Mentors are a powerful gift from God. They are mature and godly people who help and guide us toward inner and professional growth. They join us in a part of our life journey and walk closely with us. Mentors can come for a lifetime or a period of time. Their investment though remains forever with us.
In the Bible we see many mentors like Jethro, Moses father in law, whom we meet briefly but his impact on Moses leadership was very significant. In the book of Kings we see that the most succesful kings, those who walked closely with the Lord, and did what was good in the Lord’s eyes, were those who had alongside them a good and godly mentor who taught them the law of God. Most of the times the priests or prophets served as mentors for the kings. In the New Testament we would also see Jesus mentoring his disciples. We would see Barnaba mentoring Paul in his early journey as an apostle. Paul can be described as a mentor to Timothy.
For lack of guidance, a nation falls, but with many counselors comes deliverance.Proverbs 11:14
What about our days, how can we define a good mentor? I will share some of the qualities I think are very important when choosing a mentor.
A good mentor is one who is able to discern areas of growth, and celebrate progress in the life of the person they mentor. A good mentor is one who has wisdom and know how to ask good questions to understand where you are coming from. He is not quick to give his own advice, but seeks to understand how and where God is working in someone’s life. A godly mentor will always lead us to Christ as our ultimate Authority, Hope and Redeemer. He or she sees themselves as a vessel or tool in God’s hand so that His will may progress in your life.
In our days with the development of life coaching, professionals make a difference between mentoring and coaching as practices, still I do believe that asking good questions is always key to both.
While it is necessary for a mentor to have the gift of teaching, they are different from a teacher. A teacher is someone who imparts on you knowledge or wisdom. A mentor does not stop there. He walks with you to help you learn and propriate that knowledge or skill.
“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.” Proverbs 15:22
I love mentors who are listeners before giving advices. They observe, ask questions, try to understand before they jump to display their expertise or knowledge. I remember Sue, one of my wonderful mentors. In our first meeting she mostly listened. During the times that we would meet, Sue kept that posture of listening carefully, asking good questions to understand me better, and then she would suggest next step. As a young mom I was frustrated at times with my failures, but Sue was very quick and attentive to celebrate my progress. She would joyfully and gracefully help me focus on the progress by saying: Remember a few months ago you were struggling with ..; now that is not a struggle any more. You have progressed. That would break the cycle of discouragement and feeling like I was not moving forward.
Celebration of progress is very important in our growth in any area we are aiming to learn or master, either in our personal inner growth or our career. I love the paralel with learning to play an instrument. I love piano. Nobody though plays piano or another instrument overnight. No matter of your good will and desire, mastering an instrument or any skill is a journey. A journey where you progress step by step, a journey that requires discipline and committment. Failure is part of that journey too, but we should not dwell in the failure. Instead we should move forward by never giving up to learn. And a good mentor is a powerful gift from God in that journey.
I have the privilege to be blessed with several great mentors, who have invested in my life wholeheartedly, cheering on me in every victory, and giving me heart when I felt discouraged. They were the tangible care of God’s love to me, the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus in my life.
What about you? Do you have a mentor in your life? If not, who in your life can be a mentor