In his book Apple Confidential, Owen W. Linzmayer tells of the interaction between John Scully and Steve Jobs, the founder and chief of Apple Computer. Scully, then the legendary CEO of Pepsico, tells how he repeatedly turned down Jobs's compelling offers to come head up Apple. Until one day when Jobs said something that rocked Scully's world,
"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"
That was the defining moment. Scully changed his mind, quit one of the most lucrative, high-profile CEO positions in America, and moved to California to join the team of this small, upstart computer company with a vision.
Here's the question I'm putting to you,
"Do you want to change the world?"
Jesus told us His purpose. Recorded by His best friend on Earth, John, He said, "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).
What did He mean by "life" and by "have it to the full"?
Jesus gave us life by rescuing us from death. Yes, that sounds vague and metaphoric, but it's not. It's real and matter of fact. We would have died, and that would have been it. Game over. We would have had no hope beyond the grave.
But because Jesus fulfilled His life purpose, we know that men will die and still live. Jesus did. He died a public, undeniable death and then miraculously and supernaturally came back to life, showing Himself to His mentorees and to five hundred other people. If He did that, I'm in for whatever He says I need to do that can allow me to do that too. That's not all He meant by giving us "life," but it's a huge part of it.
But more, He wanted to show us the kind of life that God intended for us to have. A life filled with meaning and wonder... as close to the life that Adam and Eve had before they declared their independence and decided that they knew better than God how to have the best life now.
That life, that "God life," is a life of purpose.
I recently heard a speaker addressing the question of longevity. He said everyone needs to get up every day with something to do—some duty, task, calling, some purpose—a reason to be.
When I think about the life Jesus lived, the life He modeled for me, I see someone who loved and served people. He was intentional about it. And when I try to understand that last part of His purpose statement... "and have it to the full"... I think I understand what He meant.
As Christians, when we accept the Father's offer of salvation through Jesus, we get "life"... eternal life. And we get a life of peace while we finish out our days here on Earth.
But if we want the second part, "and have it (life) to the full," we have to move beyond the gift of our salvation. We have to want more. We have to get involved in the cause that Jesus started... the cause of redemption. We have to become others focused. We have to start thinking outside our own little world and ask God: "How can I help? What would You have me do? I know that my purpose is to bring glory to You... to make You more famous, but how would You have me do that? Help me find my unique purpose in Your kingdom!"
The p word is certainly everywhere today. Since Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life and sold a gazillion copies, everyone wants to talk about purpose. That's because it's important, and when we talk about something as vague as mentoring, then purpose becomes even more important. But let's get clear on the terminology.
A mission or goal is about what. It's measurable and finite. If my mission is to become a CPA, then I know what I have to do, and I'll know when I complete the mission.
Strategies and tactics are about how. When we strategize, we think about how we use our time, talent, and treasure to accomplish the mission or achieve our goal. My strategy to become a CPA might include doing an internship, going back to college, working for an accounting firm for a year, studying my brains out at night, and then sitting for the CPA exam five years from now. That's a strategy to accomplish a goal or mission.
But purpose is about why. It's not really measurable. It's understandable yet vague. Warren's mantra is that we're all created for a specific purpose... to glorify God. And he's right. That is the overarching purpose of every person and every thing. God created everything for His glory. We are His highest and greatest creation, created in His image.
He created us because He wanted a family, and He sent Jesus to become His "adoption agency" for us. The paperwork is all filled out... the fees are paid. All we have to do to complete the adoption process is to believe.
Once we're adopted, we're irrevocably in His family. We can't be "unadopted," just as an adopted child in America can't be unadopted. It's a status that isn't changed because of bad behavior or anything else. It's permanent.
Now that we are God's children, what do we do with our lives that will make our Father in heaven proud of us... make Him glad that He adopted us?
Become like Him. Become like our loving, kind, wise, disciplined Father. To make Himself understandable to us, our God became one of us and lived on the earth for a while, in view of a bunch of eyewitnesses (a few of which He inspired to write down what they heard and saw), and modeled what He wanted us to be like.
Mentoring is not about coming to know something; that would be education. Mentoring isn't about learning to do something; that would be training.
Mentoring is about showing someone how to be something. It's about becoming a learner and follower of Jesus Christ because that's what makes our Father most pleased. It's also what makes Jesus most famous because millions of us are running around the world emulating Jesus. And as someone said, you only know that you're a follower of Jesus when you've helped someone else become a follower of Jesus. That's what next-generation mentoring can do, and with enough men and women becoming active followers of Jesus, we can change the world.
About 350 years after Christ, the Roman emperor Julian (AD 332-363) wanted to reinstitute faithfulness to the pagan religions of Rome but struggled because Christians were doing such good things for people, even strangers, that they rendered the Roman gods irrelevant.
Wouldn't it be cool to render the pagan gods of the twenty-first century irrelevant by having millions of Christ followers become so genuine in their faith that they changed the world with their kindness, mercy, and generosity?
