Bo Bosher, the executive director of student ministries at Willow Creek Association, and Judson Poling communicate in their book The Be-With Factor: Mentoring Students in Everyday Life essential qualities that students need in order to engage in an effective mentoring relationship. Not only do mentors have responsibilities, but students being mentor must exemplify traits that would place them on a path toward spiritual maturity. It is vital for the maturation of both student and mentor that we “base [our] choice on inner qualities, not superficial ones.”1 Not saying that we must choose only the spiritual elite, but in order to transform the culture and dynamics within the youth ministry it is pivotal to look “for students who have influence and who are willing to have their influence shaped by the mentoring process.”2 This in turn will allow the youth ministry to grow in peer to peer influence for the sake of the Gospel.
R – Reliable:
Reliability is a quality a Cross Trainer3 is looking for in order to engage in a mentoring relationship with a student. Consistency, dependability, and a willingness to grow is all rooted in the term reliability. In order to disciple someone that person must embody a eagerness to learn, and personify a coachable spirit. Future behavior, for the most part, is predicated upon past performance. Cross Trainers are looking for individuals who “have been faithful over a little [in order to] set [them] over much” (Matthew 25:21 ESV). HAAC Student Ministries is not communicating an unwillingness to love all, but a standard to which the readiness for discipleship will be warranted. Jesus exhibited love, mercy, and grace to all people but selected only a few to pour into and disciple.
The fall out of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas was over the indifference of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, to follow them throughout their ministry. Barnabas, who came and discipled Paul during the birth of his Christian faith, wanted to continue his mentor relationship with Mark by bringing him along with them on their missionary journeys. Paul refused to take “with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38 ESV). Paul seemed to want to severe the mentor relationship due to an unreliability to live out the Gospel. Therefore, “Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 19:40 ESV).
Making a mistake should never forfeit one’s ability to be mentored, but the student must exemplify an eagerness to learn, grow, and be shaped. Without these traits spiritual wisdom will fall on deaf ears. It is imperative that ministers should “not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matthew 7:8 ESV). If we are going to pour our lives out in discipleship, they must be poured into mouths that long and thirst to drink.
E – Excited:
There is no hiding the truth that students “who are excited about the opportunity to be mentored are certainly more likely to benefit from the relationship.”4 This point must be stressed in that “mentoring is not so much lighting a fire under a person as it is taking someone who’s already in motion and providing guidance and channels for their energy.”5 Mentoring is jumping on God’s bandwagon and embracing His effectual work in stirring the student’s heart by the empowerment of the Spirit. Followers of Christ are “recreated in Christ not to run on emotional power but spiritual power — the filling of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit comes to life when we trust in His Word.”6 Cross Trainers become change agents by aligning themselves to what God is doing through the Holy Spirit and teasing those convictions out of the student for the sake of Gospel growth.
The Apostle Paul was exceptional in being able to gage Gospel excitement and channeling those affection toward Kingdom purposes. Paul, hearing of the development of a young follower of Christ, “wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3 ESV). Paul encouraged by the excitement and enthusiasm of Timothy took this developmental prospect and polished him into a minister of the Gospel. Timothy later became an elder at Ephesus to which Paul writes 1 and 2 Timothy to inform him of how to administer the saints of the church. This was all fueled by God’s work in Timothy’s heart and Paul’s awareness to engage where God was moving.
Acts 16:3 ESV, “3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, . .”
A – Authentic:
Being that Cross Trainers seek for Gospel growth, “a student who is unwilling to journey to the deep places of his or her life cannot benefit from the relationship — and will frustrate your attempts to help.”7 The reality in “being known” and “to know” are intertwine in the life of a mentoring relationship. True Gospel growth can not happen when lives are hidden and deceit is present. A person who is willing to be authentic “is a person who is honest about who he or she is — failures and all. Honest confession brings the blessing of forgiveness, and forgiveness brings us back under God’s blessing to enjoy His grace and peace.”8 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them . . . [but] when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible” (Ephesians 5:11, 13 ESV). J. I. Packer explains it well by saying:
Thus, the quality and extent of our knowledge of other people depends more on them than on us. Our knowing them is more directly the result of their allowing us to know them than of our attempting to get to know them. When we meet, our part is to give them our attention and interest, to show them good will and to open up in a friendly way from our side. From that point, however, it is they, not we, who decide whether we are going to know them or not.9
