BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 NLT).
The disciples of Jesus were ordinary people comprising fishermen, tax collectors, etc. yet they did extraordinary things after the ascension of Jesus. The religious leaders who were in the council were surprised at the boldness of Peter and John despite their not having any “special training” other than that they were with Jesus – but that was their training. What they lacked in any special education, they made up for in the mentoring process they went through under Jesus. The New King James renders Acts 4:13 thus: “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” That comment by the members of the Council is proof of the effective mentoring the disciples went through under Jesus.
Many sources say that mentoring comes from Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, Mentor was the trusted counselor and friend of Odysseus, king of Ithaca. Odysseus entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor during his absence to fight the Trojan War, which eventually lasted ten years. It took him another ten years after the war before he could get back home. However, due to Mentor’s failure to provide Telemachus with the expected guidance and advice, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare, Athena/Athene, intervened. She disguised herself as Mentor and gave Telemachus the needed guidance and advice.
Mentoring has been variously defined but it is not counseling, giving advice, correcting, or sharing advice experience, or knowledge. It includes these, but it’s not any of them.
Basically, mentoring is a voluntary endeavor of an experienced person showing other persons how to do something by benefiting from his or her knowledge, skills, and experience in order to help them progress in life or in their career or to fulfill their dreams or destinies. Mentoring is a deliberate, purposeful relationship to invest in the future of others known as mentees, mentorees, or protégés.
Coaching is not the same as mentoring. Whereas coaching is task-oriented, short-term, etc. mentoring is relationship-oriented, long-term, development-driven, performance-driven, etc.
Today, many people try to choose their mentors or actually choose their mentors but if we follow the example of Jesus, He chose His mentees. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16 NKJV). The disciples of Jesus didn’t choose Him but they responded to His invitation – He chose them.
Matthew 4:18-22 tells us how Jesus called Peter and his brother, Andrew, and the two sons of Zebedee, James, and John. He called them to be His followers, and through that mentored them. They didn’t approach Him to mentor them.
We see another invitation in Matthew 9:9: “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him” (NKJV).
The Scripture tells us how the twelve disciples came into a relationship with Jesus: “And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles. Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (Luke 6:13-16 NKJV).
From the foregoing, one can say that mentoring is a voluntary relationship both on the part of the mentor and on the part of the mentee, and it is usually for a definite period and on agreed terms. That does not mean the relationship ends after this. Jesus’ mentoring of the twelve disciples lasted three years. Both parties benefitted from the relationship.
From the relationship between Jesus and His disciples, one can garner from the Scriptures vital lessons on how Jesus mentored His disciples which will be helpful to the church today.
How Jesus Mentored His Disciples
1. By a personal life of unbroken relationship and intimate fellowship with God. This was demonstrated in prayer alone from the start of His ministry to the end – before and after choosing His disciples. He didn’t allow any distractions or over-crowded schedule to disturb His fellowship. Before He chose his twelve disciples, He prayed all night (Luke 6:12-17).
Jesus, throughout his ministry, maintained a habit of praying alone (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:18; Mark 1:35). Even at Gethsemane, before He was arrested, He kept His personal fellowship with God (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32). Jesus gave His relationship and fellowship with God the number one priority. His disciples saw this in Him and this must have impacted them.
2. By a personal invitation to a relationship marked by accessibility, availability, and simplicity. Jesus was relational in mentoring the disciples. They were always together. He interacted with them every day; He rubbed shoulders with them. No barrier between them, no communication gap, and no protocols thus Jesus was able to talk with them. As they were together, He taught them from ordinary events that happened either by initiating discussions with them or by the disciples asking Him questions, or by teaching them from the answers they gave to His questions.
From Mark 3:14, we see that the first reason Jesus called the disciples was that they should be with Him. The disciples were very close to Jesus and the relationship was so intimate that Peter could take Jesus aside and begin to rebuke him for telling them, his disciples, that He would suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and would be killed, and be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21-22).
They were so close that Judas could even kiss Him, in the oriental way of greeting, to reveal His identity to those that arrested Him, because it was night (Matthew 26:48-49; Mark 14:44; Luke 22:47-48).
