What is Biblical Mentoring? By David P. Craig

Mentoring: What it is and Why it’s Practice is Crucial

Mentoring is a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” – Paul Stanley & J.R. Clinton

Discipling is a relational process in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus as Lord.” – Paul Stanley & J.R. Clinton

“A discipler is one who helps an understudy (1) give up his own will for the will of God the Father, (2) live daily a life of spiritual sacrifice for the glory of Christ, and (3) strive to be consistently obedient to the commands of his Master. A mentor, on the other hand, provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas—discipline, encouragement, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” – Ted Engstrom (The Fine Art of Mentoring)

Mentoring is a process of opening our lives to others, of sharing our lives with others; a process of living for the next generation.” – Ron Lee Davis

“If you are planting for a year, plant grain.

If you are planting for a decade, plant trees.

If you are planting for a century, plant people.” – Old Chinese Proverb

  • More time spent with fewer people equals greater lasting impact for God. – Principle of Mentoring from the Life of Jesus
  • Some Biblical Examples of Mentoring: Moses mentored Joshua, Naomi mentored her daughter-in-law, Ruth, Ezra mentored Nehemiah, Elijah mentored Elisha, Elizabeth mentored her cousin Mary. Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark, Paul mentored his spiritual son Timothy. Paul also mentored Priscilla and Aquila, who in turn mentored Apollos.

Mentor #1 – Who Is Your Paul or Elizabeth?

  • Do you have a spiritual mentor who is pouring his/her life into you the way Paul poured his life into Timothy or Elizabeth poured her life into her cousin Mary?
  • Do you have someone you can go to for wise counsel?
  • Do you have someone who is a godly example for you and a model worth imitating?
  • Do you have someone who lives out biblical values and spiritual maturity?
  • Do you have someone with solid skills that can help you improve where you are weak?


(Adapted from Ron Lee Davis, Mentoring, pp. 50-51, unfortunately out of print)

A willingness to spend the time it takes to build an intensely bonded relationship with the learner.

A commitment to believing in the potential and future of the learner; to telling the learner what kind of exciting future you see ahead for him or her; to visualizing and verbalizing the possibilities of his or her life.

A willingness to be vulnerable and transparent before the learner, willing to share not only strengths and successes, but also weaknesses, failures, brokenness, and sins.

A willingness to be honest yet affirming in confronting the learner’s errors, faults, and areas of immaturity.

A commitment to standing by the learner through trials—even trials that are self-inflicted as a result of ignorance or error.

A commitment to helping the learner set goals for his or her spiritual life, career, or ministry, and to helping the learner dream his or her dream.

A willingness to objectively evaluate the learner’s progress toward his or her goal.

Above all, a commitment to faithfully put into practice all that one teaches the learner.

“Be what you would have your pupils to be.” – Thomas Carlyle

“A mentor is not a person who can do the work better than his followers. He is a person who can get his followers to do the work better than he can.” – Fred Smith

“In truth, the deepest dimensions of the Christian life cannot simply be taught in a classroom or a book. They must be heard, seen, studied intently, handled, lived, and experienced in order to be proven and assimilated.” – Ron Lee Davis

Mentor #2 – Who is Your Barnabas?

  • Do you have someone in your life to encourage you?
  • Do you have someone to believe in you, support you, and guide you?

Encouragement: “is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough.” – Dr. Larry Crabb

“A person is never more like Christ than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten.” – Chuck Swindoll

Lessons From Barnabas:

1)    He was generous with his finances (Acts 4:32-37).

2)    He reached out to Paul when everyone else was skeptical about him (Acts 9:26-31 & 11:25-30).

3)    He spent time with Mark when he had failed (Acts 15:36-39)

The Results of Barnabas’ Encouragement:  If it were not for Barnabas we would not have Paul’s epistles nor Mark’s gospel; nor the rapid spread of the gospel.

 Four Key’s to Barnabas’ Life (Acts 11:24):

1)    He was a man of integrity.

2)    He was a man full of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26).

3)    He was a man full of faith.

4)    He was teachable. (Acts 13:43, 50)

#3 Mentoree – Who is Your Timothy or Mary?

  • Do you have someone in whom to invest your own life?
  • If married, you should look at your spouse, children, or grandchildren as “Timothy’s” or “Mary’s,” but is there anyone outside your family in whom you are investing?
  • You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others. –  2 Tim. 2:1-2

 What Mentoring is in a Nutshell?

Relational – The you in v.2 above refers to Timothy and the me refers to the Apostle Paul. People learn how to better love and follow Jesus in the context of a focused friendship.

Personal – The basics that Timothy learned from Paul were mediated through his unique personality, gifting, and style.

Theologically Grounded – Paul is faithfully delivering what he himself received from many witnesses or marturon (“martyrs”). In the first century a martyr denoted a public witness to the truth. The meaning of the word martyr into its present meaning is evidence that Christian truth-telling could be terminally costly. In the Greek the word entrust means making a secure run to the bank to deposit a treasure.

Intentional – All of us are involved in hundreds of unintentional relationships. However, in the case of Paul and Timothy we see a relationship that was established for a specific purpose.

Transformational – Mentoring involves study; reflection; action; and receptivity.

Reproducible who will be able to teach others.

 The Power of Multiplication

(adapted from Keith Philips, The Making of a Disciple, p. 23)

Year                        Evangelist                        Discipler

1                        365                                     2

2                        730                                    4

3                        1095                                    8

4                        1460                                    16

5                        1825                                    32

6                        2190                                    64

7                        2555                                    128

8                        2920                                    256

9                        3285                                    512

10                        3650                                    1,024

11                        4015                                    2,048

12                        4380                                    4,096

13                        4745                                    8,192

14                        5110                                    16,384

15                        5475                                    32,768

16                        5840                                    65,536


*Keith’s chart compares the numeric difference between one person coming to Christ a day and one person a year being discipled to maturity. Catch the vision and start making disciples now!

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Marin Bible Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca., and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 30 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and seven grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship of resources, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: