Mentoring or discipleship – Is there a difference?

Recently, I was asked by someone if I would mentor them.  I was flattered by the opportunity but at the same time was overwhelmed with a great sense of inadequacy because of the struggles in my own life.  When I initially responded to the inquiry, I almost turned it down because I was allowing my own struggles to take over.  I realized that no one is perfect and that even though mentoring is a big word and is thrown around a lot in the business world, that it is nothing more than discipleship.  Allow me to make my case

The definition of mentoring is:

Taken from the New Oxford American Dictionary:

Noun – an experienced and trusted adviser; an experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students

Verb – to advise or train (someone, esp. a younger colleague).

We see this word used (or as I said earlier, thrown around a lot).  Doing a quick Google search yielded over 42 million hits on the word mentoring alone.

As I was meeting with my mentee via Skype and we were concluding our time.  I made mention of the fact regarding the word mentoring and that I think that it is essentially the same thing as discipleship.  What does the Bible say about it?

2 Timothy 2:2 (NKJV) And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Discipleship or mentoring is just taking what you have learning and pouring it into the lives of other people.  Notice Paul gives a command (commit) and he tells us to whom we are to commit what we have heard – to faithful men.  Why? because they will be able to teach others also.

If someone asks you to mentor them, consider it an honor and a challenge!  Do not get hung up on your own inadequacies and struggles, because no one is perfect or by any means infallible. We all have struggles, some people do a better job than others in hiding and masking them instead of being transparent.

Think back to how you came to Christ, how someone took the time and effort to share the Gospel with you.  They made an investment in your life.  Are you making that same investment in the lives of others?

You may say, okay, I will accept the challenge to mentor/disciple someone else, but what do I do?  I found myself in the same situation, not knowing what to do?  I prayed about it and what we do is quite simple, it works and the best thing is that it can be changed  as needed.

We meet once a week – on Saturdays (we started meeting in the afternoons via Skype) but we have changed recently to early mornings on Saturdays due to our schedules and family needs.

We go through an accountability worksheet – the one we use, I obtained as a PDF from Desiring God  They are the accountability questions that John Piper uses with the elders at Bethlehem Baptist.  We don’t use all of the questions because some of them do not apply to us.  The questions over all are thought-provoking and convicting.  They are a good exercise of mutual accountability.

We are reading a book together, currently we are reading A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson.   This book is a great read on the discipline of prayer and what we should be praying for instead of what we commonly pray for.  We read a chapter a week and discuss it.

We are also reading the Bible together.  We read aloud a chapter of the Pastoral Epistles (today was 1 Timothy 5) and we discuss that in light of us being men who have a desire to return to full-time vocational ministry.

We pray and share prayer requests.

Nothing fancy or formal, but a commitment of time and a commitment of obedience to the Scriptures.  Today instead of doing our accountability questions, I asked for my mentee/disciple to tell me about his week. We also read an article that was a blessing to both of us regarding the search for pastoral ministry opportunities instead of our chapter in the book. My point is do something redemptive and practical.

I think that mentoring is the same as discipleship, even though we may use different terms.  Discipleship as a term may not be a functional term in the business world, but the concept is still the same- investing in others.

Who are you investing your life in?

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