8 ways to make the best of your Apprenticeship.
Becoming an apprentice is not usually as simple as finding someone to mentor you. Most good mentors have a line of people wanting to be mentored or discipled by them. But they have limited time, so they have to decide where to place their investment.
Your best bet, if you can find it, is to get involved with someone who is mentoring small groups of people. This allows for the best learning experience, and you can learn a lot from several different perspectives. This is what Jesus did with his disciples. They were learning from what Jesus said to them individually, but also from what he did or said to other disciples while they were present.
But even among the disciples, there were some who stuck out, Peter, James, and John were known as the inner circle because Jesus chose them. But having mentored many people myself, I think there are reasons that Jesus chose these 3. They were serious about being mentored, they sought a more profound experience, and Jesus invested more deeply into them. If you want this same experience here are some tips to help you be a better apprentice:
Pursue Discipleship: Don’t just wait for it to happen to you. If you desire to be mentored or discipled, you must actively pursue it. Ask questions, get your mentors opinion on important decisions. Let them challenge your ideas and your theology. Ask them questions like:
“How could I have done that better?”
“What do you think about _____?”
“What areas do you think I can improve in?”
If you permit them to speak into the most sensitive areas of your life, you are opening yourself up to their guidance in ways most people prefer to avoid, but you show your mentor that you are serious. If you are willing to adjust your beliefs and behaviours your mentor will likely be more inclined to invest in you.
Teachability: This one is a must. If you are not teachable then you might as well give up now. If you think you already know everything you need to know and you are almost always right, you will never be a good apprentice. You would be surprised how many apprentices go to their Mentor with this attitude. Be teachable, recognize that your mentor knows more than you and as he guides you make adjustments and see if his suggestions and direction helped you at all. If they do, tell him what their guidance did to help you.
Read & Discuss: If you are not already a reader, you better start. Develop your mind. Challenge yourself. Some people are more inclined to read than others. If you like to read or you want to become a more prolific reader, Get suggestions from your mentor. Read and discuss it with him. If you are not a reader, that is no excuse. At least be an avid reader of the scriptures and regularly share what you are reading with your mentor.
Draw from many wells: Seek multiple mentors from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. It’s not always good to only have one mentor. Maybe try to have mentors for various parts of your life. One may speak to your spiritual life, another into your professional or family life. There will be overlap, but diversity will help you be well rounded.
Develop a watchful eye: Observe what your mentor does in different situations. Would you have done it the same way? Discover why he does what he does. If you can't figure it out, politely ask. If you think you have figured it out, ask anyway just to confirm. Be sure you are asking to learn why and not because you think you know a better way.
Be a helper: Especially to your mentor's family. Likely your mentor will give up time with his family to mentor and disciple you. Pay him back by helping out with something his family needs. Go to the store, babysit, run an errand, etc. Helping his family shows genuine love to them and helps his spouse to know you and participate in your discipleship.
Find someone to mentor: Everyone should have a Paul and a Timothy in their life, meaning: someone they are discipling and someone they are being discipled by. If you want your mentor to know you are serious, find an apprentice and start teaching them what you know and what you are learning from your mentor. This is how your mentor begins to take you seriously, and it will cause him to be even more intentional in his discipleship of you because he knows it is being passed on to the one you are mentoring.
Learn to share interests: If your mentor likes country music, give it a try. If he is into photography or art, see if he can teach you something. It is these things that create a bond and take an average mentorship to the next level. Plus you might learn something unexpected.
I hope these tips help you on your road to Spiritual Maturity. If you want to learn more about the Mentorship experience check out these other blog posts:
I just wanted to clarify 2 things.
When I say he when referring to a mentor, I am not saying only men can be mentors.
I use Mentorship and Discipleship interchangeably because in the Christian context these are the same concepts.