By Hope Komarynsky and Michelle Martin
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Some mentoring experiences are akin to mints….just a short little burst of cleansing, bright refreshment….like moments spent with my elderly friend, Eleanor. As a young mom of five and new Christian, I would often have just a few minutes of pleasant conversation with Eleanor then walk away knowing something profound had been imparted to me. One day during lunch together, I asked her to share what she would have done differently raising her five children. Casually and humbly, she said, “Oh, Michelle, I guess if I could’ve done anything differently, I might’ve spent less time worrying about them and more time just loving on them.” I walked away with more freedom to love and freed from the unloving practice of worry. She’d imparted wisdom.
Although there are many styles of mentoring, it is generally characterized when one person, younger or less knowledgeable, asks another further ahead what they’ve learned along the way. Mentoring topics vary surrounding careers, skills, personal life or spirituality. Some mentoring relationships are for an hour, a season or lifetime.
In the book, Ax-i-om, the author attests to having many mentors, experts in fields he was wanting to grow. If there’s someone you know who doesn’t have time to add another formal relationship in their life, ask for just an hour. Ask for what you need but be specific. You might be amazed how productive one hour of targeted mentoring can be with 2 or 3 people that have specific information you need.
A more long-term mentoring resource throughout life is family. For example, parents who take the teaching and modeling of truths to their children seriously are mentors. Jesus daily modeled life to His disciples; He did the ordinary of life with them. He also gave them ministry opportunities and when they succeeded, they celebrated. Though Jesus gently rebuked, He also powerfully encouraged with prayer, exhortation and contagious joy. How are you mentoring those you live with?
Mentors can be dead or alive, familiar or total strangers. There are mentors whose books and recordings create a transforming impact on many lives.. On the way to school every day for years, the children and I listened to Chuck Swindoll’s and James Dobson’s radio programs. They mentored both myself and even my children to the degree they could absorb. Imagine my surprise when in middle school, my son was asked to invite an influential person in his life to speak to his class. He invited Dr. Charles Swindoll!
In his article, Shepherding the Flock, Daniel Stegeman wrote: “Everyone needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in life. This saying carries a pretty simple meaning, but when applied, it can be transformative.” In the Bible, Eli mentored Samuel then Samuel mentored David. Barnabas was an encourager and peer mentor to Paul. Paul mentored Timothy. This demonstrates the God-designed chain for mentoring.
Everyone should have in their life: a Paul (a mentor a few steps ahead), a Barnabas (a peer encourager / mentor) and a Timothy (a mentee). I encourage you to think through who might fill those roles in your own life. Pray to discover who God has in mind. Then, be intentional, proactive, and humbly ask for what you need.
God designed mentoring as a gift for each of us!