The Nuts and Bolts of Mentoring
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
The Tall Stranger
He floats from job to job, and is happiest doing nothing but telling
stories. Whispers were on the lips of many people in a river town about a
arrival. The young man found some odd jobs for income. Barely able to read and
the fellow was pleasant, told some great stories, and was fun to be around.
Discovering that a local school teacher was renting rooms, the young man paid
for room and board. He might have noticed the vacant room as he inquired about
a sprightly girl entering the house. Ann was under the care and tutelage of
teacher-mentor Graham and his wife. In that environment a master teacher was
linked, by mentoring, with a young man looking for help in grammar and
speaking. And the world would be different.
Years later Mr. Graham sat in the bleachers at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
He had traveled to see the inauguration of the new President of the United
States. The tall man on the platform looked down, searching the noisy crowd for
some recognition of a friend. Spotting Mr. Graham, he yelled for him to come
and sit on the platform. Speechless, with hat in hand, Mr. Graham pushed
through the crowd, mounted the steps, and was hugged by his former grammar
Three years later that President was deep in thought, speeding to Pennsylvania
on a train. He wrote a few sentences on the back of an envelope for his speech.
That two minute talk became unforgettable. His sentence construction had been
carefully taught, even hammered into, a newly motivated rail-splitter who
learned both grammar and surveying from Mentor Graham.
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth a new nation. .
Mr. Graham died years after the murder of his pupil, having taught school for
50 years. A local obituary column recalled the faithfulness of the old man, and
his mentoring that marked the life of Abraham Lincoln by transforming his
writing, then his speaking style.
This story touches me as I think of the Lincolns around the globe
waiting to be mentored. Nothing I've done in 40 years of ministry has been as
rewarding to me as intensive mentoring. The time has produced fruit
who have surpassed and multiplied my own ability. The
men's movement has emphasized the Biblical concept that everyone needs to
mentor someone, and that all need a mentor.
Questions About Mentoring
What is mentoring?
Dr. Robert Clinton defines mentoring as
a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing
There are three intensive kinds of mentors: Coach, Spiritual Guide, Discipler.
The three occasional mentors are: Teacher, Counselor, and Sponsor.
Remember a person who taught and encouraged you in a skill or project?
Think of that teacher in school who gave you special attention. You'll never
forget his/her name. Possibly a relative made you feel valuable, opened a
door for you, or shared resources. Mentoring, again.
The Lord Jesus, Paul, and Barnabas are prime models of this powerful
relationship in the New Testament. Old Testament mentors include Moses who
spent time with Joshua at God's command (see
). Later, Elijah made time for a seeking Elisha who asked and received twice
the miracle power of his mentor.
How does one begin?
You may establish a mentoring relationship by passing on your special
God-given resource helping another person learn mechanics,
cooking, computers, first aid, or Bible study methods and problem solving
through Scripture. It may involve a few meetings of informal listening, or just
being available to encourage. Or, you could end up building a lifetime relationship
that may fully demonstrate the term intimate friend. In each case,
you set the parameters.
How does it work?
Mentoring involves a relationship around a common area of interest or
commitment. Some relationships just happen; others are established by the
mentor or mentoree. The stronger the relationship, however, the greater the
transfer of skills or spiritual focus.
Older people have a natural opportunity to impact someone younger with their
experiences, and to grow wealthy with new friends in the process. Age isn't the
criteria, however loving and sharing is. Nothing pays off in a lifetime
quite like investing in other people. Some relationships aren't productive,
but most mentoring relationships surpass our wildest dreams. You receive more
than you give.
To grow in a relationship
should be clearly spelled out on both sides. An agreed-upon purpose helps
mentoring to progress positively. Jesus gave His requirements in strong, bold
. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross daily, and follow me
What is the length of time commitment?
Being open about expectations is essential for a long relationship. When doing
coaching or discipling-mentoring, meeting weekly is standard. The less
intensive mentoring of a sponsor, teacher, or counselor does not
always require that regularity. At the start, you should have a goal in mind,
or a fixed time commitment, instead of leaving it open-ended. For instance,
meet together until the next major holiday. When one must bow out, leave the
door open for further fellowship.
gives mentoring its strength of transmission. One of the most loving things
anyone can do is to not let you get away with mediocrity. The mentor must model
well, and encourage with a balance of love, patience, and honesty. I typically
make short notes after meeting with a mentoree, recording prayer needs,
pressures revealed, and principles taught.
What do you do?
Seek to introduce your mentoree to a strong devotional life, including
Scripture memory and its meditation. Model in your life the specific
application of Scripture. Also, learn and practice a witnessing tool. If time
permits, do a joint project of ministry. My mentoring goal is to see the
mentoree loving Jesus Christ, in obedience to His Word, and responding, through
the Spirit, in Christ-like character. And with every area I cover, I always ask
myself: How can I help him reproduce what he's learned? Is this
pass-on-able to those
will mentor? Model what you want him to learn and be. You'll experience
the teaching power of the Holy Spirit and begin multiplying your life
1 Paul D. Stanley & J. Robert Clinton,
Connecting: the Mentoring Relationships You Need To Succeed In Life
(Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1992), p. 12.