Understanding Discipling and Mentoring Through an Exegetical Analysis of Exodus 18:13–23 and Judges 2:6–17

In 1982, the Johnson & Johnson company faced a tremendous crisis when seven people in Chicago died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol. Although it was determined that cyanide had been placed in the products after they reached the shelves—an act conducted by an outside party— Johnson & Johnson took full responsibility for the incident; to ensure public safety, they pulled all products off the market. McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, conducted an immediate product recall from the entire country, which amounted to approximately 31 million bottles and a loss of more than $100 million U.S. dollars.

According to the company, their timely reaction was a result of the organization’s credo. The credo, written by founder Robert Wood Johnson, begins, “We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services” (Johnson & Johnson, 2020, n.d., n.p.). By establishing and passing down a culture of protecting people first and property second, Johnson, through posterity, serves as a model for the importance of discipling in contemporary organizations. As demonstrated by Johnson, discipling does not have to occur only through face-to-face encounters but may be passed through various other mediums of communication, including a mission statement or credo (Winston, 2007). Although Johnson died in 1910, his credo and values-based culture continue to guide the organization today.

Leadership literature often focuses on the importance of mentoring. Research on discipling has primarily focused on discipleship in religious contexts (e.g., Boldeau, 2014; Cunningham, 1998; Freeks & Lotter, 2014; Leeder & Cushion, 2019). However, there may be value in further examination and application of the discipling construct within secular institutions. The purpose of this article is to examine mentoring and discipling through the lens of biblical cultural anthropology and examine how discipling can strengthen organizational culture. Specifically, this paper discusses discipling and mentoring through an exegetical analysis of Exodus 18:13–23 and Judges 2:6–17. These two texts were selected because of the dichotomous conditions portrayed in each narrative.

Defining Mentoring and Discipling

Bell and Goldsmith (2013) assert that mentoring is about surrendering to the process rather than controlling it. In other words, mentoring involves “providing the gift of advice, and helping the protégé to become a self-directed learner” (Bell & Goldsmith, 2013, p. xxi). Cunningham (1998) defines mentoring as “an interaction between two people in which one person is guided, taught, and influenced in his or her profession by another member of the profession” (p. 35). We often think of mentorship as a dyadic process; however, since the 1990s, academic researchers have also focused on group mentoring processes, such as managers mentoring team members and departments (Huizing, 2012). Group mentoring is an intentionally inclusive experience (Kroll, 2016); those who have traditionally been barred from participating in mentoring experiences are purposefully included.

In contrast, discipleship “is the ongoing process of growth as a disciple,” whereas “discipling implies the responsibility of disciples helping one another to grow as disciples” (Cunningham, 1998, p. 36). Winston (2007) distinguishes between discipling and mentoring, noting that in mentoring relationships, leaders want followers to become “all they can be;” in discipling, leaders want followers to become more like the leader. Discipleship requires being prepared to learn, letting go of preconceived ideas, being prepared to change, and responding to the call (Gravitt, 2018). A disciple follows another person or another way of life, submits to the discipline of that leader, and adopts the leader’s philosophy, practices, and way of life (Cunningham, 1998). Mayhew (2017) argues that discipling starts at the core of someone, specifically their world view, which consequently influences the outer workings of culture.

Although mentoring’s importance is often discussed in the leadership literature, research on discipleship’s role in building and maintaining organizational culture is scarce. Organizational culture is a pattern of shared, basic assumptions that are taught to new members as the correct ways to perceive, think, and feel in relation to organizational problems (Schien, 2016). Several researchers have examined the relation between mentoring and organizational culture, incorporating various antecedents and organizational outcome variables into empirical models of mentoring and organizational culture; these include mentoring top leadership (Moore & Wang, 2017), organizational politics and gender (Gibson, 2006), minority representation and mentoring (Kay & Gorman, 2012), perceived organizational support (Hu, Wang, Yang, & Wu, 2014), psychology safety (Chen, Liao, & Wen, 2014), and organizational commitment (Woo, 2017).

