My church has started a leader's blog, and I put my first post today. In response to a question about the difference between discipleship, mentoring, and leadership...here's what I wrote:
There is a real sense in which your non-Walgreens [who was saying his most sought-after quality in people he hired was clarity] guy was whining for a world that is gone, and may not come back. Clarity--the world in the 19th and 20th centuries really believed that science would provide clarity to the mysteries of the world, only to have deeper mysteries revealed. Unfortunately, the modern church offered a reactive kind of "clarity" that was, as John Walters hints, unauthentic. I was there. When I was 22, there were 4,036 things that I KNEW clearly to be black and white. I spoke about them on TV, I debated them on the student union grounds. I was full of clarity. And now, almost 20 years later, I think I was wrong on many (most?) of those issues.
I now have about 4 or 5 issues that are non-negotiables for me (see, I don't even have clarity on how many there are!), issues that I will stake my life on and live or die by. I personally believe that discipleship happens away from the center of clarity and at the margins of life, where real life challenges faith and faith sometimes falters, sometimes steps up and responds, knowing God loves regardless of the circumstances.
Discipling, mentoring, leading--like most other words in our culture, they change in meaning with the times in which we live. They have meanings that we pour into them depending on the circumstances we're in. 10 years ago leadership was all the buzz, and, quite frankly, both inside and outside the church we hyped everyone up into thinking they were or could be leaders.
Unspoken common sense said "Uh, not all at the same time you can't."
Our lives have both intentional and unintentional impacts on those around us. To me, mentoring has an intentionality about it at least on the part of the mentor. Disciple, in its NT form, is an apprentice, something that our 21st century world has no clue about. We no longer apprentice ourselves to other people to learn a trade--that left with the onset of the industrial revolution and the rise of the modern university. Leadership is whatever Jim Collins, Tom Peters, Bill Hybels, John Maxwell or Bono happens to say it is at the moment.
The real truth for me is the management and mystery of our relationships. Management because there can be a "sweet science" to the intentionality we take to impact the world through relationships. Mystery because the reality is often that we are the proverbial blind beggars who have only caught a brief flash of the light and nourishment of God and we're groping in that direction, hoping we're moving rightly and not alone.