The goal of mentoring is to shape integrity and focus vocation. The goal of explicitly Christian mentoring is to help individuals align their lifestyle and purpose for living with the model and commission of Jesus Christ.
The roots of Christian mentoring go back to Jesus himself, who selected twelve disciples and invested significant time and energy to help them align their lives to the ethic of God’s love and to the purpose of God’s redemption of the world. Mentoring is about:
- Experience, not expertise;
- Insight, not mastering information;
- Wisdom, not rationalization;
- Self-discipline, not academic disciplines;
- Surrender, not self.
Mentoring follows a covenant similar to that of coaching, but the content focuses more on the “inner work” of leadership, rather than the external work of planning and implementation.
- Timeline of 3-6 months;
- Weekly intentional conversation;
- Frequent email conversation and text message encouragement;
- Two-way evaluation;
- Shared worship (or spiritual practices);
- Options to renew or continue.
Mentoring may be less structured, but the advantage of a covenant is that when mentoring becomes uncomfortable, it is less likely that the relationship will abruptly end. Mentoring is often 1:1, but also as a small group of 1-12 people. It is difficult for leaders to mentor more than 4-6 people at any given time.
Every mentoring relationship is different. Each person grows at their own pace, in their own order, largely dependent on their personal sense of urgency, the attention of the mentor, and work of the Holy Spirit. Mentors:
- Help the seeker open himself or herself to an unpredictable change, guided by the Holy Spirit;
- Connect the seeker with their own, intimate experience of Christ;
- Guide the seeker to develop spiritual habits for daily living;
- Guide the seeker to discover their unique personality and spiritual gifts;
- Challenge the seeker to confront any inward or outward force that denigrates or sidetracks them;
- Embed in the seeker the celebrated consensus of values, beliefs, and mission of the faith community.
- Encourage the seeker to discern their personal mission in life.
- Align the seeker with God’s purpose of redemption.
This may not all happen in a single covenant period. The mentor knows that (s)he is working in accord with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit will guide the seeker to other opportunities of growth.