Mentor Mayhem – Advisors, Coaches, and Mentors


I’m feeling a little guilty. I’ve been allowing people to call me their mentor when really I was more of a coach or advisor.

What’s the difference?


An advisor gives advice. It’s periodic. There’s no requirement for the advisor to understand much beyond the particular problem presented by the advisee. We need advisors but let’s not confuse them with mentors.


A coach is someone who helps a disciple with a particular set of skills. And just like a baseball coach, they focus on the skills we need to succeed. After practice or a game, they go their separate ways to live their separate lives. Needed? Yes! Mentor? No!


A mentor, on the other hand, is quite a different animal. Yes, they are a combination of advisor and coach but he or she is a whole lot more. They are spiritual leaders who watch over your soul (Heb 13.17). They concern themselves with the whole of your life. It’s one of the heaviest and most rewarding responsibilities a disciple maker can ever be given. I have a lot to say when it comes to describing a mentor, but the bottom line is that they love you intensely, know you thoroughly, and can effectively help you become more like Jesus. This is quite a bit more than giving advice or teaching ministry skills.

But here’s the problem. As much as we need mentors of this caliber in our lives, they are rare. Part of the reason they are so few is that a lot of disciples have never had a mentor themselves and don’t even know where to begin. Another issue is that mentors often take on too many mentees and lose their potency (guilty!). No one wants to be the guy to hold someone back in their development, so saying no is gut-wrenching. On the other hand, if you don’t say no, you rob those you are already leading. Smart mentors limit the number of people they work with in order to be effective.

Some of you may be wondering, “With the bar so high, how can I ever be a mentor?” Everyone has to start somewhere, and mentoring is a learned skill just like anything else. Hopefully, you have a good mentor, and you can follow their example. But many of you don’t and will have to do a little OJT (On the Job Training). Realistically, I only have the capacity to mentor 5-8 people. So, I’m going to put on my advisor’s hat and write for a while on what it means to be a mentor. Hopefully, this advisor can get a few more mentors in the fight.

*My definitions.

Call to Action: Make a list of people you think you can mentor. Begin praying through how you will begin the relationship. If you can’t think of anyone, begin praying that God will give you someone.

Blast from the Past: My First Mentor

Barna Quote:


Where’s the Time Going?


Some people have estimated that Jesus spent 10,000 hours with the disciples during His three-year ministry. That’s a little over 9 hours a day. Some days were much longer than that! Jesus taught them, hung out with them at weddings, went fishing with them, ate with them, weathered the storms with them, and went on road trips with them. He lived life with them.side lable

And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach… (Mark 3.14)

But here’s the problem. We are married with kids, have full-time jobs, and have other responsibilities that Jesus didn’t have (not to mention a million distractions we allow to strangle our discretionary time). Some of these time commitments are unavoidable and some are self-inflicted wounds. We need to establish our priorities in order to disciple a few people. We need to get creative and multiply our time.

Deb and I have been making disciples for almost 40 years. We’ve multiplied our time by taking young disciples to our sons’ football and soccer games with us. We invited them to meals. It could be as grand as vacationing with them or as simple as bringing them along on a trip to the hardware store. There were seasons where we were getting together four times a week. But the way to spend the most quality time with them was to move disciples into our home. Challenging? You bet! Inconvenient? At times.  But it was worth every minute of investment in their lives.

You don’t have to move people into your home but here’s the reality; disciple-makers need to find the time to spend with the folks they’re discipling or it won’t go well. Plain and simple. Disciples need mentors that take responsibility for their spiritual growth. Here’s a simple guideline for the time disciples need during the various seasons of life. Notice how time may increase or decrease based on the needs of the season of life and spiritual development.

Time chart 2

Call to Action: Write down the names of 1-3 disciples that you will spend quality time with. Now think through the everyday events. Now invite them to join you.


Blast from the Past – How to start a disciple-making ministry – First be a Disciple

The Three Become Nine (1-3-9)

the 9

Now there are Nine! These are teetering on the precipice, the tipping point for the movement. This is validation that the One has done a good job with the Three. The proof that the Three has done a good job with you is that you are able to reproduce the life of Jesus in others. The baton is in your hands. You have the same intense pursuit of godly character, audacious vision, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. You are the tip of the spear. The movement rests on your shoulders and God willing it will spread to the nations.

You may or may not know the One. You may or may not know all of the Three. But one person you do know is Jesus the Christ. You are committed to the next generation of disciples and churches that will cover the globe and are connected like a chain until the Savior returns. And you know with certainty that the task cannot be finished without the help of others. You will communicate, collaborate, and cooperate with the efforts of the greater body of Christ. You realize that the souls of men and women are at stake; not only in your oikos but in your neighborhood, your city, country, the darkest corners of the earth.

You are in sync with the Father’s heart. You will move forward with complete confidence that you can be the One and do the same with your Three Timothys who will reach the Nine. You are now part of a viral movement of the gospel that has been spanning the globe for over 2000 years. But we are not done.  It’s time to finish the task and obey the Great Commission until there is #NoPlaceLeft. Be strong and courageous! Jesus is with you every step of the way.

Now there are NINE!

Call to Action: Send a boomerang question to the nine. Something like; Did you meet with your Timothys this week? It starts by going from the One through the Three and finally to the Nine and returns through the Three back to the One. Now you have opened a generational communication channel to ask more questions!


You are the One (Part 1)

Focus on the 3 (Part 2)

The Three Become Nine (Part 3)


Focus on the Three (1-3-9)

the 3

You may help many but you focus on the Three. The beginning of multiplying disciples, churches, and leaders. Some of them have come into the faith recently, others have been walking with Jesus for a while. They’ve entrusted their lives to you as a mentor having observed your life and will imitate your faith as you watch over their souls. They will follow you as you follow Christ. But they are not blind followers. You have stressed over and over again, their ultimate authority is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. They are committed to being faithful, available, teachable, and reproducing.

Together, you strive toward being a healthy church. You are family. Your fellowship is encouraging, challenging, and frequent. Together you are in the harvest, loving people, making disciples, imitating Jesus and His followers. You thrive under the influence of one another’s gifts, talents, and abilities. You celebrate each other’s differences. Instead of competing with one another, you serve one another. You’ve covenanted to speak the truth in love with one another in forbearance and patience. You are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. You are a microcosm of what the whole Body of Christ should look like. One team, one mission, one Lord.       

The Three will be the mentors to the Nine. They are the conduit to the next generation. As you have modeled truth and grace in their midst, your labor will not be in vain.  They will teach others to abide richly in Christ, share the gospel, and live out the Word. They pray in total dependence on the Holy Spirit and deeply love those whom God has entrusted to them. Through the highs and lows of ministry, they will persevere in all circumstances. They are compelled to pass the life of Christ on to others who will do the same. They will be fruitful and multiply.

You are focused on the THREE.

Call to Action: Identify your mentor. Ask them to invest in your life at least weekly. Be faithful, available, teachable, and reproducing. Identify your three. Commit to meeting with them at least weekly.

You are the One (Part 1)

Focus on the 3 (Part 2)

The Three Become Nine (Part 3)