Every Christian needs a spiritual mentor. Each benefit and are stronger together. The question is whether or not we will reach out and seek the counsel and guidance of a mentor. Yes, the benefits are invaluable and provide a lifeline in the sea of life that has far too many storms. But perhaps you are wondering what some of the key benefits might be of such a relationship. Is it worth it?
Mentoring is defined by Webster as teaching or giving advice or guidance to someone, such as a less experienced person or child. Jesus mentored His disciples during His ministry on earth. In fact, He said anyone who serves Him must follow Him (John 12:26). In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20), Jesus told His followers to “make disciples of all nations.” Making disciples involves much more than giving people a set of rules to follow: it includes living with them and helping them to grow in Jesus. That is mentoring.
The following is a short list of key benefits from establishing a relationship with a spiritual mentor:
Someone to believe in you:everyone desires affirmation. A mentor is someone who believes in you even when understanding all the clutter and imperfections in your life. Someone who will listen carefully to your passions, dreams, goals, hang-ups, and immature ideas and provide caring objective input you can trust which takes into account their sense of how God is working in your life. (Barnabas and John MarkActs 15:36-39; 2 Tim 4:11)
Provides a role model:a mentor has a tall order to fill by presenting themselves as a role model that is not only in talk but in walk. Spiritually this means that they “lead with their life” as commanded by Scripture where it is evident they are led by the Holy Spirit and present a godly role model of Christ-like behavior to those they mentor. Seeing a godly life lived out is an invaluable benefit. (Paul 1 Cor. 11:1)
Promotes spiritual growth:spiritual mentors are by definition to help others develop a solid pattern of spiritual discipline in their lives which helps deepen their personal relationship with God, help them to grow in the image of Christ, and prepare them to become most usable for the kingdom. This activity includes formal and informal Bible study, directed reading, training in the Christian disciplines (quiet time, bible reading, prayer, etc.), helping to determine spiritual gifts and ministry direction. The spiritual life patterns established early on in this relationship are designed to benefit those mentored a lifetime. (Paul Phil 3:13)
Provides accountability:today’s cultural environment provides many land mines and diversions. It is not difficult for the enemy to attempt to derail someone who earnestly desires to deepen their relationship with God. Consequently having a mentor accountability partner is an invaluable benefit for asking tough questions, heading off danger, and derailing diversions. Samuel and Saul (1 Sam. 9-15)
Is an Encourager:the “me” generation of today does not widely promote the notion of encouragement to others. While the Bible is clear that we should look out for the needs of others we often fail in our follow through. Mentees benefit from proactive encouragement from their mentors, who understand the power and value of this critical motivator. (Barnabas and Paul Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-30; 11:22-30)
Available in times of crisis:the Bible is clear that we will experience trials in our lives. We don’t know when, their nature, duration or depth but they will come. Mentors provide a tremendous benefit to those mentored as they experience trials in their lives. Mentors help mentees understand God’s ways and purposes in difficult times; provide counsel and help to navigate through times of crisis; and provide comfort and stability from a trusted relationship. (Paul and Silas Acts 16)
Helps establish and achieve goals:mentors provide valuable advice and objective input as personal and spiritual goals are thought through and established. Once established mentors can then help to monitor, suggest adjustments, and counsel along the way as needed. The real benefit in these areas is helping ensure that the balance of personal and spiritual goals is appropriate, e.g. keeping God as the central focus and priority, ensuring that the mentees spiritual growth pattern is not disrupted by other pursuits. (Paul and Timothy 1 & 2 Timothy)
Provide trusted counsel in life decisions:mentors provide invaluable benefit for providing counsel in major life decisions given the depth of knowledge and relationship developed with the mentee. Some of these decisions come quickly and others may be prepared for. Regardless of the urgency having a trusted objective advocate for weighing major life decisions is extremely valuable (Paul and Titus – Titus)
Benefits other relationships in your life:As mentees grow in their faith and pursuit of a godly Christ-like life virtually every other relationship they have will be positively impacted. Friends, family, co-workers, employees, etc. will all see a changed life. This changed life has the potential to heal relationships, draw others to Christ, and influence others toward a similar experience. (Gal. 5:23-24)
Provides an opportunity to give back:Yes, changed lives draw others to themselves as they see the Spirit of God at work and will establish the groundwork for the mentee to potentially become a mentor to others as God leads. God’s great commission for our lives is to make disciples. Becoming a mentor is a response to this command and the benefit to others cannot be measured in human terms, only from an eternity perspective. The true opportunity to give back and invest in the kingdom is the investing in the lives of others. (Matt 28:19
Whether you are looking for a spiritual mentor or seeking to be one for someone else, I trust these principles from the Bible will help you know some of what a spiritual mentor does. For the student: seek someone you can respect as your teacher. For the mentor: ask God to help you grow to be the respected example you should be so that you can help others to Christian maturity.