Spiritual Mentorship - Walking Together
Chan Gin Kai
For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:9-11)
When Jesus called Simon, James and John to follow him. It was not simply a call to believe in him but to become like him. They were to join him and "fish for people". They “left everything and followed him”. That “everything” they immediately left behind included their boats and nets, their careers as fishermen, and that amazing load of fish they had just caught.
We have been called by Jesus to do the same too. We are not merely called to believe in him and become better people. We are to become like him, and lead others to God. It is not about making adjustments or adapting to new schedules, but an entire paradigm shift in our lives. Sacrifice is required for transformations to happen.
Simon, James and John’s education to become fishers of people was not done through classroom lectures, but through following Jesus. They walked with him. It is the system of apprenticeship or mentorship, where the apprentice learns from the mentor through years of observation, imitation and lots of practice. That’s exactly what those guys did.
They followed Jesus, walking together from town to town, city to city. There were some private times when he instructed them. But most of the time, they learnt by simply being with him. They listened to how he preached, they observed his personal interactions with people, and they saw how he loved.
Jesus also sent out the Twelve to proclaim the Kingdom (Luke 9:1-3), and he later sent out 72 to do the same too (Luke 10:1-2). They were asked to do what they had seen him done many times before. It is not the mere mental absorption of teachings, but the practice that embeds the lessons deeper into our hearts.
We are fortunate, as our church matures, to have very well developed curriculum and programs. But it becomes dangerous if we end up teaching from a syllabus, and neglect mentorship. We sometimes go for the most efficient methods, failing to see that there’s no quick fix or one-size-fits-all when it comes to people’s lives.
Mentorship requires both mentor and apprentice to enter into each other’s lives, but we sometimes hesitate to form relationships where our lives become open books. We are willing to spend the time to counsel. We are willing to invest the effort to psychoanalyse their minds and understand their behaviour. But we’re reluctant to open up our hearts and become vulnerable. As a result, we manage to engage people’s minds through instruction, but we fail to lift their hearts with inspiration, or move their lives through influence.
When we detach our hearts in our roles as mentors, we dispense advice and set guidelines, but fail to walk with the people we’re helping. We tell them to pray more, but do not pray together with them. We teach them to evangelise but we’re not by their side as they share the gospel. We become coffee-stirring counsellors, prescribing righteousness from the comfort of a café. We share our wisdom and knowledge freely when what they really need are mentors who'll do it with them. People need examples to follow.
Paul described it best when he wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). That’s what spiritual mentorship is about.
Follow the example of your mentor. Walk with your apprentice.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".