What is a good mentor?
by RuthAnn Raycroft
Mentoring . . . is a dynamic relationship of trust in which one person enables another to maximize the grace of God in his/her life and service. It has a sound biblical and theological basis with Jesus as the ultimate model, retaining all that is consistent with his life and teaching. ~ from Mentoring to Develop Disciples and Leaders by John Mallison
Norma Becker, who, with her husband, Ed, sits on the board of directors of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada, was quite surprised the first time she was asked to be a mentor. She had never considered the idea before. Yet when the younger woman who asked her suggested they might pray about it, Norma responded with assurance: "We don’t pray about commands." In the book of Titus, Paul commends younger women to the instruction of their elders: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5 It is not a question or a suggestion. It is God’s design–each generation should guide the next. For women, this connection is particularly important. Women quite naturally share with each other on a deeply personal level. When we need wisdom — when tough decisions come fast and furious and we don’t know what to do nex t– we all long for someone to turn to. God has provided the framework for that relationship. Paul’s admonitions in Titus 2 for women (and for men and servants) reflect Christ’s own relationship with His apostles. Christ was confidante, leader and teacher as well as Lord. He was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). Everything that His friends experienced or would ever experience was familiar to Him. He could give them the words of wisdom needed to take hold of a truth, claim a promise or stand firm in the face of persecution. He loved them, encouraged them and challenged them to dig deeper into their faith than they had ever imagined. A mentor is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as an "experienced and trusted advisor." There are three important points to take from this definition.
- A mentor is someone you can trust. What are you trusting them with? Your secret fears, your burning questions, your disappointments and your joys.
- A mentor is experienced. How is that going to help you? We are each unique, but our experiences have a commonality. Your mentor has probably been somewhere similar to where you are, and has some insight to offer.
- A mentor is an advisor. Do you really need another person telling you what to do? No, and no mentor should. To advise means to "recommend" or "inform". A mentor can tell you what they know and suggest ways this information may benefit you.
For Norma Becker, the benefits of mentoring are numerous. She has now been a mentor several times, offering a confidential "listening ear" to pastor’s wives and other women, and using Scripture for perspective on issues they discuss. Norma offers these tips for those considering having a mentor or mentoring someone else:
- Be available or be willing to ask. As a mentor, you should not be afraid to take on a challenge. Make the time for this enriching part of the Christian life. If you would like someone to mentor you, be sure to pray about it and then ask them. "When I talk to an individual about [mentoring], I suggest that they find someone in the church that they feel they would be comfortable with and ask them if they would be willing to mentor them," Norma says. "I think the older women have to be challenged to make time and say ‘yes’ if anyone asks them. All of mine have been people that have asked me."
- Be trustworthy. The person you mentor must be able to trust you implicitly and know that nothing they tell you will ever be taken any further. It is a completely sacrosanct relationship, as Norma cautions, "The first thing I do is tell them that anything they say will be confidential–not even shared with my husband."
- Be flexible and God-honoring. Mentoring is an act of service. Approach the relationship seeking only to meet someone else’s needs and encourage them in their relationship with Christ. "I ask them what they want to get out of it," Norma says of those she has mentored. "I am willing to have a Bible study with them, go through a book, just listen to what they want to talk about (after telling them I’m not a counselor), hold them accountable for memorizing and having a quiet time.
Many churches now offer programs to match those who are seeking mentors with those willing to take on the job. These can provide an excellent framework for those who are new to the idea, and offer suggestions for resources. There are no "magic solutions" for the difficulties in arranging a mentoring program, Norma insists. Instead, willingness and grace must be exercised: "I do think one of the keys is to challenge the older women to be willing to give of their time–but not to lecture." Above all, mentoring is a relationship between two people; hard and fast rules may not be the order of the day. "Some programs say that you are committed for six months or a year, but I have found that once you get started it goes on for quite awhile," Norma admits. "I have felt that each individual wants something different, so it would be hard to have a program to be followed." If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or in having a mentor, ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. Ask Him to lead you to the person He has selected to bring this unique insight to your life, or to be ready when a younger woman comes to you and asks for your help. Pray, too, that He will develop the relationship between you, and make your time together fruitful and rewarding. If you are interested in becoming part of the email mentoring program we’d love to give you more information. Please visit http://truthmedia.com/team/mentoring/ If you are interested in working together through a series of books for spiritual growth, try these excellent resources from Campus Crusade for Christ. 10 Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity - The series introduces Jesus Christ and explains how to live the Christian walk. Each step contains six to seven lessons, plus a review section. These studies have been used effectively by churches, individuals, and home Bible study groups worldwide, providing a solid foundation for Christian growth. A great resource for discipling. Available online here or order the booklets by going to New Life Resources Transferable Concepts - A "transferable concept" is an idea or a truth which can be transferred or communicated from one person to another and then to another, spiritual generation after generation, without distorting or diluting its original meaning. This series of "how to’s" discusses many of the basic truths that Jesus and His disciples taught, such as walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer and introducing others to Christ. Available online here or by going to New Life Resources to purchase. Seven Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer - This handy reference guide will help make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. Keep it with you during your fast and refer to it often because it gives easy-to-follow suggestions on how to begin your fast, what to do while you fast, and how to end your fast properly. Available online here or from by going to New Life Resources -RuthAnn Raycroft was the editor of Women Today Magazine from February 1998 to June 2000. She is a freelance writer and looking forward to "finishing that novel." If you would like to be connected with a mentor, click here.