By: Muyiwa Oyatogun ~Guest Writer~
As a Christian, one word I have heard a lot is “discipleship.” After Jesus’ resurrection and before He ascended to heaven, he gave a mandate to his disciples to go out and “make disciples of all nations.”
But who is a disciple? A disciple is a student – a less experienced person who follows a teacher, a more experienced person, in order to grow and learn from the wealth of experience of the teacher. A nice way to see the vision of mentorship relationships is in Jesus’ saying, “a disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
When Christ asks His followers to make disciples. He is asking men and women to be in a relationship with others and train them to be more like Him. This principle can also be applied to other areas of life. We are always in disciple-like relationships: Boss/employee, student club leader/adviser, student/ professor. I would argue that one-on-one intentional mentoring relationships shape us significantly, and we need to pursue them more actively.
Throughout college, I have had the opportunity to be mentored in various ways by some of my professors as well as my staff leaders in the Coalition for Christian Outreach and African Students Association. More specifically, I have seen that one-on-one life discipleships have been vital to my spiritual health as a Christian, and this has impacted every other area of my life.
For roughly two years in college, I had the privilege of being mentored by a man named Mark Bruner. Mark did not just share words of wisdom with me. He shared his whole life – good, bad and ugly. I saw a grown man become vulnerable with someone he did not have to be vulnerable with. He opened up the path for me to be vulnerable with him about my life’s victories and struggles, and boy, it was hard! It would be an understatement to say that iron sharpening iron produces sparks, but the sparks that arose from soul rubbing soul gave way to a fire of zeal, purity and wholeness.
We did life together – ordinary things like getting meals around Cincinnati, driving to the airport together, sharing life’s challenges, victories and encouraging each other. I learned from Mark, watched him lead his family and got to love and serve him even as he did the same for me. He invested his time and poured his resources into me, and most importantly, he walked side by side with me as we both pursued a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
I once heard someone illustrate a mentor/student relationship with the metaphor of a bow and an arrow. He explained that the bow and arrow are both necessary for effectiveness and usefulness. Like the arrow, youths have speed and like the bow, adults have direction. Alone, they can’t do too much, but paired together, they can hit their target. Check out Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of young men [and women] is their strength, and the honor of old men [and women] is their gray hair. The gray hair of elderly experience must partner with the vigor and zeal of youth!”
It is wise to learn from older ones who have walked ahead of us and can guide us to avoid foolish mistakes of our youth. In obeying and following their guidance, we achieve greater results because we bring in old lessons and learn new ones too. I have drunk deep from the fountain of discipleship, and it has only made me thirst for more. Will you invest in someone and allow someone to invest in you? Now is the time!