3. By practical examples. Jesus led by example; He first did before He taught. “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1 NKJV). He taught prayer, love, forgiveness, leadership, etc. by demonstrating each in His own life. He wasn’t just teaching theory. For instance, they saw His life of prayer and asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Sometimes later, He demonstrated that the essence of leadership is service (John 13:2-16). This supports His teaching that the leader is a servant to all (Matthew 20:27, 23:11; Mark 10:44).
4. By teaching them – giving them instructions. He taught them using parables, asking questions, answering questions, correcting them, etc. He told them those who couldn’t be His disciples (Luke 14:26, 27, 33) and those who were His disciples (John 8:31; 13:35; 15:8). He taught them to love, forgive, etc. He corrected the twelve disciples and even the seventy (or seventy-two) disciples when it was necessary (Luke 9:55; 10:17-20; Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33; Luke 22:24-27). Jesus also taught them by asking them questions and answering their questions (Luke 9:18-20; Matthew 16:13-20; 17:24-27). Jesus used parables a lot (Matthew 13:34-35).
5. By loving them. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1 NKJV). Jesus again expressed His love for the disciples in John 15:9: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (NKJV).
It was because of the same love that Jesus had for the disciples that, after His resurrection, He went after Peter to reinstate him into the ministry – Peter had gone back to fishing with six other disciples following him (John 21). Peter must have done that because he was disappointed in himself for denying his Master despite his assurance that he was ready to die with Him (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38). He couldn’t believe he denied his Master three times and he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27). But because of the love Jesus had for him, He never gave up on him.
Mentoring is serious work. The mentor must be selfless and love to see others – the mentees succeed. Jesus loved the disciples and poured Himself into them.
6. Jesus mentored them by focusing on developing their potential rather than focusing on their weaknesses. He saw what they would become, and not just who they were when He invited them. He changed Simon’s name to Peter (Cephas – rock or stone). “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone)” (John 1:40-42 NKJV).
At that time Peter didn’t look anything near a stone or rock. But by the time Jesus was through with him, especially from Pentecost forward, Peter was not the same person he used to be. He preached a powerful, incisive sermon on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41). He gave the disciples the required leadership such that when he spoke boldly before the council, as we read earlier in Acts 4:13, the Bible says, “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” (NLT).
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, He told them to follow Him. He said He would make them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). And indeed, He made them; He didn’t use them and then abandon them. He looked beyond their weaknesses to the point of reinstating Peter after he had denied Him, as we have seen earlier (John 21:15-18). You can liken the three times Jesus questioned to reinstate him to the three times he denied Jesus. This is how the Bible records what happened the third time Peter denied Jesus: “But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’ Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62 NKJV). But that was not the end of Peter. The love of Jesus went after him and restored him. How many mentors today will do that?
Jesus mentored the disciples by looking beyond their weaknesses at the time He called them and even while they were still undergoing mentoring. He kept on believing in their destinies and continuously invested in them to make them fulfill their destinies.
7. By empowering them and giving them opportunities to practise what they learnt from Him. In Matthew 10: 5-8, Jesus sent out the twelve disciples or apostles to preach the Kingdom of God, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. He sent them to the people of Israel, the lost sheep of God. He charged His disciples to give as freely as they had received. Luke 9:1-6 and Mark 6:7-13 record a similar thing. Mark 6:7 says He sent the twelve out two by two giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.
According to Luke 9:1, He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. Jesus empowered them. They were already ministering to people while under Jesus’ mentorship. Jesus didn’t do a one-man ministry. He empowered them to do exactly what he was doing.
8. By focusing on building individuals rather than using them to build an empire for Himself. There are leaders who are only interested in achieving the goals of their organizations, but not interested in developing the potential of their staff. They may be fulfilled, but are not bothered whether or not their workers are fulfilled. This is not good leadership, and that mindset does not work in mentoring. Mentors are interested in the success of each mentee, not the satisfaction of having them around them and using them to build their empires.
