Mentoring Helps

Me Mentor? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

A good friend and I were talking about our faith in Christ; how it was so important to our lives. I mentioned the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), where Jesus’ last words to His disciples were to go out and make more disciples. My friend’s response caught me off-guard. I think following Jesus is one thing- making disciples is optional.  Did I hear my friend correctly? Disciplemaking is optional? My friend is a very smart dude, whom I highly respect. Maybe he sees something in Jesus’ words I don’t. 

Later, I pulled out my Bible and dug into what Jesus said.  Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Jesus Has the Final Say

In the grand scheme of things, God the Father gave Jesus all authority in the entire universe. Heaven and earth and everything in between. No one trumps Jesus. No one. So, if He has all authority, it means that you and I are under His rule and reign, and are called to follow His every command, including what He’s about to say next.

Go and Make Disciples

In other words, as you and I who claim to be Jesus followers go through life, we are to be about making disciples. With all due respect to my friend, I don’t see where Jesus makes it an option. He didn’t say If you feel like it, or If you have the time, make disciples. He said Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.  The therefore in that command is referring to Jesus having all authority in the universe. 

No Exempt Locations

I like to travel. See the world! I’ve lived in Greece, visited Turkey, spent a summer living in a castle in Austria, visited the Netherlands, and been to Canada countless times, and now live in the United States. According to Jesus, none of those nations are off his disciple-making bucket list. In fact, His command has global implications. That means if you are a Jesus-follower, then where you are, right now, is on His eternal radar. It’s why He has you where you are; to make disciples.

Define Disciplemaking

I can hear the skeptic in the back row. Disciple-making seems so nebulous. There are basically two parts to what Jesus calls us to:

1. Gospel Salvation. First things first, people need to come to the realization that without the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross, there is no forgiveness of their sin. Every person on the planet is infected with the sin-disease. Nothing humanly-speaking will fix it. I used to think performance would tip the scale and get me in God’s good graces. Even religious works don’t make the grade. Nor does ignoring my sin. The day will come when you and I will stand before God. He will ask us why He should let us into heaven. The only right answer is a repentant life, surrendered to Jesus Christ. Trusting in the complete work of Christ on the cross. When Jesus says baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, He’s talking about Gospel salvation.  

2. Teaching them. Jesus’ other part of disciple-making is having Jesus followers teach new followers everything He commanded them. Where does all that Jesus commanded come from? Where do we find it?  In Scripture. You cannot be a fully-devoted follower of Jesus if you are not in the Word on a consistent basis.

Teaching takes a lot of formats, but the most effective is when it is integrated into the ebb and flow of life. As you go through life. It reminds me of what Moses taught in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV. 

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Rooted in love for God, disciple-making is a lifestyle, not a classroom. It’s a way of life that is rooted in a living relationship with Jesus Christ. When you and I are yielded to the Holy Spirit, our life becomes saturated with Christ Himself. Here is my life verse.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV

Later on in the New Testament, Paul, a man radically changed by the Gospel understood disciple-making the way Jesus commanded it. Here is what he told his protege Timothy.

 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2 ESV

Four Generations

There you have it, Paul, to Timothy to faithful men, who can teach others also. Long after Paul was dead and gone, the Gospel of Jesus Christ carried on because Timothy was a Gospel-centered disciple who understood the spiritual reproduction impact of the Great Commission

My Story

Somewhere in my late teens and early twenties, I got wind of the Great Commission. At that age, my focus was more on what God could do for me than how He could use me. After all, the Great Commission sounded too overwhelming. Beyond me. What could I do? Time went on and slowly, as I realized my life was far better lived in surrender to Him, I discovered He wired me with a unique Kingdom voice. Through my own journey into manhood, successes, failures and all, He placed in me the clear call that making disciples was not an option.  

What He Calls You To, He Equips

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b ESV

That last sentence of Jesus’ command clinched it for me. When Jesus says He is with you always, to the very end, He is saying that in all He calls you to (making disciples) He will also give you His presence to accomplish it. 

For some reason, God’s called me in this season of life to come alongside young men (warriors); to walk with them as they figure life out. I see myself in some of them. Questions. Struggles. Decisions. Insecurities. What is this faith thing in Jesus all about? There have been some tough situations; choices that have sent some of these men to prison and attempted suicide. Others struggled in different ways, but all of them have found hope in the Gospel of Christ.

When Life is All Said and Done

There’s coming a day when my earthly life will be over. When folks gather to remember my life, what will they have to say about me? A good man? A faithful husband and dad? Architect? Adventurer? Writer? Lover of God? Will I be known as a 2 Timothy 2:2 man? Will generations of young men and women be found faithful, on-fire disciples of Christ because I chose to live not for myself but for the King of Kings? 

But You Don’t Understand-I’ve Disqualified Myself

What makes you think that way? Look we’ve all messed up in life. Even as Jesus-followers, we each have our stupid list. Our sins and setbacks that we think disqualify us from ever making disciples and mentoring.  Can I be as honest as I can? Paul was the chief of sinners. Before Christ found him, he was a murderer of Christians. To think that you are disqualified is to discount the amazing power of the Gospel. 

Lessons Learned

God has placed you in circles of influence where He can use even your failures for your good and His glory. The key is you being repentant. To repent is to admit that what Jesus says about your sin is true and that only He can live the life of Christ through you. As you reach out to those around you in a disciple-making spirit, the goal isn’t putting on a good front as much as it is letting them see your brokenness and how God is in the process of changing your life.  This, my friend, is at the heart of disciple-making, of mentoring.

Me Mentor? Absolutely!

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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