Wise spiritual mentors heed the example of the master mentor, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospels’ records concerning the Lord’s preparation of the Twelve Apostles provide many valuable principles on how to help people mature in faith and be prepared for a life of service. This article discusses two such principles.
Focus on the Heart
Throughout His earthly ministry, the Lord primarily addressed people’s hearts. His Sermon on the Mount radiates with emphasis concerning the internal aspects of human life (Mt. 5-7). Christ taught His disciples that the heart is the fountainhead of “evil thoughts” and all kinds of sin. What is in the heart will eventually become manifest in life-defiling actions (Mt. 15:19-20). In several instances, Jesus denounced the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees before His disciples (Mt. 15:1ff; 23:1ff; Lk. 11:37ff; 12:1). He also affirmed that the two great commands were to love God and man (Mt. 22:37-40). Christ warned against covetousness (Lk. 12:1, 14-15). Ministerial competence—theological knowledge and practical effectiveness—must not satisfy pastor-mentors. They must ever aim for the heart, seeking to cultivate love for God and man, and integrity in the lives of ministerial students.
Emphasize Scripture-Based Life and Ministry
The Lord Jesus prepared His disciples in a manner that emphasized living and ministering according to God’s Word and will. As the gospel accounts confirm, He exhibited an exceedingly high view of Scripture and the Father’s will. Christ taught that the Word of God always takes priority in importance and authority over man’s traditions and commandments (Mt. 15:3, 9). He also instructed them concerning the necessity of possessing a right kind of heart—one that is “honest and good” when receiving God’s Word (Lk. 8:4ff; Mt. 13:3ff); lives are changed only when one shows an appropriate response to divine revelation. For the Lord, hearing and keeping God’s Word is a more blessed condition than Mary’s privilege to be an instrument in bearing the Messiah (Lk. 11:27-28). Christ viewed the fulfillment of God’s Word and will as necessary (Jn. 9:4). The Lord’s firm obedience to drink the cup of suffering demonstrated His utter commitment to the will of the Father.
The Lord’s commitment to God’s Word and will affected all the facets of His earthly ministry. For instance, divine revelation and the Father’s will dictated Christ’s goals and purposes. His meat was doing the Father’s will (Jn. 4:34). He remained faithful to His mission to preach the kingdom of God (Mk. 1:38; Lk. 4:43). He came down from heaven not to do His own will but the will of the Father (Jn. 6:38). What Christ accomplished on earth was the work which the Father had given Him to do (Jn. 17:3). Christ’s pursuit of God’s revelation and will also determined His actions. He kept the Father’s sayings. In a remarkable statement, the Lord said, “I do always those things that please [the Father]” (Jn. 8:29). By the Lord’s ministry, the Father did His work (Jn. 14:10). “As the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do,” Jesus said (Jn. 14:31). In addition to His purposes and actions, Jesus’ message was also permeated with Scripture and submission to the Father’s will. He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent Me” (Jn. 7:16-18). “As [His] Father hath taught [him],” the Lord Jesus spake “these things” (Jn. 8:28). He uttered that which He had seen with His Father (Jn. 8:38). Additionally, He said that the Father “gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (Jn. 12:49). He did not speak from His own initiative and authority (Jn. 14:10).
Pastors must instill in the hearts of future pastors the priority of God’s Word for life and ministry. Ministerial students must understand that Christian ministry is essentially a ministry of the word, a kind of endeavor that must be completely governed by Scriptures. Obviously, this aspect of mentoring can be done only by pastors who are practicing Biblicists. It is a sobering reality that the level of commitment to Scriptures in current ministers will have a significant effect on the ministry philosophy and practice of succeeding generations of pastors.
 For instance, He put the spotlight on the internal motives underlying the sinful acts of murder and adultery (Mt. 5;21-22, 27-28). He instructed His listeners not perform any righteous deeds for the purpose of being seen by men (Mt. 6:1ff). If the heart is right, good works will follow (Mt. 6:22-23). Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 5 (Matthew to John) (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.), 150. A good heart “bringeth forth that which is good;” and evil heart produces evil deeds. From “the abundance of [one’s] heart the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45).
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.