By Jeremy Zach (This post was originally posted on the LeadSmall blog here)

Every great kid or student has a great mentor.

In the movie Star Wars, you take your pick of mentoring relationships: Quai-Gon Jinn to Obi Wan, Obi-Wan to Anakin, Obi-Wan to Luke, and Yoda to just about everyone.

In X-men Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, makes it his mission to help guide troubled mutant youth.

In the movie Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi mentors a bullied student and demonstrates there is more to Karate than fighting.

In the Gospels, Jesus mentors his twelve disciples so they could be light and love to others.

In the book of Ephesians, Timothy was a young leader of the church in Ephesus and his SGL, mentor, Paul reminds him “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in your purity” (1 Tim 4.13).

All of these mentors—fictional or historical—taught their mentees valuable life lessons. But they weren’t instructors. They didn’t simply lecture with chalkboards, expecting their students to take notes. They impressed these lessons on their students through hands on life lessons, through examples, and through living out the principles about which they spoke.

We have to remind our small group leaders that their  primary task is not to be an instructor but a mentor. Instructors teach. Mentors train. The difference between mentoring and teaching in the Christian life is that mentoring involves the mentee. It’s interactive. Students won’t necessarily remember all of the amazing large group teachings, but they will remember their small group leader’s hands on, practical application and genuine connection.

All youth leaders must model Jesus to our students. Jesus embodied the traits of God. So as leaders to the next generation Jesus is calling us to embody the traits of God as we mentor, train, witness and disciple today’s youth.

As youth leader—whether you are young or just young at heart—you are called to set an example in the way you live out your life. Mentoring is modeling the life Jesus lived. So don’t simply teach the lesson given to you on your curriculum. Let your goal be to mentor. Aim to be an extraordinary model for your few.

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