This post, by my friend Jim Martin, Vice President at Harding School of Theology, puts into print a dimension of Jim’s ministry at Crestview Church of Christ in Waco for which he was well-known.
You Can Be Used To Mentor
“Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources” (J. Robert Clinton).
Mentoring is a “relational experience.” Spiritual mentoring is not about downloading information into another person. Nor is it getting something off your chest. Rather, it is about empowering someone and leaving him or her in a better place because of this relationship.
The relationship may allow us to come alongside and help another process possible responses to a particular problem.
The relationship might also help another get unstuck. We can ask questions that could cause a person to think. “What kind of woman/man would you like to be in ten years? What would need to change for you to become this kind of person?”
God can use us to mentor others so that their maturing and growth as disciples are enhanced.
A few suggestions for anyone who might mentor another:
- Be fully present. Mentoring is more than dispensing information or trying to get others to do what I want. Mentoring is a willingness to make one vulnerable and step into another’s life.
- Mentoring is more of a two-way, genuine conversation in which the mentor offers probing questions, a listening ear and his or her perspective on the concern.
- In a culture where we are prone to distraction, a mentor can offer someone their full attention. This kind of listening goes beyond hearing words and then waiting to state an opinion. Rather, one pays attention to that person’s thoughts and emotions. A mentor deeply desires to give another the gift of undivided attention. This gift can be a rare experience for some in a culture of distraction where everyone, even in conversation, seems to be checking their phone.
- Assist a person in forming or becoming aware of that person’s purpose for living. Mentoring is the process of helping another discover purpose and mission.
In Mentor Like Jesus (pp. 62-63), Regi Campbell says that he asks everyone in his mentoring group to write their obituary. This obituary becomes sort of vision statement, a way to look inside the head of the candidate and see what he sees for himself and his family in the future.
Prepare yourself to mentor by cultivating your heart, the place where wisdom and character are formed. You prepare yourself by being attentive to your own soul. After all, spiritual mentoring is not a technique nor is it a tool. Rather, this is a way we can serve and bless another by entering into that person’s life. We do this by being fully present in Christ with another.
Mentoring involves guiding (helping another know what to do), challenging (perhaps raising a questions regarding one’s behavior or decisions), encouraging (“You can do this”) and affirming (speaking praise when one see’s another doing something right).
Mentoring can be messy. Sometimes it will take place at specific times and places. With other people, it will be more sporadic and occasional. One size does not fit all. You may have one person who looks to you as a mentor – who occasionally meets with you at critical moments. You may have another person who needs a relationship with more structure.
You can be used to mentor another. Are you willing?
Harding School of Theology