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Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship Paperback – March 1, 2016
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Natasha has not only written a very fine book about mentoring, she actually serves as a mentor for us, her readers. This volume is an expert guide, a model, a voice to give us the courage to respond to Jesus’ call to make disciples. May each of us follow her lead, and in response, lead others in fruitful discipleship. -- Tracy Balzer, Director of Christian Formation, John Brown University; author, Permission to Ponder
With clear focus on Jesus’ priorities, Natasha leads us to love God, to love others, and to make disciples. She demonstrates that this kind of growth and maturity in the child of God happens best in a mentoring relationship. Foundational reasoning and practical teaching and examples make this a fabulous tool for any church or ministry desiring to build multiplying disciples. -- Judy Douglass, Global Leadership and Director, Women’s Resources, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ)
There is no higher calling upon an individual believer, or more accurate measure of his or her spiritual maturity, than the practice of reproducing Christlike faith in the life of another. In Mentor for Life, Natasha thinks deeply, writes passionately, and challenges practically with the goal of helping you pursue and fulfill the Great Commission one life at a time. -- Mark DeYmaz, Directional Leader, Mosaic Church of Central AR
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a truth-teller, and the truth is we need truth-tellers. In her book, Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship, you will encounter a fundamental truth: we all need mentors as we make our way through this messy complicated world. Read this book and be encouraged. -- Frank A. James III, President, Biblical Theological Seminary
The invitation that Jesus extended to the first who followed him is one that he continues to extend to us. It is an invitation to “intentional discipleship,” characterized by developing a life of being with him, being shaped and empowered by him, and being sent on mission for him. Natasha Robinson carefully sets forth a very powerful and practical way that this is done . . . it is a welcome gift for the whole Body of Christ. -- Bishop (Dr.) Claude Alexander Jr., Senior, Pastor, The Park Church, Charlotte, NC
Spiritual growth is something we do by ourselves and is between us and God.” That’s a very American thought, but it has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. Natasha Sistrunk Robinson explains clearly not only why Christians need to mentor and be mentored but how to best go about it. The information in Mentor for Life will revolutionize your spiritual life. -- Shane Blackshear, host of podcast Seminary Dropout, ShaneBlackshear.com
With passion and clarity, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson has presented a case for mentorship that conveys both the urgency of the mission and a vision for execution. Mentor for Life is written with the real world in mind and provides a framework that is relevant to real people. If you want to engender a stronger faith in yourself and others, Robinson has offered up a valuable resource. -- Richard Clark, Managing Editor, Leadership Journal, Christianity Today
Natasha has laid out a vision for mentoring that incorporates women of all generations, life circumstances, and cultures. The emphasis invites mutual, intentional relationships where everyone leaves knowing God, themselves, and one another better. The questions included throughout the book make this an excellent tool to use in a mentoring small group, especially for those looking to start mentoring groups in their church. -- Amy Jackson, Managing Editor, SmallGroups.com, Christianity Today
About the Author
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Weaving biblical references with real life examples, Robinson underscores the importance of mentoring as a primary focus for discipleship. She points to the difficulties of living in two kingdoms (earth's realm and our heavenly home) yet having allegiance to only one. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we gain the ability to serve as ambassadors for our true King as well as the fortitude to overcome the allures of today's culture and our sinful nature. Yet it is still a challenging journey. We need one another in our earthly travels.
The core message of the book centers on three principles: love God, know who you are in Christ, and love your neighbors. Robinson shows how these concepts are best developed in a mentoring community. She points to Jesus' mentoring within the context of a small group, not one-on-one relationships. The author focuses on "developing a healthy interdependency within a small mentoring community where women all focus on their true need for Christ and encourage one another to draw nearer to him" (p 79).
Robinson demonstrates how to effectively incorporate spiritual disciplines into the mentoring relationship but also cautions against over regimented guidance of the practices. She recognizes that people's spiritual walks vary greatly from one another. In community, however, we can encourage and equip one another.
