How to Shepherd the Sheep
by June Hunt
When you became a Christian, you became a new person. You left behind your old way of doing things and found yourself being transformed by God’s Spirit to live a radically new life!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Even so, most of us need help understanding how to live the life God offers. God recognizes that we need help in order to grow. One method He uses is mentoring or discipleship. Mentoring occurs when a more mature Christian trains and teaches others who are less mature. When we are new in the faith, we are often considered to be “baby Christians” and constantly have need to lean on others to grow. If we have been “slow to learn,” we need to be moved from feeding on milk to feeding on meat or solid food. Helping to make that transition is a significant role of a mentor.
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
A. What Is a Disciple and What Is a Mentor?
• A disciple is one who learns to follow the teaching and training of another.
— The Greek word for “disciple” is mathetes, which means “a learner.”
— The derivative word math originally meant “to teach, learn or disciple.”
• A mentor builds a relationship with a less knowledgeable disciple in order to help the disciple grow in theoretical and practical knowledge and understanding.
— The Greek word for “mentor” is didaskalos, which means “teacher.”
— The goal of the mathetes (student) is to be like the teacher.
— The carpenter’s mathetes (apprentice) learns his carpentry by example and experience.
“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
B. What Is Mentoring?
• Mentoring is the commitment of one person to equip another for personal growth and ministry.
• Mentoring equips disciples by means of teaching and training—and by example.
• Mentoring involves …
… not just teaching, but training
… not just facts, but philosophy
… not just formality, but fellowship
… not just information, but transformation
… not just learning, but living
… not just parroting the teacher, but perpetuating
C. What Are Common Goals for Growth?
• How to have a regular prayer life
• How to have an effective Bible study
• How to memorize and apply Scripture
• How to have a biblical worldview
• How to manage your money biblically
• How to have unshakable faith in God
• How to triumph over temptation
• How to share your faith with others
• How to be single and satisfied
• How to have a meaningful marriage
• How to grow through grief
• How to do meaningful mission work
• How to learn the art of leadership
• How to communicate with and/or confront others
• How to mentor others
II. Characteristics of a Mentor
Do you have a mentoring relationship with someone who is helping you grow in your spiritual walk? Are you helping someone else grow in their walk with Christ? By choosing to develop relationships to help others grow, you follow Paul’s counsel to Timothy when he said,
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
(2 Timothy 2:2)
A Workman Approved by God …
2 Timothy chapter 2
A. What are characteristics of a mentor?
The apostle Paul was a true mentor of men. In 2 Timothy chapter 2 Paul gives a precise picture of a mentor. He describes the mentor as one who …
|• Is strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
|• Discerns who are reliable disciples.
|• Chooses those qualified to disciple others.
|• Endures suffering like a good soldier.
|• Desires to please the Lord.
|• Obeys the rules.
|• Works diligently.
|• Makes sacrifices for the sake of God’s kingdom.
|• Dies to self, lives for Christ.
|• Refrains from arguments.
|• Seeks God’s approval.
|• Is unashamed of beliefs.
|• Correctly handles Scripture.
|• Avoids worthless conversation.
|• Turns from evil.
|• Prepares for God’s purposes.
|• Pursues righteousness, faith, love and peace.
|• Calls to the Lord with pure motives.
|• Does not quarrel, but is kind to everyone.
|• Is able to teach.
|• Is not resentful.
|• Is gentle with those who oppose.
|• Trusts in God’s sovereign hand of salvation.
B. What are the 10 major mistakes that mentors make?
Thousands of years ago, God gave Moses the famous Ten Commandments for all of us to live by. Yet today those same Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus 20:3–17 are just as fresh and relevant when they are adapted to the role of a mentor.
The “Ten Commandments” of Mentoring
Thou shalt not …
I. Thou shalt not put your disciple above your relationship with God.
II. Thou shalt not “play God” in your disciple’s life.
III. Thou shalt not point your disciple to anything but Scripture for all teaching.
IV. Thou shalt not fail to meet regularly with your disciple.
V. Thou shalt not play “mother” or “father” in your disciple’s life.
VI. Thou shalt not kill or discourage the spirit of your disciple.
VII. Thou shalt not neglect your personal family or work.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal your disciple’s affections.
IX. Thou shalt not fail to be truthful with your disciple.
X. Thou shalt not envy the success of your disciple.
The Christian mentor can say, as Paul did,
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1)
III. Causes of not Mentoring Others
A. What Are Surface Causes for Not Mentoring Others?
|fear of failure and rejection
|X-tra time commitment
|unwilling to give time and energy
|fear of social rejection
|unsure of personal beliefs
|fear of imposing on others
|not forgiving past hurts
|content with life just the way it is
“[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’ ”
B. What Is the Root Cause for Not Mentoring Others?
“I don’t feel secure in having the skills, knowledge or answers to disciple others. Besides, my life is not the example it should be.”
