Making Disciples Can Be Messy
“Preaching to a crowd is safe, but mentoring someone is costly and messy and can hurt your heart” Pete Charpentier
Could this be why our default position of ministry today is planning and paying for big events and hoping that maybe, just maybe people will get in a relationship? One on one discipling can be less than “cost-effective” when it comes to todays score card for ministry success (which is how many? how much? how often?).
My heart is hurting a bit this morning because some I’ve invested in have recently made destructive choices, some are experiencing hardship, some are seeds falling by the road or among thorns. I think I understand in a small way what Paul said to the Galatians who were pursuing a false gospel: “I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” 4:19. This morning, I am also full of joy because others are making progress and growing and tracking with God’s will. I am also humbled to think about those who mentored and discipled me with patience and love and shaped me into what I am today.
I believe one of the greatest questions for leaders is: “Who are you currently mentoring?”
Recently, Pete Charpentier, Pastor at Woodland Park Baptist Church in Hammond, challenged one of our monthly Pastors conferences with the need for one-on-one mentoring in ministry. He gave me permission to share his insights which have stuck with me the past few weeks. Here they are:
- Mentoring is multi-pronged in terms of its purpose. It can mean training in a wide array of skills. It also means not being afraid of releasing those we mentor to do the work they are shaped to do.
- Mentoring is crucial preparation for life. God prepared Joseph to manage an entire nation by learning to manage and estate under Potiphar.
- Mentoring is personal. The best learning involves both the theory of the class and the trenches of life. If what we do on Sunday in the sanctuary doesn’t connect with real life, then is it really leading to growth? Is it possible that the bushel we hide the light of Christ under looks like our sanctuary as we pull people out of the world and don’t lead them to apply truth day to day?
- Mentoring cultivates deep relationships. Trust is essential. Insecurity is the enemy of disciple making and mentoring.
- Mentoring is rooted in the heart of God. Scripture is filled with illustrations for how God desired to work through people in groups of two or more to accomplish his purposes. Luke 6:12-16, Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-3, 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
- Mentoring is effective for making sustained impact. Love this quote: “Decisions are fickle, but disciples are fruitful.”
- Mentoring is helping others moved beyond failure and into deeper faithfulness. God uses the support found in personal relationships to encourage and equip others to be over-comers. This is why insecurity can be an enemy. If you take every failure personally, you’ll not stick with someone long enough to help them over-come. How many time should Jesus have given up on the 12, but he led them for three + years and saw them through to be world changers.
Characteristics of Healthy Mentoring Relationships (1 Thessalonians 2:1-20):
- Sacrifice (1 Thess. 2:1-2). Are you will to give away your cell phone and home #’s?
- Sincerity (1 Thess. 2:3-6a). Watch out for someone using you to position themselves. And don’t use someone else to position yourself. Sincerely love and desire growth in the individual.
- Gentleness (1 Thess. 2:6b-9). Discipling is an art not a science.
- Firmness (1 Thess. 2:10-12). “Open rebuke is better than hidden love.”
- Respect (1 Thess. 2:13-16).
- Unending (1 Thess. 2:17-20).
So, who are you discipling/mentoring?