The goal of mentoring
Jesus is many things to us. He is the second Adam, our prototype, our example, our Savior, and our God…but would you consider Him to be our mentor? Or our example of how to mentor others?
When reading through the gospels – the books written to tell others about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – we find that once the disciples are introduced by the author, hardly a chapter goes by where they are not involved in the story. The disciples were always with Jesus.
Now whenever we think about Jesus interacting with His disciples, we typically picture a teaching situation, right? He’s sitting on rock, a little higher up than the group of men huddled down around His feet. Most certainly Jesus taught them, but there was much more to their relationship than constantly being in class. They cooked and ate with him, they traveled – by foot – with Him, they slept near Him, they hung out with Him, they laughed and celebrated with Him, and they observed every possible aspect about Jesus’ life.
What was the ultimate purpose of all this time together? In the middle of one of His teachings, Jesus mentioned the goal of discipling and mentoring these 12 men:
A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master.
The goal for a disciple is to eventually be just like his teacher. We say things like this when we meet a young man or woman and we tell them “I knew who your parents were just by the way you looked and the way you acted.” In the same way, the highest compliment a disciple could receive was being told that they were a perfect reflection of their teacher.
This also explains one of the oddest scenes in any of the gospels – and it takes place just a couple of chapters after Jesus stated the goal of discipling and mentoring.
The disciples were in a boat, in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus walks out on top of the waves toward their boat. Understandably, the disciples were freaked out…because there appears to be someone walking on the water. But Peter says something that, at first glance, looks completely out of place:
“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”
“Come!” He said.
And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.
Seriously? It’s storming, visibility’s not all that great, and sure he recognizes Jesus’ voice…but Peter asks to go out there with Him? If he’s wrong and it’s not Jesus, then Peter just booked a one-way trip to the bottom of the lake. Why would Peter do something this risky?
Peter’s goal in being Jesus’ disciple was to end up doing everything like Jesus, no matter how outrageous. If Jesus could, then it would mean that eventually Peter could, too…so why not right now? At first, Peter is able to walk on the water. Don’t knock him too much for sinking after actually taking a few steps across the water…he was the only one to get out of the boat!
As a mentor, you’re probably not going to be teaching your protégé how to walk on water. However, you are going to show them a variety of character traits and Biblical applications that, to them, will feel just as impossible.
The main reason Peter thought he could be like Jesus was because of the teaching he had received and the time Jesus had invested into him. Likewise, the more you are willing to open your life, the more the person you mentor will become confident in their ability to live like you.