Had it not been for a series of individuals who invested time and energy to help me see and under Jesus better, I do not believe that I would have been able to fully understand God’s call to ministry in my life. The mentors in my life went to great lengths to invest in myself and truly display what the love of Christ looks like in everyday matters.
Mentorship is a Biblical and necessary part of the local church. For the church to see spiritual and foundational growth in the hearts of their young men and women, mentorship is needed. Some of the greatest mentor-mentee relationships included Eli and Samuel (1 Samuel 3), Elijah and Elisha (1 and 2 Kings) and Paul and Timothy (1 and 2 Timothy).
These relationships were firmly rooted in God, but also focused on sharing knowledge through personal experiences. These men met and wrote regularly to their mentees. They would check-in, offer advice and encouragement, share meals and grow together. Most importantly though, these mentors modeled the way. Their actions were imitable and as a mentor, all your actions should be the same.
The church desperately needs more people who are walking with Christ and willing to mentor young people. The relationship that a mentor can have with a mentee is incredible and life-changing. Mentorship may include book studies, life discussions, and accountability, but it requires a focus on Jesus. Mentorship is more than just meeting-up to talk about a book. Mentorship is life together. It’s sharing meals, enjoying shared activities and so much more.
Pastors and church leaders need to help young people grow through mentorship, but it’s also the responsibility of all church members walking closely with God to find a young person to share their life with through mentorship. Mentorship is something more than just another meeting, it’s discipleship that dives in and connects the hearts of older men and women with younger men and women. This means not just meeting-up to talk about a book, but also sharing meals, enjoying shared activities and so much more.
Five years ago, Lifeway conducted a survey and found that “68 percent of churched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important.” Many young men and women are interested in developing a relationship with older adults. Young men and women value the lessons and character that were learned from the experiences of those older than them.
As a church, you don’t have to be a distinguished leader or a pastor to mentor. One of my biggest mentors was neither a leader nor a pastor in the church, rather he was a man of God, wanting to help a young man see exactly what God can do if you allow Him to work in your life.
If you believe God is calling you into a mentorship with a young person in the church, there are several things that you should be doing as you look for continued discernment about such a relationship. Below are four things that are needed when mentoring another believer.
Mentorship begins with prayer. By praying for who God desires you to teach and develop, you are putting that relationship in His hands. Be praying for the young person God desires you to mentor, be praying for what God wants you to share, be praying for Him to guide and lead the relationship.
There are multiple things to prepare for. First, you must be prepared in the Bible. Knowing what the Bible says and how it has impacted your life allows for a greater ability to share straight from the word of God. Having additional resources is an excellent way to continue to grow together but if your mentor-mentee relationship is not rooted in the Bible, it’s not spiritual mentorship. Additionally, if you are merely acquaintances or friends with the young person God has called you to mentor, be sure to work on developing the relationship from a friendship to a mentorship.
This goes hand and hand in preparing. Be ready to express your intentions and desire to mentor the young person. Young people in the church are greatly desiring advice from those ahead of them so be ready to share with them. Additionally, be ready to set boundaries. While you are developing a deeper relationship with the younger person, boundaries are incredibly necessary to the relationship. Be sure you set them right away and consistently back them up as the relationship grows.
Be committed to the relationship. Develop it, grow it. Do not get into a mentoring relationship if you cannot fulfill regular communication and contact. Mentorship requires consistency if there is actual growth to be found in the mentee.
Mentorship is a great and desperate need in our churches today. Whether you are a pastor, a leader or just a growing follower of Christ, it is up to you to ensure that the young people in the church have the opportunity to be mentored. No matter your title, you can be a mentor to a young person in the church. I would challenge you to take the necessary steps to begin a mentorship with a young person in your church. Whether small or large, having someone to look up to and to ask questions of is a need that young people will always have. Start with one and see where God leads. Ultimately I truly believe that God has called us all to turn around and help others grow in Christ.