For those interested in growth over the lifespan there can be no better aid, notwithstanding a relationship with Jesus Christ, than mentoring. When we consider that we either grow or regress in life, it pays to plan for growth. Growth is true success. But growth is such an abstract concept.
Because it is impossible to chart our progress, mentoring helps simply chart the journey. It makes nothing of measuring the immeasurable. It works on the observable, on opportunities for strengthening our strengths, and on honing what is identified by the person being mentored as problematic.
Mentoring combines the assistance of a discipler, spiritual guide, coach, counsellor, teacher, sponsor, and hero. And these roles can be combined into three modes of mentoring: intensive, occasional, and passive.
1. Intensive Mentoring
This concentrated variety of mentoring encompasses the roles of discipler, spiritual guide, and coach. This intensive process involves equipping those being mentored with the basics for following Christ, engaging them for accountability and for the provision of direction and insight, and for motivation and skill development.
The style of mentoring is likely to be frequent, targeted, and possibly directive. This is the most deliberate style of mentoring. We can imagine those involved in this mentoring meeting fortnightly.
2. Occasional Mentoring
With less directive mentoring the roles of counsellor, teacher, and sponsor come into effect. What is less directive is less deliberate. The mentor under this regime is more of a wise friend than an accountability partner, though wise friends will always step into the breach.
The counsellor provides the subtleties of timely advice and correct perspectives on views of self and others, circumstances, and ministry. The teacher will help with knowledge and understanding in a particular subject. The sponsor provides career guidance and protection as the person being mentored moves through organisational strata.
Being less directive and less deliberate, those engaged in this mentoring would meet 4-6 weekly. It is intentionally a hands-off process and it’s typically driven by the person being mentored.
3. Passive Mentoring
Role models or heroes best suit the idea of the mentor in passive mentoring.
This usually involves no relationship at all, as the ‘mentor’ is a contemporary or historical figure we simply admire, observe, and try to be like. We emulate what they do and teach by reading what they wrote or listening to what they say or said. This sort of mentoring has influenced every single one of us. Every one of us has had a hero we looked up to.
Growth is our opportunity to advance in the faith, enabling us to love and serve others better, to live more hopefully, and to worship God more fully. Mentoring is central to growth. It is a very wise and godly thing to come under the charge of good mentoring.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Paul D. Stanley & J. Robert Clinton, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1992). The three models proposed above are sourced from this text.