Mentoring – A Key to Community

Do you feel connected to your church? If you say “yes,” you probably have close friendships with numerous individuals within your congregation. These relationships – especially those which span generational gaps – are one of the defining factors between you and those who feel disconnected from their churches. A study by the Barna Group showed that “seven out of ten millennials who dropped out of church did not have a close friendship with an adult and nearly nine out of ten never had a mentor at the church.”[1]

Mentorship is a key to unlocking meaningful community, but it doesn’t only create community. Mentorship also produces personal growth and empowers others. Because of these benefits, every Christian needs a mentor, and every grounded Christian needs to be a mentor.

What is mentorship?

Mentorship is a relationship between a mentor and a mentee. This relationship allows the mentee to process and discuss life decisions with someone who has more experience. It doesn’t need to follow a certain formula. You don’t even need to call it “mentoring” if that seems too formal. Mentorship can simply be getting together and discussing the things that the mentee truly cares about. Keep in mind that a good mentoring relationship requires vulnerability – for both parties involved. One of my mentors intentionally creates opportunities for vulnerability by asking how he can pray for me, then also telling me ways that I can pray for him.

Is mentorship in the Bible?

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul tells Timothy to take what he was teaching him and share it with other men who would then be able to share it with others. Older women are instructed to teach younger women in Titus 2:2-6. While the word “mentoring” doesn’t appear in Scripture, we have examples such as Eli and Samuel, Moses and Joshua, Jesus and His disciples, Barnabas and Saul, Paul and Timothy, and others which show us that Scripture places value in mentoring.

How do you choose a mentor?

Luke 6:40 tells us that “everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”[2] Who do you want to be like? If you look around and don’t see anyone whose life you want to imitate 100%, don’t despair. Mentors are still growing more and more into the image of Christ too. Look for a Christ-centered person with excellent character, not necessarily someone who thinks exactly the same as you do or who values all the same things that you do.

How do you choose a mentee?

There are a lot of people who don’t have mentors, but you probably can’t mentor all of them. To help you decide whom you should mentor, ask yourself the following questions:

Whom do I see as someone with great potential?
Who seems to be floundering on their own?
Whom do I know that has probably never been asked to be a mentee?

Most importantly, pray about it. That’s what Jesus did before choosing His twelve closest mentees.[3]

Should you really be a mentor?

I’m making the claim that every grounded Christian needs to be a mentor. Maybe you are questioning if you are at the place where you need to be in order to help guide someone else. Try asking yourself the following questions:

Am I living a life that is a good example?
Can I say as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”?[4]
Am I continually striving to follow the commandment given in Matthew 22:37-39 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself”?[5]

If you can truthfully say “yes” to all of these, then yes – you should be a mentor.

Does a mentor need to be older than the mentee?

Scripture seems to suggest that there are times when the mentor can be younger than the mentee. It is likely that eleven of the twelve disciples were less than twenty years old during Jesus’ earthly ministry.[6] Acts 2:41-42 tells us that three thousand new converts all devoted themselves to the teaching of these young disciples. Paul instructs Timothy not to allow people to reject him because of his young age, but rather to be an example to all the believers.[7] While it’s generally better if the mentor is older than the mentee, spiritual maturity is more important than age.

Whose job is it to start the mentoring relationship?

Intentional mentorship is something I never experienced until I was nineteen years old. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was a good idea before then or that I didn’t want to be mentored. The problem was that no one had ever asked if they could mentor me. Since then, in talking to people both young and old about mentorship, I have realized a trend. There are a lot of older people who would be willing to mentor someone, but they aren’t mentoring anyone. No one has approached them. I also have found many younger people who would love to have a mentor, but they are waiting for someone older to initiate the relationship.

Whose job is it? The answer is simple. It’s yours. The responsibility does not fall on only the mentors or on the mentees – it rests on each individual.

So go ahead. Find some people who you want to be like and ask them if you can pull wisdom from their experience. Keep your eyes open for people in whom you see potential. Step up and begin to build strong community, one relationship at a time.

 

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Matt Jantzi grew up in rural Ontario, Canada. He is passionate about discipleship, personal evangelism, apologetics, and global missions. Matt loves encouraging other young Christians to radically follow Jesus, regardless of the cost. In his spare time, you can find him watching debates, studying systematic theology, or using sleight of hand magic tricks to share the Gospel with strangers.

Sources cited

[1] “5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church,” Barna Group, accessed August 08, 2018, https://www.barna.com/research/5-reasons-millennials-stay-connected-to-church/.
[2] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 2007, 2011.
[3] Luke 6:12-13
[4] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 2007, 2011.
[5] Ibid
[6] See Exodus 30:13-14 and Matthew 17:24-27
[7] 1 Timothy 4:12

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