The story of the rich young ruler is indicative of Jesus’s willingness to love, and His apathy toward a lack of authenticity upon the individual. The young man approaches Jesus with an eagerness to communicate his achievements of the law. He is seeking the approval of Jesus, the Rabbi. Yet his understanding and perspective of appeasing God is contrary to the reality that Christ has come to accomplish upon the cross. The adolescent’s “view of the law was completely superficial, external, and man oriented . . . [because] he had not committed physical adultery or murder, because he was not a liar or a thief, and because he did not blaspheme the Lord’s Name or worship idols, he looked on himself as being virtually perfect in God’s eyes.”10 Jesus’s aim was to direct the young man to his internal issue which surfaced around the idea of idolatry. The man’s internal affairs produced in him a stinginess toward serving the poor. Jesus invited him to give all his fortune to the poor “and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21 ESV). This was the call to discipleship. Because of the inability to live authentically with a bent toward coach-ability the “call to discipleship always falls on deaf ears.”11
D – Daring:
As Cross Trainers we are “calling students to climb higher and push beyond their current limits, someone committed to comfort and the status quo is not going to welcome that input — thwarting the very reason you are working with them.”12 The inner working of the Spirit and the character that is produced must be one that “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6 ESV). Our pursuit is not to have students who are willing to jump off of cliffs or ride the highest roller coaster, but individuals who have an “appetite for personal and spiritual growth that causes a willingness to step out of his or her comfort zone if that’s what it takes.”13 Ultimately, the “call to discipleship is thus a call to confess our allegiance to Jesus in the face of a hostile world; to serve Him and His mission, whatever the cost.”14
Joshua and Caleb magnify the daringness that is prescribe in a student that is “READY” to be mentored. Though they were young in age their hearts where cemented in the promises of God in obtaining the promise land. They did not allow their eyes to deceive their heart’s conviction that “all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had . . . [come] to pass” (Joshua 21:45 ESV). Joshua and Caleb experienced the fulfillment of God’s promises on their lives “because [they] wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel” (Joshua 14:14 ESV).
Daring students are not thrill seeker but joy seekers — joy seekers who find their greatest joy in Christ Jesus. This joyful life, or discipleship, is a call “to a distinctive, ‘salty’ lifestyle characterized by good deeds and righteousness.”15 The life given to continuous worship “is the summit of satisfaction that comes from living in fellowship with God.”16 The affectionate pursuit toward godliness “is a Gospel motivation because it is a new taste for God that arises from His work of new creation. . . We possess the strength to deny sinful pleasures because of our delight in a superior pleasure.”17
Y – Young:
When the descriptor of “young” is used it points to “a youthfulness of spirit — primarily shown in teachability.”18 A person who is “a-know-it-all” is a person who can not and will not be discipled. Having a “sober judgement” about yourself is understanding that one is continuously learning and there will always be areas of growth in your life. We are by no means finished products. Yet individuals who tend to live their life as though they are informed in every facet of the world personify an attitude of arrogance, pride, and ignorance. Proverb 15: 31 – 33 (ESV) illustrates this well by saying:
The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Scripture speaks of the one who gives himself to life-giving reproof will be informed and embody a vitality of life. A knowledge and wisdom will flow from the person’s life to inform him of prosperity, joy, and purpose. Those who, out of arrogance and pride, steer away from rebuke will reap in their life sorrow, envy, and regret. The psalmist finishes it off well by extrapolating the truth in that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, yet that wisdom is received in humility. This humility is grounded by a realization of lack, and is followed by a meekness to seek and search for prosperity outside oneself. This humility, as Scripture indicates, is the birth of honor and respect.
HAAC Student Ministries has a desire to live life with students that will press into the Gospel for greatest satisfaction and ultimate fulfillment. Though this journey will not be without its hardship, we — as a ministry — hold fast to the truth of Scripture “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). We seek not to have God bless us with what we can do, but we seek to cultivate what God has already called us to do by His word — disciple. In discipleship we pursue with all eagerness the opportunity to develop people, by the power of the Spirit, “who looks at Jesus . . . [and] actually begins to reflect His beauty in everyday life. The Gospel gives us the eyes to see Jesus as well as the power to look like Him.”19 Though the task is daunting, HAAC Student Ministries seek to lean into the power of the Holy Spirit to draw, guide, lead, and comfort for the glory of the Name of Christ. We look forward to what He will do through us in the life of our church and the good of our community.
1 Bo Bosher and Judson Poling. The Be-With Factor: Mentoring Students in Everyday Life (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2006), 61.
3 HAAC Student Ministries’ discipleship program that encourages students to get into one on one mentoring.
4 Bosher and Poling, 64.
6 Jonathan K. Dodson. Gospel-Centered Discipleship (Crossway: Wheaton, 2012), 80.
7 Bosher and Poling, 65.
8 Dodson, 67.
9 J. I. Pack. Knowing God (IVP Books: Downers Grove, 1993), 35.
10 John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 16 – 23 (Moody Publisher: Chicago, 1988), 191.
11 Ibid., 194.
12 Bosher and Poling, 66.
14 Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything (St. Matthias Press: Kingsford, 2009), 42.
15 Ibid., 52.
16 John Piper. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah Books: Colorado Springs, 2011), 53.
17 Dodson, 79.
18 Bosher and Poling, 66.
19 Dodson, 56.