In John 1:35-42, Jesus is in the midst of starting his ministry. He finds two of John the Baptist’s disciples following him and asks them a simple, yet profound question: “What are you seeking?” They ask him where he’s staying but Jesus’ reply tells us that he hears the deep desire behind the question.
Jesus tells them to “come and see.”
What an incredible recruitment strategy! Three words draw these particular young men in, ultimately changing the world. “Come and see.”
Jesus asked them a broad, open-ended question: “What are you seeking?” Diving into their hearts, challenging them to consider their purpose, Jesus wastes no time. This is a discipline that requires diligence. It’s much easier to let them ask you questions (there’s a time for that). It’s much easier to simply tell them what to do. But, Jesus asked questions. The Son of God, with all the answers in the world, provoked our head and heart with intentional and carefully crafted questions! Let me share with you one of my favorite resources: Bobb Biehl’s booklet entitled “Asking Profound Questions.”
We are all busier than ever. It’s difficult to carve out time from the urgent tasks to truly address the important ones. This is especially true regarding mentoring. We see Jesus take these men with him. He was on task when he paused for this brief chat and he didn’t change course. Rather, he challenged them to come with him. Some of the best mentoring sessions I’ve been a part of were in transit: in a truck cruising/bumping across southern Kenya, in a 777 flying to London, or just walking through the local grocery store. Most of them were impromptu with no structure to speak of, simply allowing the Spirit to do his work in our hearts and impart wisdom. Let them see both the tactical and strategic aspects of ministry in real time.
Let them do life with you. They must see how to integrate a demanding calling in ministry with a healthy, Jesus-loving family. How do you pray for your family? What traditions do you carry on that protect and define your relationships? What is your spouse’s role in your personal, professional, familial calling? You can discuss this at length, but nothing replaces the conviction of experience.
Jesus was a master story-teller and, although parables aren’t used often as teaching tools today, your story is probably the most unique and compelling teaching tool you have at your immediate disposal. To do this effectively, you must determine early on to be vulnerable for the sake of credibility and honesty. You must share some of the bad with the good, the inevitable failures that help set us you for successes. If your story is whitewashed with perfection, anyone can tell it’s not entirely true. Seek wholeness in your story. You don’t need to turn this into confession, but when we can help others avoid some of the pitfalls that impaired us, pride may be the only thing holding us back.
Mentoring requires something of us. As we advance in ministry, more and more responsibilities find their way to our shoulders and it becomes easier and easier to postpone investing in the next generation. Remember that for almost the entirety of Jesus’ ministry, he was accompanied by those who would carry his message for him to successive generations. He consistently asked good questions, brought his disciples along, and took them in, invited them into a bigger story.
Discipleship and mentoring were a cornerstone of Jesus’ ministry, as it should be for us.