A closer look at mentoring and discipleship
Life is a journey of growth and discovery, and having someone guide you along the way can make all the difference. Whether it’s a mentor or a discipler, these relationships can provide valuable insights and support. While both mentoring and discipleship offer unique advantages, there’s a compelling case for why being discipled is better than merely being mentored. Discipleship holds a special place in personal and spiritual development.
Going Beyond Skills: Nurturing Character
Mentoring often focuses on skill development, which is undeniably important. Learning from someone with expertise in a particular field can help you gain practical knowledge and become more proficient in your craft. However, discipleship goes a step further by not only imparting skills but also nurturing character.
A discipler invests in your overall growth—your values, beliefs, and ethics. They help shape you into a well-rounded individual, someone who not only excels in their chosen pursuits but also embodies qualities like integrity, empathy, and humility. While mentoring might make you proficient, discipleship makes you a person of substance.
Building Deeper Connections: Mentorship vs. Discipleship
Mentoring relationships often focus on achieving specific goals, such as career advancement or skill enhancement. These relationships can be instrumental, but they can sometimes lack the depth and longevity that discipleship brings to the table.
Discipleship involves a more profound and ongoing connection. It’s about someone investing in your life, not just your objectives. Disciplers are interested in your holistic growth, creating a bond that goes beyond checkboxes and deadlines. This deeper connection leads to authentic conversations and a safe space for exploring life’s complexities.
Discipleship is also a matter of response to Christ’s command to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). The idea of making disciples does not spring from our human nature; it is a supernatural undertaking as part of God’s design for a believer’s transformational process.
Mentors guide you toward professional success, helping you navigate the ins and outs of your chosen field. But discipleship has a loftier goal: transforming lives.
Disciplers care about your spiritual, emotional, and personal development. They encourage you to become the best version of yourself in every aspect of life. This holistic approach can lead to lasting change that transcends career achievements. Being discipled means you’re not just climbing the corporate ladder; you’re also ascending the ladder of personal growth and self-discovery.
Mentors often share practical advice, helping you overcome challenges and achieve specific goals. However, they might not always align with your core values. Discipleship, on the other hand, centers on shared beliefs and values.
Disciplers walk alongside you, reinforcing principles that matter to both of you. This alignment makes the guidance more meaningful and impactful. It’s not just about career success; it’s about living a life that resonates with your deepest convictions.
There is a mutual commitment in the discipling relationship to which the discipler brings intentional investment. Discipling someone is a lot like feeding children. There are certain phases of growth where we give children only milk; then we move on to solid food, and later, meat. In the book of Hebrews, we find that some needed “milk” even though they should have been ready for “solid food.” The goal was that all would eventually teach others (Hebrews 5:12).
The Ripple Effect
Mentoring can lead to personal growth, and you might even pay it forward by mentoring others. But discipleship creates a legacy that extends beyond you.
When you’re discipled, you’re not just being taught; you’re also being equipped to disciple others. The knowledge, wisdom, and values you acquire are meant to be shared, creating a ripple effect of positive influence that spans generations. Discipleship is about investing in your own growth while also sowing seeds of transformation in the lives of those you’ll someday impact.
In the realm of personal and spiritual development, both mentoring and discipleship play vital roles. Mentoring offers practical skills and targeted guidance, but discipleship takes it to another level. Being discipled means nurturing not only your abilities but also your character. It involves building deep, transformative relationships. Discipleship is a journey of shared values, lasting impact, and a legacy that shapes lives far beyond your own.
It is God who leads, supports and brings transformative growth. Our goal as disciple-makers is clarified in Colossians 1:28: “that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
Ultimately, the intrinsic purpose of the discipling process is for the one we disciple to become a strong, fruitful disciple—one that will go and teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).
So, while mentoring has its merits, don’t overlook the incredible benefits of being discipled. This journey of holistic growth, connection, and values alignment can bring about a profound transformation that transcends professional achievements. As you seek guidance along your life’s path, consider the unique and invaluable role that discipleship can play in shaping your journey.