Discipleship stems from a model of mentorship (Boldeau, 2014), and there are similarities between discipling and mentoring, such as the importance of intense, focused relationships. However, there are also differences between the two constructs. Although both types of relationships are characterized by mutuality and reciprocity, the primary goal of mentoring is to nurture, whereas the primary goal of discipling is to nurture and reproduce. Leeder and Cushion (2019) report that mentors strive to inculcate mentees and rework habits to align with the culture. Through pedagogic action, a reproduction of ideologies may occur; however, the focus is on the present and on meeting short-term organizational objectives. In contrast, the focus of discipleship is on passing down cultural norms and reproducing; the focus is on the future and long-term impact. Mentorship often occurs in the organizational acculturation phase or during the onboarding period. Stegeman (2010) argued that mentorship is largely about initiation. Discipleship goes a step further, including mentorship as a key component of the model but also involving sustained intrinsic purpose.

Another primary difference between mentoring and discipling stems from the communication strategies utilized in implementation. For instance, in the practice of discipleship, communicators often choose a directing approach (Oates, 2019). Either the individual is directed or the process involves discipling to direct a new believer. In contrast, rather than utilizing a directing communication style, mentorship involves more listening. The mentor often avoids telling the mentee exactly what to do. Mentorship and discipleship both involve instruction; however, “discipleship involves a call, a direct invitation from the teacher, which borders on a command” (Stegeman, 2010, para. 1).

Although leadership studies have often focused on the importance of mentoring, discipling may also be vital in establishing and maintaining organizational culture. Furthermore, researchers have often reserved the terms “disciple,” “discipling,” and “discipleship” for religious or spiritual contexts without acknowledging the potential impact of discipling in both secular and non-secular institutions. Exodus 18 and Judges 2 provide further insight into the distinction between mentoring and discipling. Exodus 18 demonstrates the benefits of mentoring and discipling, while Judges 2 illustrates the dangers of neglecting these behaviors.

Origins of Discipling and Mentoring

The Greek conceptualization of disciple (i.e., mathytys, μαθητής) does not appear in the Septuagint; however, there is still vast evidence that the concept and practice of discipling existed in the Semitic/Hebrew culture (Herrick, 2009, p. 1). Herrick (2009) writes, “Several traditions within the national life of Israel make it reasonable to assume that the concept and practice of personal discipleship existed” (p. 1). For example, the Hebrew equivalent of disciple is talmid, meaning student, which is only found in the Old Testament one time (i.e., 1 Chron. 25:8) (Nel, 2009). In the Old Testament, God’s people had the collective responsibility of teaching and instructing. Nel (2009) writes, “Such communal following . . . is seen as the most important reason why the noun (mathytys) is not used in the Old Testament” (p. 108). Nel suggests that the use of the noun would emphasize an individual relationship between master and student, which contradicts the tenet of the Old Testament. Rengstorf (1967) agrees that “such a focus on self would . . . have separated the individual from the other members of the chosen people” (p. 412).

Alternatively, Isaiah 8:16 and 50:4 suggest that Isaiah organized a group of disciples (Herrick, 2009). Although Isaiah did not have a formal school (i.e., as did Elisha, see 1 Kings 20:35), these passages suggest that he gathered an inner circle of men onto which he could pass his knowledge and wisdom. Isaiah 50:4 states, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with the word” (NRSV). In a like manner, other Hebrew traditions, including the school of the prophets (1 Sam. 19:20–24), the wisdom tradition (Prov. 1–9), and the instructions for personal discipleship in the home (Deut. 6) indicate the importance of discipling in the Hebrew culture (Herrick, 2009). Perhaps Deuteronomy 6 best describes the meaning of discipling in the contemporary context, stating that discipling is accomplished through modeling, imitating, nurturing, and the sharing of personal lives (Cunningham,1998).


Some biblical scholars have dated the events of Exodus as early as 1580 B.C., while others have dated them as late as 1230 B.C. However, Geisler (2007) suggests that the events occurred between 1445 and 1405 B.C. Geisler’s dates are substantiated by 1 Kings 6:1, which states that the Exodus took place 480 years before Solomon started building the temple (approximately 960 B.C.). The Israelite’s location in Exodus can be divided into three stages: (a) the Israelites as slaves in Egypt (Exodus 1–14), (b) the Israelites’ journey from Egypt into the wilderness of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 15–18), and (c) the Israelites campsite at Mt. Sinai, where they were given the law through Moses (Exodus 19–40). The events of Exodus 18:13–23 occurred in the Sinai wilderness. After fleeing Egypt, rather than taking a direct route from Egypt to Canaan, the Israelites journeyed southeast from the wilderness of modern Ismailia to the southern extremities of the Sinai Peninsula (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2016).

