In bringing this second part of my two part commentary on mentoring
to the table, let me reflect back to a few highlights of part one:
*Mentoring begins in the HOME. Parents are the FIRST mentors in an
individual’s life. IF parents DO NOT parent--for whatever reason--it is going
to be harder for any individual to accept the advice, counsel, and wisdom of
other successful adults throughout their lifetime. They have no reference
*True mentoring DOES contain biblical counsel. If the mentor does not have a
firm foundation in their OWN spiritual life--meaning that their walk has to
square firmly with their talk--the advice they give CAN be suspect.
*The one being mentored has to realize that they must ACT on sound advice.
If the person does not want to act on the truths given to them, the
relationship is a waste of time. A mentor is only brought into a person’s life
for a period of time. The individual and the mentor must eventually part ways, as
the individual has to walk their own road.
MOVING ONWARD--WITH A WARNING:
Mentoring is not a biblical term, but a man-made creation. However, it
is rooted in two very biblical concepts: disciple-making and shepherding. As I
also mentioned in the first column, while there are many cases of men helping
women, and women helping men in the scriptures, the bottom-line responsibility
for ‘mentoring’ young men and young women rests with parents AND older men and
older women, which is contained in the Book of Titus, Chapter Two.
Now, I do realize that there are a host of social programs scattered about
society designed to bring mentors and students together. It seems that there
are always people who need mentoring, but few mentors available. At the risk of
offending those who are involved with these programs, let me throw a little
reality into the mix.
Some social programs are not needed because they ‘duplicate’ existing
relationships. True mentoring is going on all the time, without the sanction of
focus groups, government programs, and social engineering. As a matter of fact,
if I may be so bold, some social programs exist mainly to enrich those who RUN
them. The more bodies that the program leaders and workers can reach; the
better their statistics look at grant renewal time.
However the downside to this appears in THEIR OWN HOMES.
I know many a social worker, psychologist, or worship leader who has
neglected the responsibility of raising their OWN kids, to help someone else.
By the time they look back at their homes, their kids are pregnant, strung out
on drugs, or locked up.
If one’s HOME is not in order, how can one ‘claim’ to be helping the
community? Even in the scriptures, one of the requirements for leadership is
one need to have a stable home life.
I know that I’ve stepped on a few toes, and I’ll probably get some very
interesting emails from those involved in such programs. But I would invite
them to read me out before blasting away on their keyboards.
In the view of the late Russell Kelfer of DTM Ministries out of Texas, true
mentoring takes place in a one on one, or one to a few setting. The mentor must
have sufficient time--possibly a lifetime--to pour their knowledge and wisdom
into an individual or select group of individuals. Mentors do not ‘punch a clock’.
GOING BACK IN TIME:
Some of today’s social program leaders probably don’t remember another
‘grand’ experiment that took place a few years ago in the arena of education.
That being the removal of the Bible from the public education process.
A decade after that, corporal punishment along with teacher authority were
quietly ushered out the door. A decade after that, parental authority was shown
out the same doorway. A decade after that…the first in-school shootings took
Instead of the social engineers admitting that they were wrong, and bringing
everything back in, the talk of ‘school vouchers’ has taken center stage.
So much for the wisdom of those who design social programs.
As I mentioned in the first column, there are long-term mentors, and short-term
mentors. Parents are the first mentors, and they would be classed as long-term.
When parents--married or single--are encouraged to do their jobs in the
home, successful young people are a natural byproduct. No social program on
earth can duplicate the love, care, and discipline of a parent.
There are also short-term mentors with long-term impact.
Teachers fall into this category. So do college professors and graduate
There is advice and counsel I have received from more than a handful of
teachers and professors, which has--and continues--to serve me well as a ‘grown
up’. The need for being punctual. The need to stand your ground when folks
don’t agree with you. The movement into a profession or vocation that you are
truly gifted to become a part. How to wait patiently should one find their
career path blocked, or stopped by unplanned reversals. Having pride in your
race and your people. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
When teachers are given the chance and authority to do their jobs, success
No social program on earth can successfully duplicate a dedicated educator.
PLENTY OF MENTORS--IN THE CHURCH:
If I may continue, no social program can replace the impact of being
mentored by a church family. One can read about how the Christian life is TO be
lived in the Bible (KJV). However, one can best LEARN the examples of biblical
truth from men and women who have given their lives to Christ, and who are
active members IN the local church!
As I mentioned before, part of the mentoring equation is spiritual. One
cannot neglect the spiritual in the mentoring process. Otherwise, you will have
a severe shortfall in one’s knowledge pool.
*Male pastors teach, instruct, and lead younger male ministers.
*Older laymen teach, instruct and lead younger laymen.
*Older women teach, instruct and lead younger women.
*Older singles work with younger singles.
*Older married couples work with younger married couples.
Some of this work takes months--or even years--before sound fruit is
harvested from the orchard of life. Now, I might not be the brightest bulb on
the tree. However, it seems clear that there is success when the church is
allowed to function as set down through clear, biblical instruction, without
the aid, or intrusion of society, social programs, or focus groups.
