From the beginning of The Phantom Menace, it’s been apparent that Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are two individuals who approached Jedidom from different points of view. The novelization of Episode I points out that Obi-Wan was focused on the cosmic Force, while his Master was far more concerned with the living (or life) Force.
“All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” These words may not be spoken to Obi-Wan, but they most certainly speak to him. Surprisingly to many fans, Master and Apprentice tells us that Kenobi was actually a rebellious youth, until being paired with Qui-Gon, a rebel in his own right. So Kenobi’s rebellion came in the form of not rebelling. Nice reverse psychology there, Yoda.
Our mentors know us, and thus are able to see a perspective that we are bound to miss. This allows them to challenge us, even when we see it in as more of a frustration. Such was why Yoda lead Kenobi and Jinn together. Also, Qui-Gon kept Kenobi in the basic lightsaber form, Shii-Co, because he knew that Obi-Wan was one to try above his station, and thus wanted to insure he had a strong foundation. This later transfers over to Anakin, at least in practice. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin bemoans Obi-Wan for holding him back, yet he is doing so because he has learned the benefit of doing so from his own master. It is not holding back, but rather building toward future growth.
Another important quality in a teacher is the desire to be a student. In fact, this may be the most vital aspect of being a teacher. Yoda speaks to this multiple times, both in Clone Wars, where he learns from Qui-Gon and the Force priestesses, and in the Star Wars comic by Marvel. There is a level of humility that is required when being a teacher, which encourages the student to never stop the pursuit of learning. This is a major flaw of Luke in The Last Jedi. He stopped learning. Yoda, once again, brings it back into perspective in saying, “We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of all masters.”
Master and Apprentice is really, at its core, about this. Qui-Gon seems to be willing to learn from everyone but Obi-Wan, not out of malice but rather naivete. This creates a level of insecurity because it puts all the burden on the mentor, and that burden calls said mentor to be perfect. However, by the end of the novel, Qui-Gon has learned this lesson (one he will later help Yoda to relearn). As Qui-Gon explains to Obi-Wan why he has decided not to join the Council, he asks whether Obi-Wan would like to continue with him as master and apprentice. Obi-Wan replies, “You know,Master I’ve realized –– I wouldn’t learn nearly as much from someone who always agrees with me.” In a very Kenobi way, this is Obi-Wan both agreeing to stay as Jinn’s Padawan and also validating Qui-Gon’s new perspective on the Force, and how he shall continue to learn from it.
Does Obi-Wan do the same with Anakin, though? For the most part, it would seem not. Whereas Qui-Gon allowed Kenobi some “wiggle room” to be the person he was going to be, trusting the Force to guide him to whatever destination was required of him, Kenobi knows the end goal for Anakin, and in knowing that future prevents that future. Later, he makes the same mistake with Luke. He tries to steer the ship towards Luke killing his father, but Luke is able to find another way.
There is a progression, a family tree if you will, of the Jedi. Yoda trains Dooku, who trained Qui-Gon, who trains Kenobi, who trains Anakin and Luke. All grew off of one another, building on what their mentor taught them, and improving upon it. There is a bit of ebb and flow in this tree, but it all leads back to the same end. We thought, for many years, that to be Luke redeeming Vader, and Anakin bringing balance. But there is another. It would seem that Rey, who has a thousand generations of Jedi inside of her, is the one to sum up all the knowledge of this Jedi family tree, growing beyond all masters, yet always staying the apprentice. And finally, the destination that all Jedi strove toward, balance eternal, may finally find its place in the galaxy.