The reason so many very valuable wise Christian leaders don’t mentor anybody is because they are too busy. Christian leaders simply do not have enough hours in a day to personally mentor every church member in using their gifts.
When I was a pastor in a congregation of more than three thousand students, who do you mentor? I made a strategic decision to rather do most of the mentoring in groups, but I had just a few(three) leaders I mentored on an one-to-one level.
Moses tried to be everything to everybody and eventually experienced burn-out. It was then when his father-in-law Jethro, gave him the counsel not to try to be all for everybody, but to mentor a few to mentor others – Exodus 18:13-26.
Spiritual mentorship is the connection between this generation of Christian leaders and the next generation. It could protect leaders from falling and help them on their feet while stumbling.
Christian leaders will have to focus on a few strategic other leaders in their organisation/church with their mentoring, and make some choices. Here are three possible criteria who to mentor…
- Existing leadership or staff team members.
- Key organisation/church “workers” – people who are already making a significant contribution to the work of the organisation/church.
- People you believe to be emerging leaders.
Initially you should focus on a few (three to maximum five persons of the same gender as you), but there are mentors who grew this to eight over time once they have mastered the approach. Ideally over half should be leaders or future leaders – people who can in turn develop others in their gifts and talents.
How to decide who to mentor?
• Determine what contribution you could make to a possible protégé.
• Make a list of possible candidates.
• Review the ideal protégé list.
• Review the definition for spiritual mentoring – see if the candidates comply.
• Pray for the Lord’s guidance in your decision who to choose.
How to approach a spiritual protégé?
Pray about the person God lies on your heart and when you calmness in your heart about mentoring this person, make an appointment with the person. Talk about the potential you see in this person’s life. Tell the person that you are willing to mentor him/her and what it might look like:
- Pray regularly for the protégé.
- To be of help in times of success and emergency.
- This mentoring relation is to help the protégé to reach his/her God-given potential.
- Meet on pre-arranged criteria (possibly once a week/two weeks for an hour/two).
- Make a commitment for a set time (6 or 12 months) and the possibility and reasons/criteria for ending the mentoring relationship.
- Explain to the person what you understand about spiritual mentorship: Accountability; Reflection; Leadership principles in the Bible; Character development; Might include an exposure trip.
- Explain the “dream” you have about mentorship.
Give the spiritual protégé time to pray and think about the commitment and the cost before you actually make a mutual commitment and start with the mentoring meetings.
An agenda for a mentoring conversation can look like this:
• Urgent decisions which call for perspective
• Problems with priorities
• Personal lack of perspective, pitfalls, etc
• Plans and goals
• Prayer requests
• Character development
• And many more…
A few hints for spiritual mentors:
• Do not mentor one-to-one any person of the opposite gender. (I had a few women in a mentoring group of 15, but never did one-to-one mentoring with them).
• Do not try to do spiritual mentoring as a non-christian.
• Do not have unrealistic expectations.
• Be prepared for disappointments.
• Don’t try to control the protégé.
• Don’t manipulate the mentoring relationship.
• This mentoring relationship is no license to unlimited take-over.
• Walk at all times in the Light of Christ.
• Don’t be too busy and over-committed.
• Don’t borrow from, lend to, or give money to the protégé – it complicates the relationship.
• A lack of commitment or motivation brings tension.
• Determine ahead of time the lifespan of the relationship.
• Don’t be too busy – the protégé could try not to bother.
• Don’t imitate spiritual sufficiency, we are all still growing – we did not yet arrive in heaven.
• Be aware of the fact that a possible protégé-to-be might be skeptical about the mentoring relationship because of earlier negative experiences.
Mentoring is after all not for everybody. This will take consistency, dedication and commitment from a person to be a mentor.