Instinctively, most animals raise their offspring with careful guidance. For humans, this involves an extended time of parenting. In faith communities, the corresponding activity is mentoring.
Above all, mentoring involves being who we are in Christ. Adversaries were astonished by Jesus’ disciples and acknowledged the simplicity and power of their training regimen: “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
A primary component of mentoring is teaching (Mt. 28:20). This will include “teaching moments” as they arise. (Mk. 4:40; 9:27-29). At times it will involve correction (Mk. 9:33-37).
Listening is an undergirding aspect of mentoring. For training to be helpfully focused, mentors need to listen to the stories, hopes, disappointments, and fears of their pupils in the faith.
Interestingly, ordinary activities—such as eating together—are significant in mentoring (Lk. 7:34). Relaxed conversation builds the relationship, increases mutuality, and stimulates receptivity.
A kinetic component is often useful. Jesus sent out his disciples to replicate his ministry (Mk. 6:7-13). We can give understudies the chance to work, to sometimes fail (Mk. 9:27-29), and by hands-on experiences to learn.
All the while, we pray. As we do, the Holy Helper suffuses the mentoring pair and empowers both toward maturation (Jn. 14:25-26).
Whether as parents, teachers, or advisors, we stand in a long line of biblical mentors.* In this calling, we are catalysts who spur on the next generation to “grow up in every way into . . . Christ” (Col. 1:28-29; Eph. 4:15).
*To name a few mentoring pairs in the Bible, Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Mordecai and Esther, Jesus and his disciples, Barnabas and Saul, Paul and Timothy,
Aquila and Pricilla with Apollos (Ex. 24:13, 1 Kgs. 19:16, Esther 2:20; Mk. 3:13-15;
Acts11:25-26, 16:1-3, 18:26).