27 Sep Anatomy of Mentoring
A Mentor is a:
- Teacher: helping (a person) learn (how) to do something
- Trainer: developing a faculty by methodical discipline
- Trusted advisor: Counselling a course of action, Pro. 11:14; 2 Cor. 8:10-11; Admonishing for fault/ oversight, Eph. 6:4; Warning against possible danger / failure, Acts 20:29-31.
- Coach: offering skills-oriented training
- Role model: setting an example for others to follow (Phil 4:9) aiming at holistic and person-based development/growth.
John Wesley’s General Rules for Methodist Fellowships (Societies) released in 1743 included ‘Watch Over One Another In Love.’ This was the key to his success in retaining those who were converted through that revival. They cared for one another. In fact caring for and watching over one another (in love) is the essence of mentoring. A mere instructor is contrasted with a caring parent in 1 Cor 4:15.
“People don’t care how much you know- until they know how much you care.”
“A Christian mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, a heart to care, and a life to watch.”
“Mentors are better listeners – 75% listening and 25% talking.”
Let us look at 1 Cor 3:5-7:
v. 5 – Human mentors are God’s ministers/ servants and servants have nothing to boast (Luke 17:10). They are entrusted and enabled by Him. (1 Tim 1:12)
v. 6 – Without His input, even the combined labour of many mentors will be unfruitful (Ps 127:1)
v. 7 – But for God, human mentors amount to nothing.
Mentoring can be done in adverse circumstances and under limitations. The house-bound person may invite others to visit or mentor by phone/ e-mail etc. Paul in jail was mentoring Onesimus and others. Where there is a will there surely is a way. Paul had a passion for mentoring even those he had not yet met (Rom 1:9-13).
We may mentor others of our level/ below our level/even above our level. No one is beyond the scope of mentoring until he/she has grown into the stature of Christ (Matt 10:25a and Eph 4:13). Mutual mentoring can go on. The Bible presents us with many examples. Jesus was the Master Mentor – mentoring all sorts of people at any place and at any time; Nicodemus (Jn 3), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), the nameless woman of Samaria (Jn 4) and the twelve disciples (Mk 3:14).
Barnabas had mastered the art of encouragement which is absolutely necessary to effective mentoring. A great encourager may not be a great leader himself but may enable others to develop into leaders. Barnabas enabled Paul’s development as a leader. Even though Mark had failed once, Barnabas never gave up on him but patiently mentored him and
Mark went on to write the fourth Gospel, the Gospel according to Mark! Some people sit dejected because of failure of a programme or due to serious strains in their family relationships, etc. They are bypassed/overlooked/rejected and they suffer silently – hidden in the shadows of the success of others for want of a Barnabas.
Qualities of a good mentor: In order to succeed as a Mentor we must know ‘whose’ we are and what our strengths and skills are. We must be given to prayer and diligent study of the Word, be person-oriented, culturally neutral, unbiased, impartial, non-judgemental, and trustworthy. We must maintain confidentiality as required, and manifest worth-emulating behaviours, attitudes, values, mannerisms, etc. We must have a shepherd’s heart, be willing to make time for others, have a servant attitude to serve and help, and be patient with a long-range view.
In the context of UESI ministry there must be suitable mentoring between staff, graduates and students. Graduates must be adequately exposed to the Word and the World, especially the ‘Student world.’ Students need to be motivated and guided in their studies and through examinations and interviews. Their individual needs must be discerned and responded to. Biblical doctrines and
other spiritual disciplines must be taught in order to develop student initiative and student leadership. They must be helped to know the prevalent false cults and practices. Their talents must be identified and appreciated; opportunities must be provided to exercise them. Graduating students must be kept track of – they must be encouraged and counselled to take up responsibilities in the ministry after graduation.
Single graduates must be helped in finding suitable jobs, residences, and even life partners. Young couples struggling in family life can be suitably counselled by older couples. In our ministry we talk about ‘Lack of Follow-Up’ which is the same as ‘Absence of Mentoring.’
About the Author
G.S.P. Dhas hailing from TN, served the Govt of India, posted in different N I states, before retirement on superannuation in May, 2003. He has been associated with the UESI ministry from the mid-Sixties, and has held different leadership roles at Regional and national levels. He and his wife are settled in Odisha in order to continue cross-cultural Christian witness.