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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Dear Colleagues,

SEVEN COMMON MISTAKES WE MAKE IN MENTORING OTHERS: (Part 1 of 5)

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1.  The failure to understand the difference between busyness and fruitfulness:  When you encounter a friend, the question is often asked, How are you? Invariably the response is, busy. The inference is that to be busy is to be significant. Jesus never instructed us to be busy, but he did expect us to be fruitful. In John 15, he assured us that if we would live in him and allow his words to live in us, the natural result would be cleansing, pruning, abiding, and fruitfulness.  You may want to take some time and carefully analyze Jn. 15:1-16:

I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresserHe prunes every branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield. Now, you have already been pruned by my words. You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you.  For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me.  I am the vine itself, you are the branches.  It is the man who shares my life and in whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing.  (Jn. 15:1-5 Phillips Trans.) 

Bearing fruit, Jesus said, is proof of discipleship. (John 15:8) That being the case, the greatest effort you can make toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission is to grow in your walk with God. (Matt. 28:18-20) Why? Simply because you produce what your are. Only healthy, mature trees produce quality fruit.  (Gen. 1:11, 21, 24, 25; Matt. 7:16-20)

So if you are serious about bearing fruit, cut down on your busy, frenetic schedule. In fact, cut it to the bone. Get off the treadmill. Concentrate on in depth, regular quality time with God in his word and prayer. Go deep with God.  And guess what? Fruit will naturally happen.  There simply are no shortcuts to discipleship and fruit-bearing.  (See Gal. 4:19)

2.  The danger of assuming too much:  The story is told of Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, that he would start each season by standing in front of his grizzled, tough, seasoned football pros and hold a football. He’d then look at them and say, "Gentlemen, this is a football." Then he’d go through the basics of blocking, tackling and other fundamentals of the game to hone and craft a team that was outstanding in its day.+

Almost every time I have assumed a certain level of maturity with the people I am attempting to mentor, I have lived to regret it.  If you assume anything, assume people are having trouble in their marriage, struggles with purity, fear, anger, regular quality time alone with God, etc. So start with the basics by carefully building the foundation: Get the word of God into their life, (Quiet Time, Bible study, Scripture memory), teach them to pray, prioritize, share their faith, surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Introduce them to the attributes of God, etc., etc.

Carefully building the spiritual foundation into a persons life is a slow, tedious job.  If you fail here, the superstructure of their life will eventually crumble. (Matt. 7:24-27) While living in Singapore, I observed the 3 years it took to lay the foundation of the new Parliament Building.  Once the foundation was completed, the superstructure was easily completed within six months. To insure you are building a solid foundation into lives, you may want to follow the outline below. Keep in mind that youve only done your job when they own the truth, as demonstrated by the fact that they in turn are passing it on:

Tell him why (he should spend time with God, for example) Motivation

Show him how Demonstration

Get him started Inertia

Keep him going Perseverance

  Pass it on Multiplication

  I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already haveJesus Christ.  (I Cor. 3:10b, 11)

+ Back to the Basics Terry Brock, 2002 American City Business Journals Inc.

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