As a student preparing for ministry I am coming to a greater realization that having a mentor who is in ministry is vitally important. The set of verses that constantly come to mind are the words Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV) Listen to how Paul speaks to Timothy; he calls him my child, showing such a deep loving relationship. We know from human standards that a father is to teach his children how to live in all aspects of life. We need mentors the same way we need to have fathers in our lives to set the patterns for us to follow. Without them we have the tendency to go astray.
The relationship of mentoring is not a one-way street; it is one that branches off to others. We should be learning from our disciple maker while at the same time taking what we are being taught and teaching it to other men (and women) in the faith. In order to be in a disciple making relationship it requires work to be put in, along with time. Jesus invested his time in twelve men whom he would send out into the world to teach others. He not only sent out twelve but at one point he sent out seventy-two men two by two (Luke 10:1). The best way for us to be sent is by a man we are learning from so we can implement what is being taught.
What does a mentor look like? A mentor is going to look different for each person; you may not have just one mentor in you life or at one point of time. There will be areas in life that you need to have the footsteps of someone else to follow whether it be in a hobby, in your profession, or in general guidance for your life. This person should be some type of authority on the subject; not necessarily having to have credentials but having done a what ever it is you are seeking them for a period of time with a good track record. You do not want to start following after someone or seeking their help when they have no idea how to handle the struggles you are facing because they have just started the activity themselves.
Do you have an idea on how this association should look? It is imperative that when you enter into a formal mentoring relationship that some standards be set. The type of standards I am referring to are like how often will there be contact made, what forms of contact are best for this relationship. What kind of accountability is going to be set in place if any at all? Are you both going to keep this association merely about the mentoring/disciple making or is this going to become more of an intimate friendship where lives overlap?
I would recommend depending on the type of commitment being made, that lives become intertwined with an at least weekly (if not several times a week) contact. It does not matter where the contact comes from be it a phone call, text message, social media interaction. And no less than once a month interaction face to face in a setting that is not sterile, but inviting conversation and allows the relationship to feel more organic and real.
It is my hope that this work will inspire you to strengthen those relationships that are in place and to possibly form new ones. I leave you with this who is investing in you and who has the Lord placed on you heart to invest into?