Is Mentorship The Same As Discipleship?

***This is the last explanation you will ever need***

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
Lao Tzu

According to a National Geographic News article, Fishing, the activity of trying to catch fish, is an ancient practice that dates back to at least the beginning of Paleolithic period about 40,000 years ago. This activity is still being practised today because fish consumption meets the nutritional needs of many people thereby making the demand for fish to persist. Learning the art of fishing is desirable because it develops a person and transforms him from an ordinary fish consumer to a skilful fish harvester who can provide for himself and others, thereby earning a living from it.

Learning to fish like every other form of learning begins with the observation of a master teacher, adhering to rules and regulations and then, hands-on practice with the teacher. This recipe for transformation through learning is the same for discipleship and mentorship, both vital processes for human capital development. There are several definitions for both discipleship and mentoring but central to both is the common goal of human capital development. Discipleship achieves this common goal through the impartation of a life moulding philosophy and indoctrination into its way of life while mentoring achieves this through the impartation of life moulding experiences by an already transformed and developed person to an inexperienced person who desires to achieve the same feat. Discipleship and mentoring accelerates the human capital development process and equips the beneficiary with a skill that can be used to serve others. Since the potential for human capital development is unlimited, discipleship and mentoring can also help in the upgrading of an already acquired skill and bringing of new perspectives and empowerment for a higher purpose as exemplified in the proposition of Jesus to Peter and his brother Andrew, both professional fishermen-“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Though Discipleship is basic and covers different areas of life because it is philosophy driven while mentorship is specialized because it involves leveraging on specific valuable experience, both are built on learning within a relationship framework and functions like two edges of the same sword.

There is a ‘fish’ that every man needs, getting it as handout will leave us as perpetual dependents, learning to get it for ourselves and even owning our own fish ponds gives us the opportunity to get it and give to others. Discipleship and mentorship is God’s idea for the advancement of mankind and that is why Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to make disciple of all the nations (Mathew 28:18-20).

To make our contribution to the advancement of mankind, we have to be intentional in mentoring those who need our wealth of experience. We need to actively seek and be open to such people as our paths meet in the journey of life.

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