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Five Steps to Becoming a Mentor

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A few weeks ago, I began a series of posts on the importance of spiritual mentoring as it relates to our call to make disciples. Last week, I dealt with the qualities of a great mentor. But what if you’re the mentor and you feel called to take someone else under your wing? How do you begin a relationship of that magnitude and depth? This is something that confuses and even frustrates many who have tried. I believe the process can be boiled down to five important steps.

1. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

If you feel that God is laying someone on your heart, spend time encouraging that individual. Point out his gifts and strengths. Listen to his struggles and, if appropriate, offer advice.

My Dad rarely lets a conversation end without telling me he loves me and that he’s proud of me. Even when I’ve made huge mistakes, he has left me with that reminder. It has been so important to the foundation of our relationship that I know that. It’s something I’ve also carried into my relationship with Caleb.

When it comes to the workplace, I’ve also noticed that the work healthiest environments are often led by men or women who continually lift up their employees. Go out of your way to make sure your potential mentee knows that you see something valuable in him or her that will impact others.

2. Invite the person into your life.

As I mentioned in the first post of this series, true discipleship is being immersed in someone else’s life. The more time you spend with the person, the more they’ll begin to trust you and the more they’ll understand about your life.

If the person is a coworker, invite him to lunch every couple of weeks. If that doesn’t work, grab some coffee together. Invite him into projects you’re spearheading.

If he’s your neighbor, invite him to run to the store with you. Let him meet your family and see you around your kids. Help him mow his lawn and invite his family over for dinner.

If he’s a classmate, study together after class. Grab some coffee together and work through projects and problems together.

Do you notice a theme here? It’s all about spending time with the person. You can’t engineer quality time so you have to reach for as much of it as possible. These aren’t deep sessions in which you drop nuggets of wisdom into his life. He or she is simply doing life with you.

3. Let the relationship develop naturally.

This is critical. Many mentoring relationships are destroyed when either party tries to force it. If God is in it, he will continually draw the two of you closer together.

Don’t try to engineer the relationship by setting up some structure of meeting times and curriculum to work through. While there are many discipleship and mentoring books that may work, it’s best to let the relationship progress organically through normal interactions.

4. Give him opportunities to succeed (and fail).

People learn best when they’re thrown into daring new situations. If you believe the person you are mentoring is gifted at something or may be called to a particular vocation, give him opportunities to exercise those gifts.

I’ve worked for several pastors who were mentors to me. Each of them gave me chances to preach. They let me try new things, even when they new those ideas were going to blow up in my face. They took me along on hospital visits and used the time together to coach me along.

When I did well, they let me know it. When I needed to improve in a certain area, they gave me practical advice to help me overcome my weaknesses. Both my successes and failures under their leadership were crucial to my development as a man and a minister.

Look for opportunities to stretch him with projects or tasks that he may not feel capable of completing. If he succeeds, encourage him. If he fails, help him see the chances for growth and throw him back into the situation. I’ve never considered someone a mentor who didn’t do this for me.

5. Point to Christ.

As you immerse this person into your life, make sure your life actually points to Christ. Let him see your failures and how Christ has overcome them. Let him see your gifts and how you use them to benefit the Kingdom. If the person is a Christian, this is vital to his or her spiritual growth. Let your own dependence on Christ be the model for his dependence on Christ.

If the person isn’t a Christian, this is where evangelism comes into play. As you build the person’s trust, opportunities will continue to arise for you to show what being a follower of Christ has meant to you. Invite him to church, tell your story, and make sure he know you’re praying for him.

What else would you suggest?

Posted in: Discipleship

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