Under Egyptian rule, the Hebrew people had been condemned to a life of hard labor, void of governmental training or formal education. Moses’s commission was twofold: liberate the formerly enslaved people and mold them into a nation. Entering Canaan meant facing individuals who were skilled in the use of arms and military strategy—skills that the Israelites did not possess. Therefore, the time in the desert was utilized as preparatory training for the conquest of the Promised Land.

Following the leadership of Moses, the Israelites wandered as semi nomads in the wilderness for 40 years, settling down for a few years before moving on. When the Israelites arrived at Sinai, they were heirs to the rich and fertile region of the Nile Delta—an area with four centuries of agricultural and pastoral experience (Harrison, 2004).

Israelite Culture

During the 40-year period in the wilderness, Moses “discipled” the Israelites regarding the importance of the law and the belief in one God, YHWH (Rossel, 2008). As a result, the Hebrew tribes unified into a single nation: Israel. The well-being of the group surpassed individual goals and agendas; they possessed a collectivist orientation. Hofstede (2001) notes, “Collectivism stands for a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into socially strong, cohesive in-groups which through people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty” (p. 225). In individualistic cultures, success is often measured by one’s ability to surpass the group, while in collectivist cultures, success is measured by the contributions and achievements of the group as a whole (Devito, 2019). The early Israelites, living in tribal, nomadic societal structures, provide an example of a collectivist cultural orientation.

According to Triandis (2018), vertical relationships (relationships that move up the organizational hierarchy, such as subordinate-supervisor or follower-leader relationships) are valued and maximized in collectivist cultures. Triandis (2018) also suggests that the value placed on mentoring in collectivist cultures stems from the view of parent-child relationships where parents provide guidance and direction to children. In contrast, in individualist cultures, mentors may be viewed as fostering dependency or showing favoritism to protégés. When applied to the organizational context, mentoring and discipling may be perceived as more valuable in collectivist cultures than in individualist cultures. Although studies on cultural orientation and mentoring exist (e.g., Feldman & Balino, 1999; Yeh, Ching, Okubo, & Luthar, 2007; Gentry, Weber, & Sadri, 2008; Chen, Liao, & Wen, 2014; Chan, Yeh, & Krumboltz, 2015), studies on perceptions of discipling in collectivist and individualist cultures are nonexistent. However, Exodus 18 provides an example of mentoring and discipling in an early collectivist society.

Mentoring and Discipling Demonstrated by Moses in Exodus 18:13–24

In discussing Moses’s leadership, Mead (1955) writes,

Whatever great and heroic qualities we may ascribe to Moses, not any of them nor all of them together, can account for the brilliant achievement of taking a horde of slaves and molding them into a people with such a genius for religion that they became conscious of being the Chosen People— the Royal line into which eventually the Son of God was born. (p. 180)

Exodus 18 illustrates the overwhelming task of leading a nation of approximately one million (Exod. 12:37). Exodus 18:13 states, “The next day Moses sat as a judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening” (NRSV). Moses served as an intercessor, deciding between parties and informing the Israelites of God’s laws and decrees (Exod. 18:15–16). Moses’s leadership purpose was twofold. First, he had an opportunity to mentor the Israelite people by offering guidance and support. Second, he discipled the people by teaching God’s word and communicating God’s will.

Moses worked to empower the Israelite people; however, he also served as a disciple. Mullen (1999) suggests that in discipleship “the intent is to develop a relationship where trust, confidentiality, and accountability are established and one’s relationship with God is deepened” (p. 96). Rice (2005) adds, “Discipleship is the transition of relying on something bigger than you” (p. 1). The focus of discipleship is often spiritual formation. In the case of Exodus, Moses served as a disciple or apprentice to God, but perhaps more importantly, he served as a discipler by sharing God’s word and will with future generations. (John 9:28 supports the existence of disciples who followed the traditions of Moses.)

Winston (2002) argues that discipling is a holistic approach to mentoring and lists attitudes related to discipling; these include (a) humility, (b) compassion, (c) controlled discipline, (d) mercy, (e) integrity, (f) focused purpose, and (g) peacemaking. Moses clearly demonstrated these attributes throughout the book of Exodus. Ryken (2005) notes that Moses’s motives were sincere, and he worked diligently to fulfill the requirements of his calling. However, as viewed by Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, he took on too many burdens to bear alone.

