Christian Mentor Transforms People
By Dr. Jeff Myers
Becoming a Christian mentor is a powerful way of exerting a life-on-life influence on people so that they can be transformed. It works—even in the secular realm. Here’s the evidence:
Mentoring works in business: 71% of companies surveyed said that mentoring is a key way they make learning occur in their organizations.1
- Mentoring works for “at risk” kids: Mentored youth have better attendance, a better chance of going on to higher education, better attitudes towards school, stronger ability to avoid substance abuse, more positive social attitudes and relationships, and greater trust of, and communication with, parents.2
Christian Mentor - Principles for Successful Mentoring
There are several significant principles that Christian mentors and coaches must follow. Failing to follow these principles risks failure in the mentoring relationship:
Give an assignment. Whether you initiate a mentoring relationship or a potential protégé initiates it, it is wise to give a simple assignment to establish the seriousness of the relationship and test your potential protégé’s level of commitment.
You are not a parent or a counselor. Your goal as a mentor is not to take the place of a parent or to solve a person’s emotional or psychological problems. Be discerning about the proper ground for mentoring. Be wise about when professional counseling is needed.
Your goal as a mentor is to minister. Mentoring is not a way to meet your needs for significance, but to walk with others as they grow and become like Christ. Your goal as a mentor should never be to shape your mentorees into your image, but to encourage them to bear God’s image more fully.
God brings about change. Mentoring is not your opportunity to implement your agenda in the life of another person. It is your opportunity to walk with another person as God shapes him into His image.
Leaders take responsibility. Both the mentor and protégé should take responsibility to meet on time, be prepared, and commit to growth. Ask your protégé to take responsibility for contacting you, changing meeting times, and setting goals for the relationship.
Christian Mentor - Sharing Truth with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Hear It
When some people think of passing the baton to the next generation, they say, “But the next generation doesn’t want to hear it. They’re not open to wise counsel.” In a certain sense, that’s true. However, as a communications professor, I’ve come to learn that sometimes this uncertainty has more to do with how the truth is presented than the truth itself. For instance, if you start a conversation with “If I were you I would...” or “When I was your age...” you’re likely to be shut out. A helpful analogy is to think of truth as a beam from a flashlight. If someone shines a flashlight in your face, it’s confrontational and even threatening. But if a person points the flashlight beam down the rocky trail you’ll be treading, you feel relief and gratefulness.
Here are some simple conversation openers. Use these to convince others of the truth not by explaining the truth, but by showing what difference it makes to embrace the truth.
- “May I tell you about a personal experience that might make the way clearer for you?”
- “May I share something with you in a spirit of love?”
- “I’ve had an experience that might shed some light on your current situation, and I’d be happy to share it if you’re interested.”
- “I know of another way that might work. Would you like to hear it?”
- “Please listen very carefully for a moment. I have something I’d like to tell you that could have a big influence on your life.”
- “Could you meet my eyes for a moment? There’s something very important I want to tell you.”
- “So much depends on what I’m about to share with you. Please give me your full attention.”
Christian Mentor - Why Should I Follow You?
As a Christian mentor, that’s a legitimate question being asked by everyone you’re trying to influence. The answer depends on your credibility.
Credibility comes from the word “credo” or “trust.” More than two thousand years ago the philosopher Aristotle wrote that a person’s credibility isn’t built-in. Rather, potential followers give leaders credibility depending on how well those leaders answer three questions:
Ethos: Will you treat me with dignity and integrity?
Pathos: Are you capable of going to bat for what is really important?
Logos: Do you know what you are talking about?
How can you build credibility with your followers?
- Be authentically interested.
- Communicate with integrity.
- Never passively accept what is in your power to change.
- Follow God’s leading.
- Draw on the experience of others.
- Seek out opportunities for training and networking.
Note about the author:
Dr. Jeff Myers is the president of Passing the Baton International, a non-profit organization with the mission of mobilizing one million adults to personally and intentionally mentor, coach and disciple the next generation of culture-shaping leaders. He is also Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Please visit his website at: www.passingthebaton.org
1 George Benson, “Battle of the Buzzwords,” Training and Development, 1997, v. 51, p. 7.
2 Susan M. Jekielek, Kristin A. Moore, Elizabeth C. Hair, and Harriet J. Scarupa, “Mentoring: A Promising Strategy for Youth Development, February 2002, Child Trends Research Brief. Go to www.childtrends.org for more information.
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