Mentoring – First Steps

Mentoring – First Steps

This blogsite is about mentoring Church Planters.  The desired outcome is well-rounded men and women of God who can make disciples and coach others to make disciples, start churches and coach others to start churches, and lead Church Planting Movements and coach others to lead Church Planting Movements.  But, as I have said before, church planting is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.  One doesn’t do church planting; one lives the life of a church planter.  Or, more accurately, one lives the life of a Disciple Maker, which requires us to be mentors.

I have addressed the mentoring role specifically in a couple of previous posts – Being a Mentor and Leadership Essentials – Mentors, Coaches & Trainers, and Teachers.  In the next few posts I want to dig more deeply into the role and lifestyle of a mentor.

First of all, mentoring begins with one’s self.  The single greatest indictment of religious leaders is found in Matthew 23.

Mt 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:  2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.  4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Mt 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;  6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

Mt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.  9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.  10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.  11 The greatest among you will be your servant.  12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Mt 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’  17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?  18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’  19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.  22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

Mt 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Mt 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Mt 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Mt 23:29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.  30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.  32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?  34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.  35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.  38 Look, your house is left to you desolate.  39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’” (The Holy Bible, New International Version. Pradis CD-ROM)

There is a lot to exegete here, but the main point is that the religious leaders did not live out what they taught.  Their public and private lives were not consistent with the demands of Scripture.

  • They did not practice what they preached.
  • They put burdens on people instead of helping them with their burdens.
  • They did what they did for themselves instead of for God.
  • They shut the Kingdom of God instead of opening it.
  • They made converts who were worse than they were.
  • They forgot the source of their oaths.
  • They were rule makers and rule police, but forgot the teachings of The Law regarding justice, mercy and righteousness.
  • They looked good on the outside, but inside they were dirty and corrupt.  (The whitewashed graves were to look nice, but also to warn pilgrims not to inadvertently touch them and be disqualified by the law from entering the temple at Passover.  If you touch a Pharisee you disqualify yourself from worship.)
  • They were so dangerous to the people around them they were like a brood of vipers.  Certain death if touched.

These warnings were given to those of us who are leaders.  It is so easy for us to fall into the sin of the Pharisees.  Our positions, our leadership, our rules, our representing God to the lost and leading the saved can cause us to lose sight of what it means to be a servant of God, one who humbles himself or herself and is then exalted by God as we serve His creation.

True mentoring begins in the heart of the mentor.  It is not only what we know, our experiences and what we have learned that makes us a mentor.  It is also what we avoid, what we choose not to do, as well as how we choose to relate to God and man in public and in private.

Mentors strive for consistency in their lives.  Their deepest desire is to Know God and serve man.  They are even-keeled.  What you see in public is what you get in private.  And the life of a “sinner who has been redeemed by the Blood of Christ and raised up to walk a new life” is not a slogan, but a revealed lived-in and lived-out reality that permeates all we think, do and say.

Mentors are redeemed sinners who know it every day, and live out the sainthood that has been bestowed on them by Christ for the benefit of the Kingdom of God and the people they serve.  If God is not working on those of us who call ourselves mentors, then we have no bases on which to be a mentor.  Mentoring is not about being perfect; it’s about striving for perfection through the mercy and grace of God.  Mentoring is not about knowing everything; it’s about being a learner who shares hard-earned lessons with others in hopes the lessons can be a little less hard.  Mentoring is not about being long-term (old) in a field of endeavor; it’s about being wise and able to apply the lessons learned to everyday life for the benefit of others more than self.

If you want to be a mentor, you have start with self, and then as you learn, fail, repent and repeat; you bring others along with you.  Your life is intertwined with the lives of others – from family to old friends to new friends, and even to enemies.  Each relationship has a potential for happiness or bitterness.  Each moment is a choice to do right, do wrong, or to do nothing (which may be the best or worse decision of all).  Each task can succeed or fail, sometimes regardless of what we are doing.

Mentoring is sharing your life with others so that you and they will be better people in service to the Kingdom of God.  If you are called to mentor, then you are indeed called to a high calling that demands your best in all situations and relationships for the good of others involved in Kingdom work.


David Watson
Irving, Texas

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