Of course, the most important and obvious case of mentoring to be found anywhere in the Bible is the story of Jesus and his disciples. It was the disciples who would ultimately go out in the world and found Christianity and they were called for this purpose specifically. For them to accomplish this they had to be mentored properly and they were by none other than the son of God.
While Jesus is never called a mentor, he is referred to as rabbi, which is the Hebrew word for teacher.
“Jesus made sure that beyond truth taught, the disciples acquired the right attitude toward God and their ministries. The Lord Jesus knew that it was not enough for the disciples to learn ideas without embracing the best disposition found in their master. Jesus said, ‘if you hold – developing deep convictions – to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know (experience) the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Ask the Lord to help you develop a Christ like attitude and positive belief in your disciples.” (Fritz)
Jesus was the ultimate mentor and He used all of the methods that mentoring in the modern day should use as well.
A mentor’s goal should not be just to tell, speak, preach, and teach. They must also question. That’s because the mentor must find ways to make their mentee think. By questioning the mentee, they can help that person find their own spiritual beliefs as well as find themselves. Jesus often used questions during his mentorship to bring about various responses from the people He was teaching.
What Are the Other Nine?
Leprosy was a serious problem during Biblical times and it is mentioned several times in the scripture. When ten lepers came to Jesus for help, He healed them. Only one of the ten (a foreigner) turned around and praised Jesus for the healing.
“Then Jesus answered and said, ‘were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:14)
When Jesus questioned the leper who was healed, he wasn’t necessarily looking for an answer from that person. Instead, He was mentoring His disciples, who were present. He asked where the other nine lepers went because the nine, who were of the same land as Jesus and His disciples, left without a moment of thanks. The foreigner praised the Lord for his healing.
This question had to make the disciples think about the people they would be mentoring one day after Jesus returned to Heaven. The point of the questioning was to help the disciples understand what they would be facing – that they would not always be appreciated but they must continue in their path ever so.
The Three Questions
Jesus often referred to Peter as a rock, and Peter is often considered the rock on which the Christian church was built. He was one of Jesus’ disciples and he was under Christ’s mentorship as well. He was asked the same question three times:
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes Lord,’ he said, ‘You know I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘yes Lord. You know I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
The third time, he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ he said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:15-17)
Jesus wasn’t asking this question over and over to be annoying or to frustrate or doubt Peter. Yet again, he was serving as a good mentor. Jesus was making Peter think and helping Peter to fully understand his duty. Once Jesus had returned to Heaven, it would fall on the shoulders of the disciples to teach the world about Christianity. This is what Jesus was conveying. Peter would have a very important job: mentoring the many people who would seek out the Christ.
It you look throughout the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) you will see that Jesus asked many, many questions. They weren’t true inquiries in that Jesus already knew the answers to those questions. Instead, the purpose of the questions was to make His followers think and understand the lessons that Jesus was attempting to convey.
This is an important role of the mentors even in the modern day. They cannot just preach at their mentees. They need to also question their mentees and have those people really think about the answers they offer.
A Lesson of Hope
Another thing that Jesus shows as a mentor is a lessons of hope. The very idea of the mentor is hope. That’s because this person believes that the ones they teach and lead can become something better and greater. In other words, a mentor should always present a hopeful, positive image.
This can be seen through Jesus’ commendations. He didn’t just teach and question. Jesus also recognized when people did good things and He commended them for those acts. For example, in Revelations, when Christ is speaking of one branch of the church, He says “I know they works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and they works; and the last to be more than the first,” (Revelations 2:19)
While the church was not perfect, Jesus recognized how hard the church was working during some of the toughest times yet to come in the end days. He commended them for their hard work.
A mentor should understand that they cannot just question or preach at their mentees. They also need to understand the importance of commendation. When the mentee does something good or right, they should know they did something to be recognized.
There will be times when a mentor must correct their mentee if that person is not following the right path. This is shown through the examples of Jesus, who did have to correct His disciples sometimes. He just did so in a loving way.
“When he got into the boat, His disciples followed Him, and behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boar was being covered with waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him saying, “Save us Lord; we are perishing!’ He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds of the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” (Matthew 8:23-26)
Jesus was correcting His disciples because they were doubting His abilities. They were scared of the storm and did not have faith that they could survive. Jesus set a good example for mentors even today. He didn’t just tell the disciples what they were thinking was wrong, but He showed them why they were wrong. He gave them an example of why they needed more faith – He calmed the storm in front of them.
When a mentor has to correct their mentee, they must do more than just say “Okay, don’t do that.” They also need to show their mentee why they needed correction and what they should be doing.
Exhibiting Characteristics of a Mentor
By being the perfect mentor, Jesus created a model of what all other mentors should do. This gives mentors an easy guideline they could follow so that they can make the right decisions as they work as mentors for others. These characteristics include:
- Listening Skills
- Teaching Skills
- Creating Opportunities
- Correction through Feedback
- Creating a Vision and Goal
- Presenting Authority
- Empowering the Mentees
- Giving a Commission to Mentees
Mentors need only look to these things to understand the important job they have for others in their lives.
Jesus was, by far, the only perfect mentor in the Bible. He presented the perfect example that others can strive toward. By doing this, Jesus made it clear just how important mentoring is. This is what He spent the vast majority of His time on Earth doing. He constantly lead, taught, questioned, commended, and corrected so that the disciples would be ready to serve as mentors after him.