Mentoring and Discipleship
Feb 13, 2016 // By:Dave // No Comment
I have recently discovered something about myself as I began the process of discipling a new convert just over three months ago.
I was using a curriculum supplied from a very prominent and successful church based in CA and even liked the material presented in the weekly materials. Each one focused on a foundational facet of the christian walk (deity of Christ, Word of God, prayer time, faith, etc) Great stuff ! I was gung-ho with helping this new believer understand the “what’s” and “why’s” of the Way and excited to see the growth that would take place in their life (choices made, priorities changing, presence of the Spirit in their heart, mind, and hearing about how they shared their new found faith with others)
I was excited to see them “plug into God” but never saw the “light turn on once the plug was in”.
I soon found myself shifting gears each week and trying different angles, approaches, … maybe I need to use better metaphors ? yeah, that would get their “transmission out of neutral and into gear” LOL
Next came the “need to ask more questions” phase to make it more interactive. That was it … the fix !
OK, that was NOT it … what is the issue? It felt like I was walking into a classroom full of detached kids to teach a weekly material on DOS programming while they all held smartphones playing the latest angry birds or candy crush. (sure, I might succeed in a verse being understood or even memorized but there was no change apparent as a result of the “truth” being supposedly understood. Three months have now passed and I still don’t see anything happening. God may be working slow here but there is usually some sign of “work in progress” or change.
Investigation was underway … I became a self appointed fruit inspector (and a disappointed one at that). There was no change to be seen and I began to experience resentment that someone would be so willing to waste my time on a weekly basis (after all, why show up and pretend to want to learn something if you’re not going to apply it in real time?)
It took a little while (little=longer than it should have) for the fruit meter to turn around and aim back at myself. What was I modeling to this trusting believer ? Christ or curriculum? New Life or new jargon ? The answer was embarrassing. I had reduced my opportunity to disciple and mentor a new believer into academic presentation (listen, discuss, memorize).
Time to relearn at the feet of the masters. (the first mentors)
1 Cor 1:11 shows Paul encouraging to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ.
Why then was I using a classroom approach when I had a one-to-one environment which was far more conducive to a “mentoring” approach? Why was I avoiding using a personal example model and relying on an impersonal, dry approach?
- I certainly had a valid excuse of 30 years of classroom training and condition in larger churches (where one willing mentor has to pass on the faith to 20-30 people at a time)
- I had already been given the material which “implied” a curriculum approach (implied=open to interpretation of most comfortable use)
- The curricular approach was easier, required less personal investment, and didn’t require openness on the part of the mentor, only the student.
While all three contained valid statements, only one hit me between the eyes; I was going with door number 3 (the one with the donkey behind the curtain … and I was the donkey!)
It’s not a condemnation of academic curriculum mentoring, but rather an exhortation to not rely soley on academia, but to use it as a supplement in the mentoring arena.
Curriculum focused mentoring looks like this picture.
Facts or material is presented by one while the other is in “receiving mode” (listen and retain with optional interaction). Different learning styles are left mostly to the trainee to discover, apply and practice to adapt to common material presented.
one on one relational mentoring looks like this picture.
Each interacts with the other and the “facts or material” is conveyed in the context of a modeling environment. This model of mentoring is more effective when the people are available because the facts and material are ‘lived out” (practiced on the go which is more of a hands on approach). Openess is required of both parties, trust and relationship is created and nurtured in the process. Personal learning styles are also accounted for since different learning styles are discovered within the relationship as well.
I had an epiphany… what if both methods were combined ?! Material offered and reviewed, then practical application with the relationship ?
- share stories of instances we had tried to share our faith over the week (what worked what didn’t)
- share instances of struggles during the week to live out the faith (and our convictions)
- share heart and mind issues to just connect
- go out together and work as team to talk with friends/ strangers about Jesus.
- more to come …
I started the next session with an apology which included the “looking for fruit” mindset and an explanation of how and why he deserved better from me. I told them that I was sorry for only doing half of what I should have been doing, explained the difference, and invited my guest to join this adventure “with me”.
The new (biblically exemplified) format worked far better. The connection of intimacy not only offered a channel of communication for the bible verses and doctrine, but also allowed for discussion regarding daily living out how we saw the information’s application. Discussions about how and when we pray, why we ask for what we ask for and what it “looks” like when we do so filled the afternoon discussion. hmmm 🙂 V-8 moment for everyone. With God smiling, I learned more than my disciple that day. Christian talking will always require christian walking (and God will always make sure that sacrifice and investment be offered up before I see any fruit, any where … I am learning to like it that way, His way)
in His service, Dave Cadieux