I recently wrote a short review of “Peaks and Valleys,” a book about the journey a young man takes as he learns how to manage his good and bad times properly. There are tons of lessons we can learn about these times in our lives, but there are also several lessons that we can learn about discipleship.
In the story, there was an old man that lived on the peak, and he started mentoring the young man. The old man had gone through his own peaks and valleys and had learned how to manage them in his life. There are probably dozens of nuggets of truth regarding mentoring and discipling, but here are just a couple:
The old man had already been there
He had already been through the ups and downs in his life. He had successfully implemented what he was teaching the young man. He still remembered the feelings and thought processes as he had to learn the truths himself.
The old man exercised patience
The young was struggling to understand the concepts he was being taught. He was having a hard time making the truths practical. He was frustrated and even a little rude. The old man exercised patience with the young man, remembering again what it was like when he was struggling to learn them himself.
The old man wasn’t surprised when the young man stumbled
After their first time together, the young man went back to his valley to practice the things he learned from the old man. It was great for a while, but then he started to falter. He got discouraged that “the plan” stopped working. He finally went back to the old man, and shared his frustrations. The old man seemed to expect the young man to make the mistakes. It takes time and practice to change our lives, especially in such a dramatic way.
The old man shared just little bits at a time
When we get excited about learning something new, we try to soak up as much as we can as fast as we can. We think we can handle it, but this is often untrue. The old man only shared small pieces at a time. The young man wanted more, but he needed time and experience to let the new information sink in. The Bible teaches this principle: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” (Isaiah 28:10)
The old man prepared the young man to become a mentor
Several times, the old man expressed the importance of sharing his knowledge and experience with others. The young man was quick to try to share his new-found knowledge, but he lacked the skill to do it effectively. As he matured and grew through experience (and by the example of the old man), he learned to share his knowledge with others. He eventually became the old man on the peak, reaching out to help others.
Question: Have you discovered effective ways to mentor and disciple others?