“Although I may not have all the skills or all the answers, because of God’s love for me, I want to respond to His command to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). I am willing for Him to give me the heart to disciple others, and I will trust Him to equip me to do so.”
“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
IV. Steps to Solution
A. Key Verse to Memorize
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
B. Key Passage to Read and Reread
Read the Book of 2 Timothy
This is the last letter Paul wrote prior to his death in which he was passing the baton of mentoring to his young disciple Timothy.
|• Be a guardian of sound teaching.
|• Be approved by God.
|• Be equipped through Scripture.
|• Be prepared, preach and mentor.
C. Steps to Finding a Spiritual Mentor
• Write down the areas in which God has taught you and trained you.
“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.” (Psalm 119:13–14)
• Write down your strengths and areas where you need growth (weaknesses).
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)
• Ask God for a mentor who is hungry for spiritual growth and eager to feed others.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
• Ask the mentor for a twelve week commitment—be definite!
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ ” (Luke 14:28–30)
• Set a weekly time and place to meet—be consistent!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
• Establish goals to work on together—identify needs and desires.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)
• Determine that at the end of three months there will be continuing interest and growth or you will agree to stop meeting. There should be a breakthrough within this time.
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)
D. Don’ts for the Mentor
• Don’t assume the role of Savior—There is only one Savior, and “You are not Him”!
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
• Don’t have rigid thoughts that all disciples should be alike—each person you mentor will have different areas of giftedness and different callings for service.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:5)
• Don’t have too many in a group—even two to four people provide opportunity for significant sharing.
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.” (Luke 6:12–13)
• Don’t sacrifice personal devotional time—you need to soak in before you give out.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
• Don’t become emotionally dependent on your disciple—set a cutoff time and stick to it.
“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (John 2:24–25)
• Don’t think that you are a failure if your disciple fails—Jesus had eleven disciples that struggled and one that totally strayed. Each person is individually responsible before God.
“Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
• Don’t fail to mentor any children in your own family—after God, your first priority is your family.
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” (1 Timothy 3:4)
E. Discover the Joy of Mentoring
• Demonstrate by example how the Christian life is lived.
— Disciplined life.
— Seeking God’s will.
— Servant’s heart.
— Love for people.
— Ongoing study of Scripture.
— Fellowship with other Christians.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
• Detail a reasonable plan for reaching goals.
— Detail in writing what the disciple should do.
— Demonstrate how to do it.
— Ask your disciple to write out plans in your presence for reaching a goal.
— Later, for accountability, review what was done during the week.
“An upright man gives thought to his ways.” (Proverbs 21:29)
• Devise challenging activities to increase faith and confidence.
— Memorizing Scripture.
— Attending Bible studies and seminars.
— Attending church functions.
— Reading Christian biographies.
— Helping others.
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:35–36)
• Display unconditional love.
— Discover the potential of your disciples.
— Allow for setbacks.
— Show interest in their lives.
— Verbalize appreciation for them.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14–15)
• Develop an intimate friendship.
— Be vulnerable.
— Be honest.
— Be willing to admit personal struggles.
— Be warm and affectionate.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
• Discern needs and fulfill them when you can.
— Encourage with phone calls and notes of praise.
— Extend physical and financial help.
— Include in social activities.
“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” (Proverbs 14:21)
• Determine to pray daily for your disciple.
“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
• Delight in the joy and growth you will experience through investing in the life of another.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)
|Successful mentoring is not just teaching or training, but a transfer of life. If your priority is prayer, your disciple will prioritize prayer. If you have a servant’s heart, your disciple will seek a servant’s heart. The delight of mentoring is that your priorities in life will transform your disciple’s pattern of life.
Engstrom, Ted W., and Norman B. Rohrer. The Fine Art of Mentoring: Passing on to Others What God Has Given to You. Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989.
Fryling, Alice, ed. Disciplemakers’ Handbook: Helping People Grow in Christ. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1989. Hadidian, Allen. Discipleship. Chicago: Moody, 1987.
Henrichsen, Walter A. Disciples are Made Not Born. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1974.
Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008
Hunt, June. Bonding with Your Teen through Boundaries. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001.
Sanders, J. Oswald. Shoe-Leather Commitment. Chicago: Moody, 1990.
 Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Mentoring: How to Shepherd the Sheep (2–10). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.