Becoming a Spiritual Mentor
Someone you know right now needs a spiritual mentor. They may not use those words, or even know exactly what they need. But most younger men and women wish they had an older person who they could learn to do life from.
Several years ago, I was at a Christian men’s conference in San Francisco. After the evening meetings hundreds of men gathered over a glass of wine, just to talk. I sat down at a table of young men, complete strangers. After a time, I asked several of the men why they came to the conference.
“I’m looking for a safe dad,” he said.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked. “My dad walked out on his family when I was a kid, so I would never go to him to ask his advise on marriage or spiritual things. I started attending the local meetings of this ministry and the men there seem to have their act together. So, I’m getting to know a few better, hoping that one of them would mentor me.”
A second man chimed in with this. “I found a safe dad. I had a good Christian father, but there are all kinds of things I could never talk to him about. I meet with my mentor every few weeks. It’s great just having someone ask questions about all kinds of things from my marriage to how the Christian life works.”
There is someone you know right now looking for a safe dad and you may be God’s answer to their need. Here’s how to start. Finding a Protégé If God has blessed you with a level of spiritual maturity and some years of experience, pray about becoming a spiritual mentor. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant. I have met men who could be mentors, but who disqualify themselves because they’re not successful leaders or strong Bible teachers. All you really need to mentor is to love God, care for people, know the Bible reasonably well, and be willing to be transparent and available to another person.
At various times in my life, I’ve met people who I sense need guidance. They might be new in town and have left their spiritual community or family behind. In conversations, I’ve picked up signals from people who have never had a close relationship with their father or another spiritual person. And I’ve met men who are new Christians who could use someone to nurture them for a season to give them direction in life. Perhaps you have a nephew or the son of a friend who you sense needs some direction.
There is a greater need for mentors than there are spiritually mature men and women available. If you have the courage to pray about it, God will direct you to just the right person. I’m sure there is a protégé as described above right now looking for a person to help them, but afraid to ask or unsure who to ask. Be proactive. If God has put someone on your mind, pray about that person or ask God to bring someone to mind. He will. Then be bold. Take the first step. You reach out to them.
Some practical suggestions
Invite the potential protégé or mentor out for coffee, a meal, or invite them to your home. Tell them, “God put you on my mind, and I’m trying to figure out why. Could we meet? I’d like to get to know you better.”
Spend time getting acquainted. Share your family and faith journeys, interests, and hobbies. Start to get to know each other without any discussion of mentoring. These meetings will help you get a sense for whether or not this person is the one God has in mind for you.
After several meetings, if you sense a mutual desire to continue, discuss what each of you would like to see happen in your relationship. I don’t recommend committing to a mentoring relationship until you’ve met three or four times. Make sure the chemistry works and discern if the protégé is teachable. Take time to pray about it. If you think you’re ready to commit, purchase a copy of the Spiritual Mentoring Guide on my website, Store Page (https://www.claredegraaf.com/store/). Make a copy of the guide for your potential protégé.
Ask your protégé to pray about whether or not he would like to continue meeting and ask them to call you if that’s their desire. Don’t ask for a commitment on the spot. Make it easy for them to say “no” by not calling. And tell them, “If I’ve not heard from you in the next few weeks, I’ll assume this doesn’t work for you and that’s okay.” Let the protégé take the next step; don’t call to follow up.
If they call and want to continue, set a time for your next meeting. Meeting every other week is a good place to start.
Ask permission to share email or other contact information and to befriend them on Facebook. Ask for the names of their spouse and children, as well as a photo of their family, so you can visualize them in your prayers.
Toward the end of the Spiritual Mentoring Guide, there are lots of great questions you may want to ask each other over the next few months to get started.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Next week’s post: Finding a Good Spiritual Mentor
How following Jesus works in real life.
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