Mentoring: Biblical Mentoring and how to find a local mentor…
In Spiritual Mentoring, Keith Anderson and Randy Reese state, “Christian faith is an imitative faith. It always has been. Beginning with Jesus’ earliest words to the men and women who would become his apprentices of faith, Christianity has understood itself to be a faith taught by one to another. The life of Jesus must be seen and held as the unique model worthy of imitation for Christians…. The kind of teaching Jesus provided them was very different from the classroom instruction of the academy today. It assumed a relationship and style that made different demands on both rabbi and disciple, teacher and learner, mentor and protégé…. Spiritual formation, education of the heart, in other words, requires something more than traditional Western forms of instruction. It requires a mentorship of the heart, a relationship with a teacher of life who is able to convey what was learned from the teacher’s own faithful mentor, a way of life that is formed, not merely instructions that are given” (Spiritual Mentoring, pp.15-17).
The Apostle Paul understood the importance of mentoring. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul stated, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul was the recipient of mentoring from Barnabas. It was this mentorship that compelled Paul to mentor others as well. As a result, he mentored the likes of Timothy and Titus.
Of course, one could point to the fact that Jesus used a mentoring relationship to mold the 12 disciples. He spent three years pouring into the lives of his disciples. Jesus knew his disciples. He had a personal relationship with them and spent considerable time with them. Jesus fed his disciples. He devoted himself to the disciples’ character growth and not necessarily on their goal setting, strategic planning, or even disciple-making skills. Jesus led his disciples. He led them to relate to God and to be the type of men that God wanted them to be. Jesus protected his disciples. He did this by addressing weaknesses and sins, paying particular attention to their demonstration of humility. He rebuked them and reconciled with them when they failed (Gospel Coach, Scott Thomas and Tom Wood).
It’s clear that mentoring is the model set forth by Jesus and Paul and is what has been passed on to every believer. Yet, so many admit they have never had a mentor and/or do not mentor anyone themselves. This is a tragedy. As a result, a lot of believers miss out on the many benefits of Mentoring.
In Gospel Coach, Scott Thomas and Tom Wood discuss the many benefits of mentoring:
- Mentoring (coaching) helps remind a believer that every follower of Christ needs to be shepherded.
- Mentoring exposes the believer’s blind spots.
- Because everyone is capable of succumbing to sin’s deception, mentoring is preventative maintenance, a practical means for a believer to pay careful attention to one’s self.
- Mentoring models biblical community and discipleship.
- Mentoring provides a prayer partner for a believer.
- We all can be prideful, and mentoring helps us identify and fight arrogance.
- Leading can be lonely, and mentoring brings encouragement to a leader.
- Mentoring facilitates growth and equipping.
- Mentoring sharpens a believer’s calling.
- Mentoring is a means for intentional accountability and submission.
- Mentoring provides a safe sounding board and a means to obtain advice from a fellow believer.
- Mentoring is fun, and it encourages friendship and provides affirmation for a believer’s decisions.
- Mentoring enables personal sanctification.
- Mentoring protects family and marital health.
- Thomas and Wood (Gospel Coach) summarize 3 key benefits of mentoring:
- A mentor provides feedback, correction, and guidance for pending decisions.
- A mentor provides counsel, admonishment, and encouragement for challenges.
- A mentor provides steps of action and strategies for following God’s calling.
As seen from the list, the greatest benefit of mentoring and personal discipleship is that it takes the transformative message of the gospel and uses it to transform disciples so that, in turn, they will be used in the transformation of others.
So, why do you need a mentor? God designed the Christian faith to be shared. He desires for us to grow in faith together. Mentoring is a biblical model that helps in true life transformation.
How do you find a mentor? Seek, ask, and listen! Seek out a mentor who has a similar call in life. Look for that mentor who is walking in their faith and vocation in such a way that Christ is exemplified and exalted. Next, ask! Ask that person to spend time with you. Ask for that person to open up their life to you. Ask that person to pour into your life. Give that person permission to ask you the hard questions. Then, listen! A good mentoree listens to the counsel and wisdom of their mentor.
Anderson, Keith, and Randy Reese. Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Direction. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Thomas, Scott, and Tom Wood. Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.