Oswald Chambers once wrote: "It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man has the lasting influence." We see this in Jesus Christ; in the 33 years of his life, what he was (and is) and the atmosphere left behind have produced the lasting influence for everyone touched by Christianity.
I understand the truth of this as I look back at our organization over the past eight years. We have been blessed with both servanthood and mentoring.
What do I mean by servanthood? The simple answer is that a servant is one who is willing to provide services to others. In practice, this involves three words that start with the letter "s": service, sacrifice and self-denial.
The first "s" is easily understood. Service means an expertise or unique experience that one can provide. The second "s," sacrifice, means, at a minimum, one's time. It might mean more, like providing networking, finances, or other resources. The third "s," self-denial, takes aim at the degree of self-interest one is willing to give up or deny to serve others.
I have been often asked, "Who can be a servant?" or "What does it take to practice servanthood?" As it has evolved in our organization, those members who could provide a service and practiced some degree of sacrifice turned out to be good servants. As members tried this out, gradually there were more sacrifices and at least an attempt at self-denial.
In the Great Commission, the Lord asks us to do something that is the most difficult for me; that is to "go and make disciples." This is not talking about bringing someone to Christ, although that is very important. Rather, discipleship is a mentoring process. It is one-on-one.
Being a mentor, one who can disciple others, is tougher than servanthood. A mentor must "live" with his people. He must develop a relationship with the person he is mentoring. When sorrow and suffering strike, he does not just share the feeling of hurt but also feels the cause of the suffering.
A mentor must service his people. It is deeds, not words, which count. Sacrifice is the crucial element in this service. Peter and John must have thought back to Christ's words, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13). They realized that the Lord had been their friend and servant. Thus, disciples were born.
Looking at these requirements, it is my observation that mentoring necessitates that a fourth "s" be added to the first three: sanctification. In sanctification, as Oswald Chambers put it, "The regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies oneself entirely with God's interest in other men."
Should one shy away from being a mentor, or should one stride forward toward the goal? Our organization has a few mentors now, but hopefully it will be blessed with many, many more in the future.
Image credit: servant hood by Lectionary on Flickr