Look on the Fields: Mentoring

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2Tim 2:2).

“Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources” (from Connecting, the Mentoring Relationships you Need to Succeed in Life [1993:33] Paul D. Stanley and J. Robert Clinton).

In outreach work to new places and people, it is really unfair to send someone without some preparation as to what to expect. After almost every open-air meeting, home gathering, whether few or many people were in attendance, or larger meetings in a tent or building, Mr. Herb Harris would insist on a cup of tea. During the hour or so he took to drink his tea, he would go over how we greeted people, the way we opened a meeting and led hymn singing, the way we held our Bible, and the way and tone of voice we used when reading the holy Scriptures. Then he would finally get down to what he really wanted to say – the way we delivered a message.

“Project your voice more. Speak so those in the last row can hear. Don’t look at the walls or the floor. Look at the people. People read your face. It is more important for you to get one thing across to the people than to deliver your three or four points. Watch the eyes of the people and their facial expressions.”

When a person truly believes they have something important to say, it comes across in the tone of voice used and the degree of enthusiasm with which the message is given. The words we use and the way we present God’s truth using these words deserve our best attention and prep­aration. Sometimes a quiet tone of voice and words spoken slowly and distinctly in a low tone convey seriousness that will not be accepted in a loud voice or normal tone. Even a long silence can impact what has just been said or what will be spoken next.

It also involves teaching doctrinal truths and will explain how to build and maintain relationships. The parent passes on to his or her child things learned by experience. So does the mentor. The link needed in mentoring is an attitude of hunger and openness; availability to be with the other person; and accountability that involves honest communication regarding goals and expectations.

Another area of mentoring that may only happen occasionally is when giving an explanation as to why certain things are important. Someone in a new work will appreciate the fact they know they have a mentor’s full support even though the mentor is not there in person. An honest mentor will not only pass on what has worked positively in his labor for the Lord, but be willing to admit his failures and lack of success and what he thinks caused it. He will be willing to tell plainly what he would do differently if he had the opportunity to do it again.

The principles to act on in the mentoring process (1Thes 1:5) should include a plan involving effective Bible reading, memorizing, and meditation. Personally, in order to have a fresh understanding of a portion, I write a poem or a devotional paragraph or two to help me get the true effect of the passage and then be able to interpret it correctly. This keeps the Word of God from just being a book to study; rather it becomes a personal word from my gracious Father. To help others we mentor, a progress report is needed with structure defined, and expectations clearly expressed. Problems always arise in the work of the Lord and the mentoring process is no exception. Don’t jump to solutions without giving plenty of time for the person being mentored to find an answer or even part of an answer as they read the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit gives understanding. Encourage the need to solve problems with the guidance of God alone. To link the promises of God to problems means we need to open our emotions in prayer together. Specific prayer for the lost, for believers, for the nations, and for ourselves needs openness and honesty before God. Frank, open conversations out loud with God helps those being mentored to become practical in prayer and in the projects before them.

Hosea states, “My people are destroyed (perish) for lack of knowledge” (4:6). It seems like there are those who know the answers but don’t know the problems. This is part of the work of the mentor. Knowledge is not just being aware of the facts, but knowing experimentally the issues involved in the work of the Lord and how to come to Biblical conclusions to those things to which God has called us.

God’s work needs people to get connected with other people. The protocol to follow in mentoring is similar to gospel preaching. First, clearly define the problem. Second, give the solution so there is no misunderstanding. Third, focus attention on that solution. Finally, urge people to action.

There are mentoring examples in the Scriptures. See if you can identify at least ten. Begin with the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 3:13-19). He wanted the disciples He chose to be “with Him.” Paul had Timothy serving “with me in the gospel” (Phil 2:22). Timothy was to be “with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2Tim 2:22). If you feel the need of mentoring, make it known. If you sense a sincere desire on the part of one to be more committed to the Lord, communicate with them your interest in helping them grow in the Lord.