I believe that can happen. Not through televangelism, crusades, or megachurches... but through mentoring. We must emulate what Jesus did—help men and women become learners and followers of Jesus Christ with a passion and commitment to pay it forward to others.
Modern-day church people love classes, seminars, Bible studies, and small groups. We show up, sit in circles or rows, listen, share, pray, eat, and leave. Usually we do some homework in between meetings, but it's not too much (by design because we don't want to have fewer people involved by making it too hard... more on that later).It's neat. It's predictable. It's noninvasive. It's easily merged into our wrinkle-free lives.
Mentoring is different. There isn't a curriculum per se. There isn't a video with discussion questions. There isn't a form you fill out at the end that says, "Joe Smith has completed blankety-blank course."
You can get dirty mentoring people. They bring real issues to the table. And those issues require mentors to get personal, transparent, and exposed. One of the most common phrases a mentor says is, "I don't know. I can tell you what I did when... Here's how it turned out. Here's what I wish I had done. Here's what Jesus said about it. Here's what I missed."
Many times I've left meetings with mentorees and gone to my knees asking God, "Why is this happening to him? I don't get it." Many times I've prayed for one of my mentorees' situations, and not only did I not get my prayer answered, but I sensed God was totally silent.
Then I realized my role... to help the younger ones interpret what's happening the right way, the scriptural way... the God way. Through it all, I'm practicing my own faith and making it stronger.
Other than my intimate relationship with the Father, nothing has given me more direction in life than my life purpose statement. Without it I probably wouldn't be a mentor.
Earlier I mentioned The Purpose Driven Life and Rick Warren's assertion that we are all here to "glorify God." I agree.
But how? How do we glorify God? How can we make our lives be a praise to Him?
After a lot of thinking, praying, and editing, my life purpose statement was finally settled:
"I, Regi Campbell, glorify God by loving and serving others and by challenging them to be all they can be and to give all of themselves to Jesus Christ."
Do you see the three operative words—love, serve, and challenge? Let me explain.
Love. It's inarguable that Christ followers are to love God and love one another. Love is a verb, not only a noun. Love that is real is demonstrated. When Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself," He meant to do it and not just talk about it.
The second word is serve. This is where love takes action. Rick Warren, in a recent talk to the Catalyst Conference, said, "The church has amputated its hands and its feet, and all that's left is its mouth." We talk about serving, but in large part we serve the institution of the church. We serve each other within the church... and that's about it.
Mentoring younger ones puts hands and feet onto loving and serving. That's why everyone who has maturity in the faith can do it. And everyone who needs maturity in the faith needs to be mentored.
The third word is where it gets dicey. My third word is challenge. I'm a challenger. When I wrote down my philosophy of life when it comes to relationships, it's "to bring a smile to the face and reflection to the heart of every person I meet."
I heard a sermon yesterday at a church in another city. The well-meaning pastor said, "You are each created for a specific purpose... specific only to you. It's up to you to go out there and discover what that purpose is and fulfill it."
As my friend John says, "That's like telling me to go stand in the corner of a round room!"
How on Earth are we to figure out what our unique purpose is? Just to think about it is daunting. We're all so different. How could we each have a unique purpose? Yet I believe it's out there... that God wired, gifted, and experienced each of us differently; for His unique purpose and calling to His kingdom work.
When I engage with my mentorees, there's a strong sense of challenge in the air. I start by challenging them to be on time, somewhat of a lost practice in our culture and particularly in church world. I challenge them by requiring them to do their homework assignments. I challenge them to be open and transparent. I'll ask personal questions and demand honest answers. I test their assumptions. I question the premise of their assumptions. I force them to consider what God says about the situation in His Word. Because that's how I'm wired. That's the purpose God built into me. He will use me and that challenging gift in the lives of my mentorees, but only for a defined period of time.
I won't be the last or only mentor these guys will have. I'm in their lives for one year. God may bring an encourager into their lives after their year with me. Or a coach sometime after that. I'm only responsible for being what I am, doing what the Lord wired me to do, and using the gifts, talents, and experiences that He's placed in me.
Since Jesus was the only complete mentor, the only mentor who could fully challenge and encourage, then I can't possibly be all of these things for my mentorees. My prayer is that they will learn all they can from me but then move on to be mentored by others in the future. In my dreams churches would form teams of mentors, understand their particular gifts and purposes, and connect mentorees with mentors sequentially so that people would be intentionally exposed to multiple mentors and their various offerings.
What does next-generation mentoring look like when it's done? What are we shooting for here?
For me, it's about producing more godly men.
Vague? Yes. But it is what it is.
But what a BHAG... big, hairy, audacious goal!
I want every guy that goes through the mentoring year with me to become a more godly man and a more serious Christ follower.
And to be more specific:
That's a tall order, especially for a regular guy like me who has business, family, church, and other ministry things to do. And all this should happen in one year?
Obviously, God has to do something special if progress on these goals is to happen in that short a time frame. And so He's intimately involved in the process: loving, challenging, affirming, stretching—all the things a perfect father would do as He raises a son.
