Jimmy arrived at my house promptly at 8 a.m. to take me to the airport. He has often done this for me. Jimmy and his wife, Natalie, head overseas later this year as missionaries. He has been in a small group that I lead; he and Natalie also lead a small group at our local church.
But Jimmy was doing more than giving me a ride to the airport. This trip demonstrates the primary approach I take toward mentoring. I rarely ever go on a driving trip alone, and I virtually never drive to the airport by myself. Whenever I can, in the normal course of life, I involve someone I am mentoring. Talking about life and godliness in this context gives life to a mentoring relationship. I call this informal mentoring.
Examine the life of Christ in the Gospels and notice His approach: Jesus spoke to multitudes. He fed thousands. He taught many. He sent out seventy to witness, but He changed the world with only twelve. Even more than that, He poured Himself especially into three: Peter, James, and John.
The greatest impact I have made as a teacher and a minister has been not through preaching to crowds or teaching classes, as vital as those are. It has been those individuals who have walked with me beyond the classroom or small group in normal, everyday life, talking about ministry and theology to be sure, but talking as well about living life for Christ.
I believe in formal mentoring, and I regularly meet with one man or a few men to invest in them. At the very least, informal mentoring can be added to more formal approaches, and in my opinion is the superior mode, for it is the approach Jesus used.