3. The tendency to select the wrong people: In our zeal (and insecurity) to help others, we may be inclined to commit ourselves to the first people who show an interest in being mentored. In your ministry you need to decide whether you are running a field hospital for the sick and wounded, or a combat center for training laborers for the harvest field. Both are legitimate, but they must not be confused with each other. Just be sure you know the difference. Keep in mind: Counsel the weak; coach the strong.
Years ago while in college a woman discipler showed up on our campus looking for candidates. Somehow she latched on to the most mal-adjusted, and emotionally needy girl at the school. Suddenly, the relatively well adjusted, spiritually receptive young women were unavailable. Not everyone who is accessible is the right choice: During the time he was in Jerusalemmany people noticed the signs [Jesus] was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them. (Jn. 2:23-25 Msg)
In the selection process, there needs to be a filtering mechanism. I understand, for example, that the New York Yankees baseball organization has four farm clubs. When they need a top flight third baseman, they call down to the farm clubs and select the most qualified player available in that position. Christ ministered broadly over the first six months of his public ministry. He then spent a night in prayer before selecting the twelve from the masses: 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. (Lk. 6:12, 13)
In our pride we can unwittingly select the gifted and attractive; people perhaps who cater to our own pride, but who do not have the basic character upon which to build a true disciple. Israel made that mistake of choosing a hollow but physically attractive man to be their king. When he withered under pressure, God instructed Samuel the priest to look for Sauls replacement with this qualifier: Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Sam. 16:7)
Gods selection criteria can be surprising: God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? (I Cor. 1:27,28 – Msg) (See Ex. 18:21; Acts 6:3) I remember a diminutive, rather unkempt student at one of our universities who possessed a great heart for God and his fellow-students. His teeth were crooked, his grammar tortured, and his social demeanor awkward. Most would classify him as a nobody. Yet, because of his great love, scores of collegians sought him out for counseling, discipling, and leadership training. He reminds me of the old adage, God has the uncomfortable habit of putting his hands on the wrong person.
You may want to look for people the following qualities to mentor:
F AITHFUL – Paul: I have no one else like [Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. ButTimothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. (Phil. 2:19-22 selected) (See Pro. 25:192 Tim. 2:10)
A VAILABLE – "Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt. 4:19, 20) (See Matt. 4:22, 22; 9:9; Lk. 9:57-62)
A – BLE to teach others And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2 NKJ) (See 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24-27)
I NTER-DEPENDENT Love one another fervently with a pure heart. (I Pet. 1:22b) (See Rom. 12:10, 16; 1 Cor. 1:10; 16:20; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2; 5:19; Col. 3:13, 16; 1 Thes. 5:11; Heb 3:13; Heb. 10:24; Jms. 4:11; 1 Pet. 3:8; 4:9)
T EACHABLE – The Greek word for disciple is mathetes, which means a learner; a pupil. Come unto metake my yoke upon you, and learn of me (Matt. 11:28, 29 selected) (See Jn. 6:45; Phil. 4:9; 2 Tim. 3:14; Heb 5:8)
H EART– My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Psa. 84:2) (See Psa. 27:8; 42:1,2; 63:1; 119:58; 81; 143:6)