People are starting to ask more questions as I have been sharing the message of Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship this month. If they ask questions that are beneficial to a larger group, I will share my responses here on Mentoring Mondays.
Natasha, when mentoring, how does someone avoid the temptation to turn people into projects?
In Mentor for Life, I share the importance of mentoring within a small community of approximately six people. As my mentoring model, Jesus invested in a small group of people over a longer period of time. When he invested in the lives of the twelve disciples, he was able to intentionally teach and equip them to carry on the primary life work of making disciples of others long after his earthly mission was completed.
One-on-one mentoring relationships are important and are normally divinely ordained by God for a specific purpose. If you are being lead to enter into a one-on-one mentoring relationship, you and your mentor or mentee must ask and clearly answer the question:
Why has God brought us together?
This initial conversation can clarify expectations and help determine the best way to move ahead. This is the conversation in which you build your affirmations, mutual commitments, and/or spiritual growth plan. Taking this intentional step can ensure that the mentoring relationship and the individuals in the relationship are thriving and working together towards an intentional goal.
If the mentees temptation in a one-on-one relationship is to make the mentoring experience all about them and what they can get out of it, then the mentor’s temptation is to turn a mentee into their special “project.” Pride and selfish ambition are just two of the sins that make us think we have authority or the right to dictate someone else’s life. That is not the role, responsibility, or posture of people who are mentoring for God’s kingdom purposes. They are the sins and fears that I must resist, even as a parent.
I often say, in the book and in my life and ministry work, that I am not trying to shape people into my own image, nor do I have the power to change anyone. Those who Mentor for Life do so with the understanding that they are agreeing with the desire, work, and power of the Holy Spirit to shape the heart, renew the mind, and change the life of another people. As mentors, we are only a catalyst for this divine work. So mentoring for life, requires our submission to the Holy Spirit, and our prayer to regularly ask God what he wants to do in and through the life of another person.
When mentoring for life, we honor that all people are created in the image of God, so their life has worth and value, even when they have screwed up. We acknowledge that God has a purpose and plan for every one of us, and through mentoring, we can patiently and lovingly challenge and help mentees live their lives on purpose for God. On the road to this discovery, we can encourage and equip them to steward their gifts, talents, passions, callings, and work well.
In summary, consider:
- Is a one-on-one mentoring relationship best, or can we resist the temptation of turning people into projects by mentoring within the context of a small community?
- Have I asked God and clearly determined whether I should mentor this person(s) and why he has brought us together?
- The first pillar of the Mentor for Life framework is Knowing and Loving God. In what ways can I regularly remind myself: “Mentoring is not about me. It’s about God and the work he wants to do in the life of another.”
- How can I intentionally pray for wisdom and guidance as I mentor others, submit to the Holy Spirit, and seek God’s best for their lives?
What are some ways you have avoided the temptation to turn people into projects?
Note: Those who complete an early order of Mentor for Life, and provide their confirmation receipt here before April 30, 2016, will review a free downloadable six lesson leadership training manual and videos.