Mentoring requires people to be in communication, to be connected, in order for it to work. Perhaps an obvious fact, but I suppose many people feel that they can be mentored by remote control. It is true that we can be mentored through reading books, because there is a lot of information that we can learn from authors that we respect or have been in business for a long time, or model the type of spirituality or theology that we want to become more like them. But if we want real life transformation, we need to become accountable to another person that will keep us focused on our goals, and get in our face when we fall short.
I imagine that most Christians have no argument about being accountable to God. After all, He is our heavenly Father, He is perfect and He has the right to check up on us to see if we are on course. But these same people think being accountable to someone on earth is, to say the least, a touchy matter.
When you think about it, calling someone to account is an act of love. Forcing a protégé to open his life to a confidant who has earned the right to be heard can save marriages from divorce, churches from division, organizations from financial distress, and careers from ruin.
Mentors are also accountable to themselves. It requires that they become vulnerable, not hesitate to show weakness, admit when they are wrong, respond quickly to reproof, and even set an example to those on the outside who are watching.
What about accountability in the Bible? Take a look…
- Joseph was accountable to Potiphar.
- King Saul was accountable to Samuel the prophet.
- King David was accountable to Nathan the prophet.
- Daniel was accountable to God before his accountability to the king.
- Nehemiah was accountable to Artaxerxes the king.
- Jesus was accountable to the Father, and demonstrated it by submitting to the Father’s will.
- The Twelve were accountable to Jesus and also to each other.
- Paul and Silas were accountable to the church at Antioch.
When I think about accountability, I believe that we all need (at times) someone close enough to get in our faces and tell us what we need to hear. It may not be what we want to hear, but we need it to get back on track. Sometimes the truth hurts, but the truth in love is what we are called to do (Ephesians 4:15). A mentor’s wounds are those of a faithful friend. Not everyone has the right to climb into your life and offer rebuke; it is for those who have built this love relationship ahead of time.
I believe that people who are accountable to a mentor are serious about changing their behavior. I read about a study showing that employees who know they are being observed demonstrate a higher quality and quantity of work, knowing they will be held to account.
It’s not easy, mentors need wisdom in dealing with a variety of issues and problems. Remember that you don’t mentor alone. A mentor who sees his protégé stumble must invade that person’s private world.
- One to guide and encourage.
- One to also get in your face when you mess up.
- One who loves you too much to let you play with fire.
- Wisdom from the Proverbs 13:10, 13:14, 13:18, 13:20, 15:31