Since Revolution Church is filled with people in college and their 20’s, and because we’re part of Acts 29, I and the other leaders at Revolution will often get requests to mentor someone, either in our church or a church planter or worship leader.
There is also a big desire that many people have to be discipled and mentored. The New Testament, particularly Titus 2:1 – 8, shows how to do this.
The amazing thing in Titus is that the relationships it describes have a few realities:
- They are intentional, but organic.
- They are relational.
- Growth happens through conversations, not necessarily a curriculum.
Paul tells Titus that in mentor relationships, in inter-generational relationships, they happen through proximity. The older are to teach the younger, but the only way for that to happen is for them to be together, not in life stage groups where they never mingle. In this environment, a younger person can find an older person they want to learn from.
Paul tells Timothy what they are to teach, but that teaching means ordinary conversations, not simply standing on a stage, teaching a class. Everyday, ordinary conversations.
What do they teach? What is amazing to me is that Paul says they’ll need to learn the following things. The things they’ll learn are things that won’t come naturally, or else we’d already know them.
This has caused me to think through what makes an effective mentor. They are important, but I think we often set ourselves and the person we are seeking help from up for disaster.
A mentor is someone further ahead of you in an area you want to grow in.
No one person can mentor you in every part of your life.
This is the problem we run into. We look for someone to be the end all, be all for us.
When someone asks for a mentor, I explain this to them and then ask a series of questions:
What are one or two areas you want to grow in as you think about your life in the next 3, 6, 12 months? This could be finances, prayer, marriage, boundaries, health, etc.
Why do you think I can help you? I want to know why they think I can help them. Not because I want to pump up my ego, but I want to know they’ve done their homework on me and didn’t just throw a dart at the wall and pick the closest person.
What are you doing, or have you tried to grow in this area? Often, not always, but often people seek a mentor because they are lazy. I want to know what books or blogs this person has looked at in this area. Are they actively seeking to grow in this area or just hoping to rub off success from someone? Which leads to the last part.
How much time are you willing to put into this? Anything worth doing will take time. You won’t grow in your handling of finances, health, marriage, career, preaching, etc., without putting in time and effort. This is a commitment you as the person getting mentored are making. The mentor is coming along for the ride, and if I as the mentor am not convinced you are into the ride, I’m getting off.
If you are worth your salt as a leader, person or pastor, you will be asked often to mentor people. You must be selective about who you mentor, because you are giving up one of your most precious commodities, your time. If you are asking to be mentored, to succeed and have it be worthwhile for you, you need to do your homework and be willing to put in the work. There is nothing more exciting than working with a person who wants to grow in an area and helping them do that.
We can’t become the person we are to become without relationships with older, more mature people in our lives.