It's also cool that the mentorees are getting help from the "best and brightest" of our generation. As they read, they're mentored by the authors—Andy Stanley, Gordon MacDonald, Gary Smalley, and others. A lot can happen in a year when you sit at the feet of teachers like these.
Next-generation mentoring works because it starts with the inner man and his relationship with his heavenly Father. With clarity in that relationship, focus moves to the way the inner man thinks, acts, and then relates first with himself and then with his wife, children, and the rest of his relationships in the world.
Jesus' purpose translated into action.
Jesus' choice of mentoring a small group of followers to effect His mission was a brilliant decision. Just do the math: twelve disciples, multiplying themselves over and over, and the number of people getting the message is overwhelming. There was no more effective way to get an important message out in the first century with no Internet, TV, or direct mail. What's really cool is that today, even with all that technology, individual influence, word of mouth, multiplication is still the most powerful way to communicate a message. Companies spend billions today to create brands, viral marketing, and buzz, all for the purpose of spreading the message quickly and effectively to millions of people.
And the message that Jesus has is unique. It's not about a theology or a doctrine as much as it is about a man... His origin, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His purpose for the world. In the first-century world there was no more powerful communications vehicle than the firsthand account of an eyewitness who saw something. That was the first step in God's plan to reveal the message of Jesus: to have Him "live out loud" in front of a small group of people, His disciples, and thus position them to describe firsthand what they heard and saw.
I'm Richard Chancy, and as Regi takes you through mentoring as Jesus did it, I'll chime in with how it looks from my perspective... that of a mentoree. I was in Regi's seventh group, but I've gotten feedback from most of the guys who were in all of the other groups. I'll try to speak for them as well.
I'm a relentless self-help junkie. When I graduated from college, the first book I read cover to cover was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It was the first book I had ever voluntarily read. After that I was hooked on self-improvement. I read anything I can get my hands on that has to do with professional, spiritual, or physical growth.
When I had the opportunity to be mentored on a personal level by Regi Campbell, I was all in. In my circle, Regi is known as "a rock-star" Christian business guy, and this mentoring group was a pretty hot ticket. I had to go through a selection process which, by the way. I didn't make it through the first time I tried. But once I was in, I was all the way in, and I brought some specific expectations with me.
I hoped to get a few things in particular out of this group. I'm a networker, and I have a knack for building long-lasting relationships. Connecting with Regi and some other new guys was appealing. I had the opportunity to make friendships that will be lifelong.
Another expectation I had was to have a high level of accountability. I don't know how much of that is a result of my drive for personal growth or my competitive nature, but I desire to be held to a high standard. I felt that next-generation mentoring would be a pretty intense season as far as accountability was concerned.
The main reason I was interested, however, was Regi's business acumen. I have been fortunate to work in environments on every part of the spectrum from nonprofit ministries to for-profit companies owned by Christians, to one of the largest brokerages on Wall Street. But the one thing my career most lacked was true entrepreneurial guidance.
Regi had been a part of several tech start-ups, as well as being on the ground floor of helping my church, North Point Community Church, get started. Who better to learn from than a guy with all that experience? So I packed my expectations up and got started.
I want to make sure that I draw a clear line for you between what I expected from mentoring and what I actually got out of it. There is a dramatic difference, and I was surprised by the growth I saw and continue to see. I had one plan, and God had another.
The biggest "aha" from my mentoring experience came from developing my purpose statement. We were asked to fill in these blanks:
"I exist to serve by____________ ____________."
This statement had a deep effect on me for two reasons: (1) "I exist" assumes that we were created for a reason. (2) "To serve" means that my existence is about serving God and other people.
For several days I focused... thinking... praying... allowing God to guide me. Then I got the answer. God placed two words on my heart... igniting passion. I exist to serve by igniting passion. This statement was a revelation for me. I was both overwhelmed and humbled by what it could mean to ignite passion. I found my focus, and I'm living out of my strengths more than ever. Igniting passion is what I'm trying to do here. I want to ignite passion in you for mentoring!
It's hard to predict exactly what you'll experience or what you'll learn about yourself during the mentoring year. It will require more of you than you may be used to giving. But the way of Christ always does. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that I'd have bailed on being mentored before it even began if I knew how tough it would be to learn the lessons that I learned. Now I'm confident that this season of being invested in, of being mentored, will yield a return for the rest of my life and then some.
Looking back, I don't think I ever stopped to think about why Regi would take the time to do this. Here is a guy that appears to be on top of the world. He's had tremendous success and is now just getting to the point of enjoying life and watching his children enjoy theirs. So in a world of "me first," why would he take the time to mentor a group of guys who think they have it all figured out?
The answer is simple.
Regi mentors because God led him to mentor. He simply obeyed.
I don't know what led you to pick up this book, but if you're reading this, maybe God is telling you to do the same thing.
Maybe now is a good time to do a half-time report. Look at your life and ask yourself, "How's it going?" Is it time to stop and evaluate... maybe take on a new challenge? If so, I hope you'll strongly consider walking the path with a group of guys for a year as a mentor. You won't regret it.