TRUE MENTORS--NOT LIMITED BY SEX:
Before I get to the ‘meat’ of this month’s column, let me toss this in
as well. Husbands CAN mentor wives, and vice versa! In fact, men CAN mentor
women, and women CAN mentor men, in what could be called those ‘clutch’
Paul was mentored for a season by Aquilla and Priscilla, an upright (not
uptight) husband and wife. King David was mentored by Abigail. In short,
brothers, IF the Lord sends a wise woman across your path, listen and act upon
Now, let me break this down for better consumption.
Brothers, a truly wise woman CAN come across your path with sound advice,
counsel, and wisdom. Listen to what she has to say, because she can save you
from needless pain and suffering. The same can be said about a wise brother
coming across the path of a needy woman with sound advice, counsel, and wisdom.
Women know WOMEN! Men know MEN!
To the sisters who read my column: IF a brother tells you to ‘stay away’
from a man who may have ‘captured your fancy’, I would LISTEN to him, and act
upon it! There are a HOST of upright, brave, and wise women out on the horizon
who have the ‘chops’ to tell it like it is! My wife is at the HEAD of my ‘short
list’ of advisors. Nuff Said!
THE DUTY OF A MENTOR:
According to Kelfer, here are a few items--from the scriptures--that a
mentor MUST do in order to be considered successful. I’ll be happy to
*A willingness to let the person being mentored GO. Meaning that the
mentor’s job ends when it is time to let that individual go out and DO what
they have been trained to do. (Example: Moses and Joshua).
*A willingness to provide biblical TRUTH. Sure, war stories are nice…but
training someone else to fight life’s battles on their own is the main
objective. The person being mentored is NOT a carbon copy of the mentor; but
has been carefully taught the truth of what they will be facing in life.
(Example: Mordicai and Esther).
*Modeling of an upright and uncompromising life. One cannot mentor via long
distance. A mentor has to let individuals IN CLOSE for not only instruction,
but also up-close observation. It is one thing to tell someone how to handle
something. It is another to let them SEE how YOU handle the matter you are
trying to convey. (Example: Barnabas and Paul).
*Modeling of character in the face of adversity. This is where the rubber
meets the road. How the mentor handles disappointment, tragedy, loss, reversal,
and loneliness is the fuel that gives the one being mentored the strength to go
on. (Example: Naomi and Ruth).
*Correction and encouragement are two sides of the same coin. If you spot
bad behavior, the mentor has a duty to let their charge know about it, and call
them on it. On the other side of the coin, don’t make the load on your charge
so heavy that they are in a hurry to drop it, and get away from you. (Naomi to
Ruth as Boaz comes into view).
THE DUTY OF ONE BEING MENTORED:
Some, but not all of the following items come from the book ‘Smart
Moves’ by Lyle Sussman and Sam Deep. The duo also wrote ‘Smart Moves for People
in Charge’ and ‘Yes, You Can’. All three books are a part of my library. I will
also paraphrase some of their thoughts:
*Loyalty. A person being mentored cannot afford to harbor a spirit of
ingratitude towards their mentor. They also cannot give in to ‘gossip’ or
‘innuendo’ that happens to surface about their mentor, especially IF the mentor
happens to be of the opposite sex.
*Professionalism. A person being mentored must keep the relationship above
board, and be aware that the mentor also has their own responsibilities and
tasks to perform.
*Punctuality and Observation. Be on time, or have the flexibility of time
when your mentor is going to show you something, or teach you how to do
something. Sometimes, a mentor may call you in for a ‘session’ before or after
*Respect. At all times, respect your elders who are taking the time to train
you. The times may change, but ‘Old School’ rules concerning respect NEVER
change, nor go out of style.
*Reflection. Take the time to ‘chew on’ what you have been taught. It may
come in large chunks, or small portions. The biblical admonition: Write it down
and make it plain so that you truly grasp what you have been taught.
*Gratitude. Always take the time to thank those who have helped you ‘grow
up’ and mature. They didn’t have to invest time in you; they did it because
they saw something in you that inspired them to get involved with your life.
*Becoming a mentor. Eventually, you will have the opportunity to ‘pass on’
what you have learned to another individual or small, select group of
individuals. Don’t hesitate when the chance comes. Take the time to charge,
encourage, and strengthen a young person coming up behind you. After
all--someone took a chance on you!
ANOTHER TERM FOR MENTORING:
Hopefully, these columns have shed a little light on the topic.
However, I did want to save the best for last, as we head for a close in our
time together this month. I will sum it up in one statement: True mentors are
What good does it do for a successful man or woman, be they parent, teacher,
or businessman to keep their ‘secrets of success’ with them when they go to the
grave? Part of our modern day problem rests in the need to match example and
training with information. We have far too much information, and far too few
people either willing to break it down for easier consumption, or learn what
the information means through one-on-one experience.
Brothers, a mentor is NOT going to chase you down and attempt to share their
wisdom with you. One has to be ready to be ‘found’, and willing to learn. It
begins with the right attitude, and the humility to admit that there are few
things that you need to learn along this road we call Real Life. By the same
token, those mentors who are ready to teach need to ‘step out’ and pour that
wisdom sorely needed in our modern day.
As I mentioned before--mentoring starts in the home, and spreads outward
into society. Society cannot dictate to the home. Real mentors come from the home,
and impact the school, the church, and then society. One person at a time.