Mentoring, as has been defined, is a “pouring in” whereas, coaching is a “drawing out." With that in mind, how does one go about effectively discipling another into the fullness of their identity and capacity in Christ that leads to their God-given destiny? More simply stated, is there a practical, Spirit-empowered way to help individuals live as redeemed sons and daughters of God, daily encountering His presence, servants that find their hearts expanded as they daily surrender to Him and run the way of His commandments (Ps. 119:32) as they steward their Kingdom responsibility in loving faithfulness that manifests His glory as jars of clay that contain the treasure of life (2 Cor. 4:7)?
To disciple with the heart and methodology of Christ we need to keep in mind that, like Jesus, we need to incarnate ourselves (come alongside the other, a peripatetic walk) relationally with those we are called to disciple. Understanding such, let me walk you through the organic process we have found to be most effective in helping the mentor/rabbi discern most effectively who the person is, what process or work to engage in, the means or way by which I can help achieve this and how to discern the relational aspects of the disciple’s life that brings increase or decrease to community.
To help us do that, we have framed this process around 4 simple questions.
1. Who is Christ in this person?
2. What does Christ want to do in this person that I can partner with?
3. What does Christ want to do that I can facilitate?
4. How is this person doing living in Kingdom community?
Now, let me walk you briefly through each question and underscore how we can develop an understanding of the disciple you are mentoring.
Question #1: Who is Christ in this person?
To help us grasp the gravity of what we are doing, this question takes us into the sacred domain of the masterpiece (Eph. 2:10) that is before us. Ministry is a sacred trust and we never want to treat it as common. Dealing with God’s creation, His sons and daughters, is a privilege and the most sacred work we can do. Maybe this is why Paul says that when we love one another we fulfill the entire Law. With this question we are asking God the Father who His son / daughter is before us. We want to come to understanding of the Jesus that is in the person we are mentoring so that we mentor from this image to the fullness of their God-given design and purpose (Gal. 4:19, which is the pastoral task). This picture is critical to our discipleship process.
Question # 2: What does Christ want to do in this person that I can partner with?
This question is one of image building. The temptation that we often fall prey to is discipling people into our image. Yes, we are to have people imitate us as we imitate Christ, but never at the expense of placing our image over the Imago Dei. This second question keeps us from using people to fulfill our vision or dreams and facilitates a divine dialogue with the Holy Spirit that helps us see where He is already at work in their lives. Where He is at work is then the place we want to join Him.
Question #3: What does Christ want to do that I can facilitate?
This is a question of divine destiny. Unless we see the potential in the person we are mentoring it will difficult, if not impossible, to truly mentor them into Kingdom fullness. A general rule of thumb to follow is that if you don’t see potential in the disciple, then you are not the one to disciple them. If we have discerned the Christ that is in the person and where the Holy Spirit is already at work, we will have a clearer sense of the God-given destiny and purpose they were created to manifest for our Father’s delight and advancement of His Kingdom.
Question #4: How is this person doing living in Kingdom community?
To help us understand the relational aspect of the disciple, this question helps us grapple with the wound (everyone has a wound just a matter of kind and degree) of the disciple’s heart, the lie by which they have contractually agreed to perceive the world and the relational style that protects them from further injury – the tragic irony is that it actually allows for the wound to remain. We will want to help the disciple come to grips with how they are helping and/or hurting their cause by way of their relational style. More simply, the individual that remains aloof and doesn’t share how they are doing will remain alone, outside the community relationally. What needs to be acknowledged from their past that continues to bring pain today? What contribution are they making to the relational difficulties they experience? What fruit do they experience regularly that would lend to reality that the common denominator to your pain is you? In other words, how is your relational style bump setting others to spike the ball into your pain or allowing you to spike the ball into their pain? One allows you to relive your pain; the other justifies you expressing your pain and anger; both keep you from enjoying the fruit of community.
These 4 questions allow the mentor to get a snapshot of the disciple and help them relationally navigate their lives to the Christ that is in them, helping them understand who they are in Christ and what roadblocks are in the way to their God-give destiny. We are privileged to walk this sacred walk with God’s masterpieces, developing and calling out the Christ that is in them. May we all, with humility and love see the beauty and potential before and make more and better disciples that make more and better disciples!
Rev. Mike Chong Perkinson serves as the Senior Developer with The Praxis Center for Church Development and is also Co-President and Dean of the School of Church & Ministry Leadership for The Trivium Institute. Mike has also co-authored four books with Tom Johnston.
Mike has planted four churches and created extensive church networks in Northern California, Arizona and the Philippines. Currently Mike is the Lead Pastor of CrossRoads Christian Fellowship of BigFork, Montana. Mike is at the forefront of leadership training and development in the greater body of Christ, having created various schools of ministry throughout the southwestern United States, and is a trained NCD Coach-Consultant. He holds an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary. Mike and his wife Teresa have been married since 1983 and have two intelligent and beautiful daughters.