Jethro as Mentor

Ragins (1995) writes, “If collectivist cultures value mentoring as a strength and individualist cultures view it as a weakness, power transmittal in mentoring relationships should be more likely to occur in collectivist than individualist cultures” (p. 110). We see evidence of Ragins’s assertion in Moses’s reaction to Jethro’s advice in Exodus 18:24. Exodus 18 stresses the relationship between Moses and Jethro more than any other chapter in Exodus (Hays, 2000). In fact, Jethro is identified as Moses’s hoten (wife’s father; that is, Moses’s father-in-law) 13 times in this chapter (Hays, 2000).

Hays (2000) points out that the purpose for using the term hoten is “not to stress who Jethro is, but rather to stress who Moses is and what his relationship is with these Midianites” (p. 1). Ultimately, despite cultural and religious differences, Moses has a close relationship with Jethro, the Midianite priest, and this relationship is seen in their interactions in Exodus 18.

Prior to the events of Exodus 18, Jethro had only seen Moses tend to sheep, but now, Moses is the leader of a nation. Rather than being impressed by Moses’s leadership, Jethro recognized that retaining all power would be destructive for both Moses and his followers (Exod. 18:17–18). In the ancient world, men came to God’s appointed leaders to inquire about various issues, including legal matters and questions of faith. The early Israelites believed that God spoke through appointed leaders such as Moses. However, Jethro realized that serving in this judicial capacity was keeping Moses from providing the leadership and discipleship that Israel needed.

In Exodus 18:19, we see Jethro assume the role of mentor to Moses, stating, “Now listen to me. I will give you counsel” (NRSV). By questioning Moses’s organizational structure, Jethro helped Moses to move toward a new form of government. According to Ryken (2005), this new form of government was “the spiritual rule of God’s people by a representative of Godly men, whom the Israelites called elders” (p. 483). Jethro’s proposed government was partially a judicial system, or a way of deciding legal cases, with Moses serving as chief justice (Ryken, 2005). Ultimately, this new government would parallel a democracy (see Deut. 1:9–13).

Jethro specifically acknowledged the importance of God in this decision and stated that the new government should only be established if “God so commands you” (Exod. 18:23). By doing this, Jethro demonstrated the importance of humility in mentoring and discipling. According to Jethro, Moses’s job description would continue to include discipling through maintaining culture and by preparing leaders to work with future generations (Rice, 2005). In Exodus 18:20, Jethro states, “teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do” (NRSV). In the new organizational structure, Moses was responsible for intercession, teaching and relaying the words of God, and modeling and guiding appropriate behavior of God’s people.

Although Jethro encouraged Moses to continue to disciple, Jethro also prompted Moses to relinquish power and select peer mentors (i.e., elders) (Exod. 18:21). Bell and Goldsmith (2013) note that many organizations provide mentoring opportunities in order to (a) provide different perspectives, (b) decrease inter-unit conflict, (c) increase employee scope of knowledge, and (d) increase protégé support base. The elders mentioned in Exodus 18 served in this capacity. Jethro provided a specific job description for these mentors by stating, “You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens” (Exod. 18:21, NRSV).

After accepting this new form of government (Exod. 18:24), Moses continued to serve as mentor to the elders, as well as disciple to the nation of Israel. Furthermore, through Jethro’s guidance, the leadership changed from a top-down approach to a shared leadership approach. Shared leadership is defined “as moving away from the leader/follower binary; capitalizing on the importance of leaders throughout the organization and creating an infrastructure so that organizations can benefit from the leadership of multiple people” (Kezar & Holcombe, 2017, p. 2). The central premise of shared leadership is that two or more people share power and join forces to move toward accomplishment of a shared goal (Moxley, 2000).

Through shared leadership processes, organizations can develop a community of leaders by openly articulating goals, relinquishing decision-making authority to followers, and involving followers before decisions are made (Barth, 1990). Pearce and Conger (2003) note, “We might see—and even need to see—figure heads at the top. But models of shared leadership recognize that these visible ‘heroes’ are supported by a network of leadership practices distributed throughout the organization” (p. 22). Ultimately, through Jethro’s guidance, Moses established self- managing teams constructed through shared-leadership processes.