Spiritual transformation emerges through commitment. We nourish our love for God by choosing to pray, study Scripture, and commit to his ways. "Mentor for Life" develops the discipleship model further by placing high value on discipline of the mind. The author reminds us that Scripture calls us to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, AND mind. Ultimately, then, our love for others is a direct result of our love for the Lord. It fuels our ability to sacrifice and care for others.
Robinson successfully sets out a course of actions that fulfills her vision to make disciples who "commit to God's kingdom mission of transforming the world" (p. 137). She gives tools, reading suggestions, and examples to create effective and intentional mentoring communities. Thought-provoking questions close each chapter to help the reader wrestle with the issues outlined in each chapter. "Mentor For Life" is a call to action. As the church leads into this new generation, let's heed the call and become more intentional about our disciplemaking!
In her book Mentor for Life, Natasha Robinson briefly defines “mentoring as intentional discipleship” (19). The long definition is:
“Mentoring is a trusted partnership where people share wisdom that fosters spiritual growth and leads to transformation as mentors and mentee’s grow in their love of Christ, knowledge of self, and love of others.”(31/137)
In her purpose statement, she writes:
“I want you to catch this vision…What would happened if all believers understood and embraced their identity in Christ, and truly lived as transformed people under the power of the Holy Spirit? What would happen if we all mentored for life? (18)
This book focuses on application. Robinson proposes that readers: evaluate their spiritual condition, consider their commitment, and prioritize discipling (21). Part 1 of the book focuses on the question: why mentor? While part 2 cites six aspects of commitment to mentoring as: being present, cultivating disciples, understanding God’s kingdom mission, welcoming diverse relationships, mentoring as sacrificial love, and committing to safe and trusting mentoring relationships (19-20).
Robinson’s application plays out immediately in each chapter in the form of study questions and suggested tweets. Chapter 1, for example, ends with 5 questions and a suggested tweet: “Mentoring is about intentionally investing in the priorities of God’s kingdom and in the lives of others, #Mentor4Life @asistasjourney” (39). Searching for #Mentor4Life in Twitter, one finds an active discussion and an encouraging report that Mentor for Life has made the top 100 list on Amazon.com—a huge milestone for any author.
In part 1, Robinson makes a highly personal case for mentoring. For example, she mentions that she lost her mother at age 20 as a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy (27). Later, she writes:
“After endless Sunday mornings in church, countless prayers, and multiple baptisms (I was both sprinkled and immersed), I still could not answer that awful question, ‘If I died today, would I go to heaven? ...no one in my first eighteen years of life had ever offered to intentially disciple me.” (41)
Much later she shares about her experiences as a track and field athlete (131-136). My suspicion is that Robinson—as a winning athlete and Naval cadet and an obvious leader among her peers—was indeed mentored—just not intentionally and not in the church. My suspicion is that her mom, Sallie, was her most important mentor (193-195).
In my own walk, I was un-intentially mentored by my pastor who found himself unexpectedly substituting as youth director. This new role ultimately meant about two years of pizza and discussions with my best friend and I on Wednesday afternoons. My pastor’s mentoring helped me to survive some tough years in college and to continue hearing God’s voice above the high-volume chatter of our broken culture.
In part 2, Robinson makes an important point about discipling:
“…making disciples is not a spiritual gift. It is not something unique that only certain people are called to do. All Christians are called to this important kingdom work.” (219)
The character of a mentor requires generosity, grace, and love (221). Spiritual gifting is about passion and performance (223).
Natasha Robinson founded a nonprofit corporation, Leadership LINKS, Inc. and blogs at: A Sista’s Journey. She graduated from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) in Charlotte NC with a master’s degree in Christian leadership. Before that, she attended the U.S. Naval Academy majoring in English. She is also a member of the RedBud Writers’ Guild and the International Justice Mission. I know Natasha as a colleague in GCTS’s Pierce Fellowship which focuses on spiritual formation and discipling issues.
Natasha Robinson’s book, Mentor for Life, is a book that the church needs to take seriously. Women will relate to her experience in women’s ministry; men will connect to her athletic and military stories and metaphors; small groups may enjoy it as study. Robinson’s writing is lively and accessible.