<<advisor, guide>>

Mentoring is when a more experienced and knowledgeable person intentionally helps guide a less experienced or knowledgeable person, often in a one-on-one relationship, for their long-term development through motivation, inspiration, encouragement and practical advice. A mentor is a trusted, confidential advisor who takes a special interest in helping another person develop their potential. They often work in a similar context to the person they are mentoring, and can be viewed as passing on to another generation the life lessons they have learned. It is about sowing seeds and passing on knowledge and experience gained, by having ‘been there and done that’ (Eccl 12:9; Jn 12:24). As Joshua was the assistant to Moses from his youth, no wonder he was a good leader when his time arrived (Num 11:28). Elijah was a mentor, preparing Elisha his attendant, for future ministry (1 Kgs 19:21).

With any mentoring there will be times to confront and challenge but mostly it is to guide and encourage with a holistic approach of teaching and equipping. Part of the process is the ongoing evaluation of past attempts to enable effective future actions. Mentoring should not be supplying another with all the solutions nor micro-managing their lives as

Out of my life experiences what can I invest in others?

this creates dependency and stifles individual growth. It is living the message. Paul repeatedly said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ...Pass on what you have heard me say" (1 Cor 11:1; Phil 4:9; 2 Thes 3:7; 2 Tim 2:2). The key to mentoring is 'do as I do, not do as I say'.

Mentoring can be utilized in a variety of contexts and advise on a wide range of issues – occupational and spiritual. Discipling, tutoring, spiritual direction, accountability partners, internships and apprenticeships all involve elements of mentoring. Coaching is specifically task orientated while mentoring also embraces people skills and attitudes.

A parent’s greatest responsibility is to mentor or disciple the young lives they have brought into the world, sowing into their lives so there is a good harvest to reap. This requires patience and long-term commitment. Similarly spiritual direction provides challenges and stimulates progress, aware so much more is possible both in relationship with God and in ministry. Like Paul, Timothy and Peter, experienced senior pastors can contribute to the development of younger staff through mentoring practices (2 Tim 1:13, 3:14; 1 Pet 5:3).

Jesus modeled what He wanted the disciples to learn, then reviewed with them their successes and failures (Lk 9:1-10, 10:1-20). Later He told them to, “Go and make disciples…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”, and also instructed Peter to, “Strengthen your brothers” (Mt 28:19,20; Lk 22:32). We are to be replicas of Christ, "walking as He walked" and in turn repeat the process in others (1 Thes 2:11,12; 1 Jn 2:6). Remember Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24). He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for others (1 Jn 3:16).

Although it is beneficial to have a human mentor who can provide hands-on input together with accountability, teaching and training, ultimate allegiance must always be obedience to, and reliance on the heavenly shepherd, our supreme mentor (Jn 10:27).

See also: accountability, comfort zone, disciple/discipleship, example, leaders/leadership, spiritual direction, teach/teaching, training.