In Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus said, “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” (NKJV). In these verses, Jesus maps out how we are to make disciples for His kingdom through conversion, baptism, and teaching the ways of Christ.
I believe spiritual mentorship is a wonderful means for teaching the ways of Christ.
Spiritual mentorship is the act of intentionally nurturing the growth of a disciple (a 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 frequently find 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, to mention a few.
Unfortunately, although this intentional mentorship is a common theme in 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 or whether they had intentionally been helping another person in this way, the answer has been “No.” I think 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. Every Christian should partake in it, either by being a mentor, a mentee, or both.
For us as Christians living in the last days, 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 commit to Christ and get into the baptismal pool but are then left to answer the question, “Now what?” without help from fellow Christians.
I’ve found a lack of mentorship to be a significant 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 of two reasons:
#1 - New converts are left with a shallow conversion experience, or
#2 - 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 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 or she grows, will reach others, and the cycle will go on. By example, Paul trained Timothy so he too could do the same (see 2 Tim. 2:2).
Spiritual mentorship is crucial, especially in the time we live in. There was a time when the greater society generally upheld biblical basics even in spaces where Christ was not acknowledged. This is no longer the case. Postmodernism 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.
Cwayta Madala is a part-time volunteer with Voice of Prophecy in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.