So, I’ve been reading a lot this year. I have a goal of averaging one book per week. But I had a stark realization in the last couple of weeks. The reading has been helpful, but only to me. The books haven’t really begun impacting my congregation or you readers at all.
So, here is a quick overview of the things I took away from ‘Mentor For Life’ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Please note, these are my interpretations and impressions, and so they are subject to my biases.
Main Point: The church needs to recapture it’s focus on discipleship, particularly through mentoring relationships.
On why mentoring is important:
- Evangelism and mentoring need to be paired to help people develop into mature Christians. True disciples should be drawn to evangelize, while new believers need help being formed in the faith.
- Spiritual growth and maturity doesn’t happen by accident.
How to Mentor:
- The mentoring relationship need to be authentic. It should show the ‘real’ side to faith – the doubts, frustrations, struggles, and so on.
- As mentors and church leaders, we need to clearly define success; or else the world or our mentored will define it themselves.
- This success should be determined by their spiritual vitality and growth. How you want to define and examine that is up to you, but the goal is not numeric growth – the point isn’t the number of mentored people you have underneath you, but the quality of growth they experience.
- When we define ‘success’, we should be clear that mentoring is only for a season. Discipleship is a journey, and not a final destinationBe clear, from the beginning, with your mentored about the commitment level and expectations.
- Use the spiritual disciplines – prayer, reading scripture, fasting, journaling, etc. These help you gain momentum in your growth, and allow you to go deeper in your faith and relationship.
Things to Remember:
- We are not the ones responsible for success or failure in mentoring; that is up to God. We need to remember that from the very beginning.
- Mentoring is supposed to be a mutual relationship, one of give and take. The exchange of wisdom and information may be a little lop sided at times, but it is always meant to be a ‘free exchange’ of wisdom back and forth.
- Leaders MUST mentor.
- Push for growth. We are more capable than we often give ourselves credit for. Parents don’t groom their children for ‘low expectations’; coaches don’t tell their kids to “do alright”. Christians shouldn’t either.
- Your goal as a mentor is to help do the following things: 1) Help someone draw closer to God, 2) draw them closer to others, and 3) help them draw closer to their “best” selves.
- Get some diversity in your mentoring. You can learn a lot from people coming from different backgrounds than you.
Over all, the book is a good overview of the importance of mentorship programs within churches. It serves as a good introduction to the topic, laying out some solid guidelines for developing a program within your church, or if you’re thinking about doing it on your own. If, however, you’re a pastor, this material may prove a little too basic or introductory. Much of what the author said felt fairly intuitive to me, but then again, this concept is far from new for me.
The book serves it’s role well, introducing people to the concept of mentorship.