By Megan Rawlings
I was mentoring a new believer who was struggling to make good decisions and choices. As her mentor, I knew I had to personally address this issue with her. I thought the best approach to this uncomfortable conversation was to ask her to meet for lunch.
When the day arrived, she sat across from me at the table, oblivious to the reason for my invitation. Our upcoming discussion had the potential to turn negative. But, through God’s grace and intervention, by the time lunch ended my mentee had a new outlook on Christlike living.
Was it difficult? Absolutely. Was it necessary? Definitely. The good news is that it’s not up to us to change someone. Simply put, we can’t. Our calling is to introduce others to what Scripture says and then, through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, assist them in navigating the challenges of life.
Yes, being a mentor can be frustrating and scary. Nevertheless, God calls us to help train up younger women. “In this way they can train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, managers of their households, kind, and subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be discredited” (Titus 2:4, Berean Study Bible). The word young in Greek is neos; it refers not to age, but to something that is recently born . . . something that is new and young. So, in this case, it means new Christian women who are young in their faith.
So, here’s the question many will ask: “How do I mentor?”
Here are four steps to help you get started with mentoring:
1. Before you mentor anyone, clarify your personal expectations.
2. Ask your mentee about their expectations.
3. Set your personal boundaries. (This can be awkward, but it is essential. My schedule can be crazy; any person I mentor must be flexible. For example, if my husband needs me, that takes priority. In doing this, I am following the guidance of Titus 2:4.)
4. Have an agenda.
‘PHYSICIAN, HEAL YOURSELF’
A mentor should already be living out the advice she plans to give. Most everything is easier said than done, but it is vital that a mentor “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.” It can be incredibly helpful to read through Proverbs and learn the advice the inspired writer gave us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Correcting people and pointing out their imperfections shouldn’t be personally gratifying. If you feel better about yourself when you are pointing out mistakes in others, then you shouldn’t be mentoring. (To further clarify, if “I told you so” is one of your go-to phrases, please seek another church role.)
A woman who is working under your guidance to learn to become a more mature Christian regards you as her safe place. Show her grace and mercy the same way Jesus shows us these vital characteristics every single day.
LEAD IN GRACE AND TRUTH
One of my favorite verses is, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, English Standard Version). There is a lot going on in this verse, but focus on the words grace and truth. They are next to one another because they must be used together.
We are called to tell the truth in all circumstances: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). Scripture also says, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Telling someone they are a sinner can be offensive. That’s why living in truth and grace requires acknowledgement that we are sinners. Therefore, we need to tell the truth with grace and in love. As mentors, when we approach conversations in this manner, our words are much more likely to be well received.
In this day, there is no such thing as a perfect human mentor, but that’s not what God expects of us. He just wants us to help his children learn more about him. The first step is always the hardest and scariest, but we have comfort in knowing God is walking with us.
Megan Rawlings is the founder and CEO of The Bold Movement. She is an extrovert, pastor’s wife, and lover of the Scriptures.