The societal structure and collectivist orientation of the Israelites in Exodus 18 influenced the use of shared leadership. The cultural dimensions of individualism and collectivism are relevant to the emergence and successful global implementation of shared leadership (Carson, 2005).

Furthermore, preferences for shared leadership may be stronger for members of collectivist cultures than for members of individualist cultures (Carson, 2005). Shared leadership provided the early Israelites, as members of a collectivist, tribal society, with an avenue for peer-to-peer influence, along with increased opportunities for mentoring and discipling. Mentoring was important for uplifting and empowering the Israelite supplicants, but discipling was essential for establishing a nation focused on God.


Beginning with the death of Joshua and ending with the rise of Samuel, the period of Judges encompassed the time between the settlement in the land of Canaan and the organization of the monarchy (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2016). Although the exact dates are debated by biblical scholars, MacDonald (1995) suggests that the period of Judges most likely occurred between 1050 and 1000 B.C. There are several similarities between the construction of the book of Judges and the book of Joshua (e.g., Judg. 2:6–3:6; Josh. 23–24) (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2016). However, the book of Joshua emphasizes Israel’s faithfulness to YHWH during Joshua’s lifetime, whereas the book of Judges focuses on the abandonment of YHWH by the generations after Joshua’s death (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2016).

After Joshua’s death, the Hebrews did not have a strong central government but were a confederacy of the 12 individual tribes (Haley, 2014). Furthermore, during the period of Judges, the government was a theocracy, meaning that God, Himself, was the Director or Ruler of the nation. However, as indicated in Judges 2, without a regent, the Israelites failed to follow the rules and commands of God. Throughout the book of Judges, the Israelites repeated the cycle of sin, chastisement, distress, prayer, and deliverance over and over again (Judg. 2:1–3:6).

By the time we get to Judges 21:25, we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (NRSV). This verse embodies the Israelite’s individualist orientation during the period of Judges. “When Joshua was Israel’s leader, all the tribes worked together in obeying the will of God” (Wiersbe, 1994, pp. 11–12). In contrast, in the book of Judges, the Israelites did not work together as a unit. Judges 2:6 notes, “When Joshua dismissed the people, the Israelites all went to their own inheritances to take possession of the land” (NRSV).

“Individualism stands for a society in which the ties between individuals are loose: Everyone is expected to look after himself/herself and her/ his immediate family only” (Hofstede, 2001, p. 225).

In the book of Judges, the Israelites were living in semi-agrarian city-states and are an example of an individualist cultural orientation. The members were responsible to their own conscience, and responsibility was largely an individual matter (Devito, 2019). In addition to conflict with their enemies, the Israelites often quarreled with members of other—or their own—tribes (Unger, 2002).

During this period, judges were not self-appointed or elected leaders but instead were appointed by YHWH to deliver the people from an oppressor (Judg. 2:16–18). The English word “judge” fails to encompass the breadth of the original Hebrew word shophet, which means judge, justify, or deliver (West, 1980). West writes,

Shophet, as the title is used in the Old Testament, is not in the first instance an arbitrator of legal disputes, though he (or she) might serve in that capacity (Judg. 4:4–5). He is, rather, one who defends the right or just cause, whether in the capacity of a judicial official who hears cases and renders judgments or as a military leader who throws off the oppressor of a victimized people. (p. 178)

The job description of the judges was like that of the elected leaders in the judicial system established by Moses (Exod.18:21; Deut. 1:9). Ultimately, the more primitive judicial system used in the Sinai wilderness was adapted to the needs of the Israelites after their settlement in Canaan (Harrison, 2004).

Leadership Void of Mentoring and Discipling

A close examination of Judges 2:6–17 reveals four major problems with the leadership of that time: (a) after Joshua’s death, a leader did not take over as disciple to the tribes of Israel; (b) there was a failure to develop and maintain mentoring relationships; (c) the Israelites failed to utilize shared leadership, resulting in self-reliance; and (d) the judges failed to utilize transformational leadership behaviors, resulting in the absence of mentoring and discipling.

With Moses’s strong discipleship, the Israelites had remained focused on God. However, without the discipleship of Moses and Joshua, the Israelites turned to idols. While living in Canaan, the Israelites did not know God in a vital way. Additionally, after the death of Joshua, parents failed to utilize personal discipleship in the home, as depicted in Deuteronomy 6. “People cannot thrive on the spiritual power of their parents; each generation must personally experience the reality of God” (Gaebelein, 1992, p. 394). In this oral culture, God’s laws and commandments had been passed down from one generation to the next through oral and written communication. However, we read in Judges 2:10, “Moreover, that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel” (NRSV). In contemporary terms, the organizational culture had not been passed from one generation to the next; the “brand” of the Israelite nation had not been maintained.

