The Vision for Mentoring

  • Don Payne
  • Oct 19, 2006

As we begin another school year, it's a good time to step back and reflect on the heartbeat of mentoring. Why are we doing this anyway? In some settings mentoring is only expected to enhance vocational proficiency and open career doors. In other settings mentoring focuses on building a healthy self-image and breaking away from dysfunctional patterns. Your mentoring relationship with a Denver Seminary student may involve these and other objectives, depending on the individual student's ministry calling, gifts, experiences, spiritual maturity, and personal needs. However, a more central vision propels mentoring relationships. 

In The Mentored Life, James M. Houston contends that for Christians, mentoring is the formation of persons (not just individuals) for the kind of community we find in our triune God; Father, Son, and Spirit in eternal, interdependent, loving relationship. For those headed into any form of Christian ministry mentoring takes us beyond an individual fulfillment to formation for relationship and ministry. It prompts us to think theologically about what we're trying to accomplish in the time we spend with students.

God is about the business of redeeming and building a people - a community - with whom He can have intimate relationship. Everyone preparing for ministry, regardless of the role, must be able to contribute to the kind of Biblical community where people can express and experience God's holy, life-giving love.

What do our student mentorees need from us as mentors in order to build the kind of community that reflects our triune God? Perhaps they do not have a personal history of healthy relationships and need to experience that community for themselves. We can invite them into our lives. We can let them know how their lives contribute to our own lives. We can trust and affirm them. We can reflect together on the nature of Biblical community and how our ministries contribute to it. Perhaps they don't know themselves well or believe that they can really be used by God. We can believe in them when they cannot believe in themselves and let them know of their imprint on our own lives as mentors. 

Real community is more than knowing our neighbors or enjoying friendships. The source of real community is our triune God. Its character must reflect God's character. Its energy is God's redeeming grace. Effectiveness in ministry involves living and building this kind of community. That requires far more than a certain personality type or relational style. It demands character and skills that are forged in relationship with mentors who share that passion.

We are grateful for your willingness to invest as a mentor in a student and, as a result, in God's Kingdom through that student. We pray for you as you pursue this path with your mentoree. Would you also pray for us and for the other mentors as we all seek by God's grace to train leaders to fulfill their callings?