Finding a Discipleship Mentor: Who, What, Where?"May God guide you to someone who will, like Jesus did with His disciples, help you grow in faith and obedience."
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
There are many types of mentors these days! Life coaches, counselors, and general mentors who offer “mentorship” in various areas of expertise. So, what are the differences between each one? General mentors can offer skill training in many areas: career development, cooking, sewing, home organizing, golf and a plethora of other fields of interest. A life coach typically focuses on one’s career or personal challenges. Counselors target certain aspects of one’s personal, social or psychological needs. Some or all of these might charge for their services.
In this article, we want to look at one particular kind of mentor: The Discipleship Mentor. Another term used for this kind of helper is a “discipler.” Jesus was the Master Discipleship Mentor, or Disciplemaker. He discipled His 12 closest followers. Someone who is a discipleship mentor or “discipler” does not charge a fee. Disciple-makers are strongly committed to helping others grow in their spiritual maturity. They freely offer to others what they have freely learned about walking with Christ.
Jesus the Master Disciple maker, or Discipleship Mentor
Indeed, one aspect regarding the life of Christ that is easily overlooked is that Jesus was primarily a “discipler” to the 12 disciples who followed Him for three and a half years. In His role as their discipler, He led them through many experiences and teachings that shaped their character and vision. From day one, Jesus impressed upon them the need to be involved with others. In Matthew 4:19, He invites them to follow Him saying, “Follow me AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN!” He did not just ask them to hang out and enjoy the fellowship! He invited them to become disciples who would go and make more disciples!
In Jesus’s model as a disciplemaker, He endorsed the necessity of discipling others for their spiritual growth and involvement in spreading the kingdom of God. Many young people today are looking for someone to help them grow spiritually. If you are looking for someone to disciple you, what distinctives should you look for?
Distinctives of the Trusted Discipler
First, you should look for someone who has a real, growing relationship with Jesus. This does not mean they are perfect because no one is! But it does mean that they authentically relate to and love Jesus Christ! One quality sign in a mentor is their commitment to the Scriptures. They understand that the Bible is the inspired Word of God—and they live like it. They don’t just read the Bible, but they interact with God as He speaks to them through His Word. They also know that the Bible is authoritative for their life and are seeking to do what it says. God has spoken through His Word and His Word is fully reliable! Any trusted discipler will have a robust, genuine walk with Christ.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Mentor:
- When you seek out a mentor, you are looking for a model of growth not a model of perfection! Who do you know and respect that models growth in Christ?
- Who do you know that actively applies the Scriptures to life with whom you might initiate a discipling relationship?
A second distinctive of a trusted discipler is that they are concerned for your spiritual growth. They desire to see you deepen in your knowledge of and obedience to Jesus! Foremost, they will put your spiritual growth before making you feel good. Do you remember when Jesus’s disciples were in a boat and a great storm blew up? Do you remember how frightened they were? Jesus was asleep on the lower deck and when He saw their fear, He challenged them by saying in Mark 4:40, “Why are you so afraid, do you have no faith?” A trusted discipler does not minimize frightening circumstances or encourage the disciples to escape from difficulties. They see these moments as opportunities to trust God and rely upon Him with an increasingly stronger faith.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Mentor:
- If you were to take on a mentor, would you be willing to let them speak truth into your relationships, especially social or dating relationships?
- Would you be willing to let them teach you the Word of God and challenge your faith?
Where Do I Find a Discipler?
Finding someone to help you grow in your walk with Jesus is not always an easy task. Begin praying and asking God to help you find someone. You might start by looking in your local corps/church. Is there someone who has walked with Christ longer than you, whom you admire and are challenged by their life of faith? Or consider asking your officer/pastor or church leaders if they know of someone who might help you grow spiritually.
When you find a potential trusted discipler, talk to them about what you are hoping for in this disciple-making relationship. Are you looking for practical, spiritual help in your walk with Christ? Tell them. Are you looking to grow in your understanding of the Scriptures? Tell them. Are you hoping for advice in your relationships so that you will live strong in faith as you connect with your friends? Tell them.
One person I know asked a much older person to help them. They met every other week, and the younger person always brought a list of questions and asked the older person to teach him what he thought he needed to know from the Bible. They would meet for breakfast at a local omelet shop and became close as the older person shared what he knew of walking with Christ. They met regularly for one year and the relationship became foundational for this young person’s life of faith and walk with Christ.
Finding someone who will disciple you is a godly desire. It will take faith to find someone who will advise you, teach you God’s Word, be honest with you and faithful to your continued spiritual growth. Are you sincere in your desire to know Jesus deeply? Are you willing to pursue the wisdom of someone who is committed to helping you become a more mature disciple of Christ? Are you ready to be discipled and become “a fisher of men?” May God guide you to someone who will, like Jesus did with His disciples, help you grow in faith and obedience.
For Further Study
- The Gentle Art of Discipling Women by Dana Yeakley
- Disciples are Made not Born by Walt Henrichsen
- Living Theology with the Luebe Brothers: three brothers in their 20s who are all devoted to Christ as well as seasoned discipleship mentors
- Deepen your walk with God through taking advantage of available resources:
Married to Tom for 48 years, they have three children and eight grandchildren, Together, they have been on The Navigators staff for 40+ years. For 11 years, Dana and her family lived and served as missionaries in Indonesia. After returning from Indonesia, Dana served on a variety of leadership teams with The Navigators, and also has written two books on making disciples. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known. Currently, Dana is involved in her local church leading discipleship studies and helping to equip others to make disciples.