#6 You Don’t Have to Solve Every Problem your Protégé Has.
When I talk to people about being a mentor, clearly one of their greatest fears is that they’re not knowledgeable enough to answer every question they imagine will come up. Relax – you don’t have to!
The Metamorphosis of a Mentor
I’ve observed there are stages in almost every mentor’s journey. Here’s what will likely happen in yours;
Stage #1: The Mentor/Friend. Soon after you begin meeting, it will become obvious that your protégé has some spiritual, financial, relational or marriage issues that are over your head. At first you’ll just listen because you’re not a Bible teacher, a CPA, or a marriage counselor. You’ll help them by being a sounding board, and by giving them some good biblical counsel, as well as common sense advice based on your own experience in these areas. And, if that’s all you ever do, you will still have had a profound impact on your protégé that will bear fruit for generations.
Stage #2: The Intentional Mentor. However, some of you will or already are, finding that God is calling you to deepen your mentoring ministry. You can see yourself mentoring several people in the future and perhaps even more after retirement. Perhaps you’ve begun thinking of mentoring your sons-in-law, or daughters-in-law if you’re a woman, or grandchildren. If you sense this could be a new and expanding ministry for you, then there are a few things you could do to prepare yourself for that role.
Start a Resource File.
How many times have you had a conversation with someone and said, “A few years ago, I read something about that topic I found helpful. I wish I would have kept a copy!”
I have a file cabinet with hanging folders on over 200 different topics. Whenever I read helpful articles online or in magazines, they get filed away. If I outline sermons or talks I really benefited from, in there they go. When I write what I personally believe on a certain topic (see my blog on Writing Jesus Speeches, May 16, 2013) in the file it goes. CD’s or sermons or recorded talks also fill my files.
As your resource file grows, it will be an invaluable resource for you and the people you mentor. I actually show the men I mentor the files in my office and invite them to come back during office hours, go through them and copy anything they find valuable. I’m sure there’s a way to set up an electronic file, which would be far more accessible. I’m just useless with technology, so for now it’s paper.
Begin a list of Professional Advisors.
Many times you’ll run into situations that are out of your area of expertise – then what? I’m a spiritual mentor. I’m not a marriage counselor, lawyer or financial expert. But, I know good people who are and I want to make it easy for the men I meet with to get in touch with them.
Years ago, I began a Professional Advisors list. On it I put the names and contact information of Christian attorneys, CPA’s, financial advisors, marriage, or family counselors who I trust. On my list I also have the names of para church ministries, books and websites I trust and have found helpful, by topic. I print off copies and keep them on-hand to pass out or email to anyone who has a question or need I don’t feel competent to handle. Having my Professional Advisors list takes a lot of pressure off me and connects them with good, godly counselors, right in our community.
Stage #3: Elder of the City. In time, if you’re intentional, you’ll become a more and more, mature follower of Jesus – a man or woman of wisdom. People will seek you out for advice and counsel. Less and less will you have to rely on your resource file. More and more the Holy Spirit will remind you of the truths of scripture, the practical application of these truths and you’ll grow more confident as a mentor, father, mother or grandparent, because you have more confidence in God. You will become what I call, an elder of the city.
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.” Proverbs 4:1-5
If you’d like to know more about what it means to be an elder of the city, you can read my blog on that subject by clicking on that title which is listed here on the left side of my website Home page.
Spiritual Mentoring Books I like:
Transforming to Together: Authentic Spiritual Mentoring, by Ele Parrott
Spiritual Mentoring, by Keith Anderson
As Iron Sharpens Iron, by Howard Hendricks (and his son)