If the Israelites had remembered Joshua, they would have recalled the farewell speeches he recited to the leaders of Israel (Joshua 23–24; Wiersbe, 1994). Furthermore, if they had remembered Joshua’s speeches, they would have understood the Law of Moses. “For in his final messages, Joshua emphasized the covenant God had made with Israel and the responsibility Israel had to keep it” (Wiersbe, 1994, p. 19). Although the Lord had kept His covenant with the Israelites (e.g., Josh. 23:5), they had not honored their covenant with Him. YHWH had commanded them to destroy the Canaanite religious system (i.e., idols, altars, temples, etc.), but the Israelites disobeyed the Lord. As a result of not obeying their covenant with God, the Israelite people were tempted by the Canaanite lifestyle. Here we see that when individuals forget God’s word, they are more likely to neglect His will. Furthermore, when organizational members forget the credo or mission of the company, they are more likely to model behavior that contradicts the organizational culture.

Although the Israelite people had abandoned God (Judg. 2:12), God remained faithful to them by appointing judges (Judg. 2:16). The appointment of judges was God’s way of sending disciplers and mentors. “The judges were the agents through whom the Lord manifested His unchanging love toward His erring people” (Unger, 2002, p. 316).

Willis (1997) suggests that the judges were charismatic leaders. In many contexts, charismatic leaders may be capable of evoking this willingness to disciple from followers. However, charismatic leadership often focuses on the persona of the leader rather than the growth of followers. During this societal and cultural transition, the Israelites needed restructuring and reorganizing of the organization. In this context, transformational leadership behaviors (i.e., individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, idealized influence, and inspirational motivation) may have been more appropriate than charismatic leadership. In charismatic leadership the focus is on the leader, whereas in transformational leadership the focus is on improving and evolving all team members to fulfill a common vision (Yukl, 2020). Although the charismatic qualities of the judges may indicate that God intended for them to serve in a discipling role, Ragins (1995) argues that in individualist cultures, the focus on individual attainment may discredit and discourage cooperative and helping relationships. As a result of societal structure and cultural orientation, the Israelites, as a whole, ignored the guidance of God’s appointed mentors and disciplers.

Because the judges only led for a certain period, transformational behaviors could have helped empower the Israelites, making them less dependent on the leader (Yukl, 2020). Soskik, Godshalk, and Yammarino (2004) further explain:

Both mentors and transformational leaders act as role models who encourage development, and work to develop others’ self-confidence, personal identity, and well-being. Thus, transformational leaders likely serve as mentors, and mentors likely exhibit various degrees of transformational leadership behavior. (p. 245)

The primary goal of mentoring is to nurture, whereas the primary goal of discipling is to nurture and reproduce (Cunningham, 1998). Clearly, the Israelites needed mentorship, but discipleship was also crucial for establishing and maintaining organizational culture. The absence of mentoring and discipling prevented the Israelites from growing closer to God. Furthermore, lack of discipling may have resulted in the Israelites forgetting their credo or covenant with God.


In distinguishing between mentoring and discipling, Gravitt (2018) argues that discipling differs from mentoring in three major ways: (a) discipling must be holistic (i.e., impact all aspects of life, including thoughts, words, actions, etc.); (b) the disciple must serve as a model; and (c) discipling is generational (i.e., the disciple-making relationships should be measured on whether the disciples go on to disciple others).

Although the importance of mentoring is often discussed in the leadership literature, researchers have often failed to acknowledge the importance of discipling in establishing and maintaining organizational culture, especially within secular organizations. Exodus 18 demonstrates the benefits of mentoring and discipling, whereas Judges 2 illustrates the danger of neglecting these behaviors. As demonstrated by the leadership of Robert Wood Johnson, contemporary organizations should utilize mentoring to empower followers; however, discipling must be implemented to sustain organizational culture.

Joy Jones-Carmack is an assistant professor of business studies-management at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey. She holds a PhD in organizational leadership from Regent University. Please direct questions regarding this study to joy.jones@stockton.edu.


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