Jesus built the individual capacities of His disciples because He was interested in making them – making them fishers of men, and He achieved this. He succeeded so much that after His resurrection, He could send them out, to go into the world and make disciples of all nations – the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18). He also introduced them to the source of power. “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ … But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8 NKJV).
These disciples performed very well, such that the religious leaders gave those testimonies that we read in Acts 4:13. Acts 11:26 is also a good testimony of the effective mentoring they underwent. “…And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26 NKJV). Those at Antioch saw the trademark or imprint of Christ on the disciples and called them Christians for the first time. The disciples Jesus mentored carried out the Great Commission with great zeal such that in Thessalonians, it was said of them that those who turned the world upside down had come to them (Acts 17:6). This accusation was proof of the impact the disciples made on their world.
9. By displaying humility, transparency, and authenticity. Jesus was real to them – no cunningness, pranks, or manipulations. He made himself vulnerable to them. He showed His humanity to them. They saw Him being tired (John 4:6). They saw Him sleeping (Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:38). They saw Him being hungry (Mark 11:12; John 4:8, 31-34). He ate with them (Matthew 9:10; 26:21; Mark 2:15).
The disciples saw Him being greatly displeased with them for rebuking those who had brought little children to Jesus to touch (Mark 10:13-16). The disciples saw how Jesus’ zeal for the house of God moved Him to cleanse the temple of those who had turned it into a den of robbers overturning the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves (John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48).
They saw Him weep publicly (John 11:35; Luke 19:41). Peter and the two sons of Zebedee saw Him being sorrowful and in deep distress (Matthew 26:37-38). So Jesus mentored them as the Son of man, not just as the Son of God. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (NKJV). Jesus didn’t wear any mask. He wasn’t pretentious in mentoring the disciples.
10. By praying for them. Jesus prayed for them before calling them to be His disciples and after (Luke 6:12-16). Jesus specifically prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:31-32). He said that Peter would deny Him three times and this, eventually, happened.
As He was rounding off His ministry, Jesus, in John 17, prayed the longest prayer He ever prayed, recorded in the Bible – the High Priestly Prayer – and in verses 6-19, He specifically, prayed for the disciples. In that chapter, He also prayed for future believers, which include Christians today (verses 20-26).
11. By developing friendships with them. The relationship between Jesus and His disciples developed so intimately that He began to call them friends and not servants. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15 NKJV).
As I said earlier while discussing the fact that Jesus mentored His disciples through personal invitation to a relationship marked by accessibility, availability, and simplicity, the relationship between Jesus and His disciples was so informal that Peter could even call Him aside to scold Him for saying that He was going to die. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:21-23 NKJV). Though what Peter said wasn’t of God, this conversation shows the friendly relationship between Jesus and His disciples.
When Judas came to betray Jesus leading a gang of violent men, Jesus welcomed him calling him a friend, probably because that was the relationship He had developed with all His disciples, but Judas betrayed a friend. “Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why have you come?’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him” (Matthew 26:49-50 NKJV). Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me” (NLT).
12. By creating in them a consciousness to mentor others. They had the understanding that as they had been mentored, they were to mentor others. Mentoring was not supposed to end with them, but to continue. The mentees they mentored were to mentor others and the chain should continue. That was what the early church did, and what we should be doing today. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV).
In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, we see an example of a chain of mentoring. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 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” (2 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV). From Paul to Timothy, and from Timothy to faithful men, and from faithful men to others – that was the chain of mentoring. A mentored person should pass to his mentees what has been passed to him.
Paul talked about loving the Thessalonians to the point of not just sharing the good news, but sharing his life. That is, he was well pleased to impart to them not only the Gospel of God but his own life (1 Thessalonians 2:8). That was mentoring.
Conclusion: Who is your mentor? Who are you mentoring? Those who are mentoring others should mentor well, doing it cheerfully as a service to the Lord. Jesus has given us the right example to emulate in mentoring others. His example remains the best. Whatever was not in Christ should not be found in us.
Also, those who are being mentored should be receptive and take full advantage of the opportunity. More importantly, they should also allow the chain not to be broken; they should mentor new mentees.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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