“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus maps out how we are to go about making disciples for the Kingdom – conversion, baptism and teaching the ways of Christ. In the article Conducting Bible Studies Made Easy, I touched on our role in the conversion component as we looked at one of the ways we can reach others in our efforts to introduce them to ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’. In this two-part written piece, we will look at spiritual mentorship as a means of teaching the ways of Christ. Firstly by discussing the necessity of this practice and secondly by looking at how it should be done.
Spiritual mentorship is the act of intentionally nurturing the growth of a disciple (disciple, in this case, is a follower of Jesus Christ). The term “spiritual mentorship” is not one you will find in the Bible, however, it is a practice we find frequently throughout the Bible. We see it in the relationships of Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and His disciples and Paul and Timothy (just to mention a few). Unfortunately, although this intentional mentorship is a common theme within the Bible, it is not a common practice in most churches today. I’ve met and had conversations with many Christians from various backgrounds. In most cases, when I have asked them whether they have been mentored by an older and more experienced Christian who taught them how to live for Christ and/or whether they had intentionally been helping another person in this way, the answer has been “no”. This is unfortunate, as this form of mentorship is a part of the model we see Christ living out throughout the gospels as he made disciples – and so every Christian should partake in it, either by being a mentor, a mentee or both.
As Christians living in the last days, we find that the task of evangelism has become more urgent than ever. This seems to have led us to a place of focusing on the number of disciples and not the quality of disciples we make. Time and time again, individuals make the commitment to Christ and get into the baptismal pool, but are then left having to answer the question, “Now what?” without help from fellow Christians. I’ve found this can be a major setback, especially for newly baptized Christians. In some cases, it has set individuals back even further than when they were initially getting to know Christ and the significance of His magnificent sacrifice. This is usually because new converts are left with a shallow conversion experience and no one helped them get beyond that initial encounter with the Truth. Spiritual mentorship can be the difference between one merely being a baptized member of the Church and one being a devout Christian. This will in turn not only edify the Christian being mentored and the mentee themselves but also grow the church. The mentee, as he/she grows, will reach others and the cycle will go on, as we see in how Paul trained Timothy so that he too could do the same. (see 2 Timothy 2:2).
Spiritual mentorship is crucial, especially in the time we live in. There was a time when Biblical basics were generally upheld by the greater society even in spaces where Christ was not acknowledged. This is no longer the case. Post-modernism has done away with that completely, and so now more than ever, we cannot expect people to go from hearing the truth to adequately living out that truth with no intervention. Christians, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, need to play an active part in helping other Christians grow.
Written by: Cwayita Madala