Mentoring 101

Mentoring is not really a new idea. It was a way of life between generations; passing on information, history, stories and a legacy to the next generation. In the past, there was not much talk about mentoring because it was expected, assumed, and therefore unnoticed.

As I study the Bible, I notice that nearly all training of people in Scripture was through mentoring. One of my favorite examples was the relationship between Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 19:19, 20, 21); I’ll share more about them at a later date. The point is that he followed Elijah, forsaking everything he had come to know.

In the New Testament, Jesus spent more time developing a few people than dazzling the multitudes or crowds with sermons and authoritative teaching. He invested himself into the Twelve; He spent time with them. One of my favorite Bible passages is Mark 3:13-14, where Jesus called His closest men to himself. Did you catch what He called them to do? Our attention generally goes to “sending them out to preach” because that was the task given to them. We often overlook the phrase just before that, “He appointed the Twelve, that they might be with Him.” I call it the “with Him” principle, and it is the same call that Jesus gives to us.

I once heard a story about a turtle perched on top of a fence pole. An inquisitive mind would wonder how it would have gotten up there (where many people might just let it go unnoticed). The answer is, that someone else put him up there. This is a simple truth in life about success. Successful people never reach their goals alone. Mentoring will help people get to where they want and need to go.

Have you heard about the origin of the word “mentor?” In Homer’s Odyssey, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his palace. He was to teach Telemachus not only book learning but the wiles of the world. When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus’ mother, Penelope. As Mentor, the goddess encourages Telemachus to stand up against the suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father.

The modern use of the word mentor refers to a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professions have “mentoring programs” in which newcomers are paired with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples as they advance. Schools sometimes offer mentoring programs to new students, or students having difficulties. I have in my office a certificate of appreciation from the Virginia Beach school system for “dedicated service and commitment” as a mentor.

Why cannot this concept exist in the church today? In the next few months, King’s Grant Baptist Church is working on a mentoring strategy to help our guests and new members to discover the life about which Jesus spoke (John 10:10). This life is caught more than it is taught. It’s time to step out of the comfort zone into real life! I trust you’ll want to be involved.

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