Natasha Sistrunk Robinson: Discipleship Begins With Mentoring

“Embracing mentoring as a leadership factory is wise and crucial for a healthy church.”

Who wouldn’t want to join a positive, ever-growing movement that has proved successful? As we re-evaluate our definition of mentoring and place it within the context of our biblical understanding, we do not abandon all the practical mentoring skills or best practices learned from marketplace professionals.

A quick search of the Harvard Business Review website reveals nearly 200 posts on the topic of mentoring in the workplace. It is common marketplace knowledge that mentoring develops human assets, increases organizational value and is a crucial component of leadership. This should not surprise us. After all, great leaders mentor!

Mentoring is advocated in the corporate world because it is good for business and it helps the bottom line. Leaders of great corporations identify and train young prodigies with the understanding and hope that their mentees will become the kinds of leaders who take the corporation to the next level. Through teaching, training, modeling, correction and positive reinforcement, good mentors help their mentees understand their work, make wise decisions, set goals, build teams and plan strategically. In this way, mentoring develops talent and increases performance so the mentor, mentees and organizations in which they work and serve are all beneficiaries.

When I consider the resources and programs available in the business world, I wonder: Is the church equally committed to an understanding of mentoring that makes disciples and raises up the next generation of Christian leaders?

Whether you are a leader in your church, a stay-at-home mom discipling your children, a Christian working in a professional setting or simply someone who is frustrated with your church’s leadership, nurturing Christian leaders of character begins with mentoring. We often miss opportunities to train up leaders in the church because of the misconception that some are leaders—mostly due to their titles, hierarchy, gender or ordination—and others are not.

This misconception causes many Christians to settle for a complacent life of waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and if no one engages them, they don’t act. Mentoring addresses this leadership challenge by making all believers aware of their responsibilities to live on purpose and commit to God’s mission. This paradigm shift is a blessing for the church and a means of God’s grace to the world. A God-focused and God-purposed mentoring relationship stretches and changes the way we view mentoring and leadership alike. So not only is mentoring a means of intentional discipleship, it is a leadership factory that prepares people of all backgrounds, life stages and experiences to lead well.

Embracing mentoring as a leadership factory is wise and crucial for a healthy church. Christ offered a long-term training plan to his disciples, and when he ascended to heaven, leaving them on earth, he commissioned them to work! When leaders are not intentionally training new leaders, the church suffers.

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, is the founder of Leadership LINKS Inc., with more than 15 years of leadership and mentoring experience in the military, government, church, seminary and nonprofit sectors. This excerpt is taken from Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose Through Intentional Discipleship (Zondervan, 2016) by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Zondervan.com | NatashaSRrobinson.com