Choosing A Mentor

Myself, like so many other of my peers, are always contacted by individuals seeking a mentor. Recently, because of social media, I have been contacted by several individuals requesting that I be their mentor. This, obviously, led me to do some research and reading on mentorship.

Mentor was the name of the advisor of Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey. The etymology of the name means ‘advisor.’ A mentor is one who provides wise and experienced counsel.

Who qualifies to be a credible mentor? This is important because I have recently seen young preacher make some poor choices and ministry decisions that have left me and my colleagues asking each other: “who was he talking to?” We each know that erroneous advice can leave to erroneous action.

This is important in my life because I too am making some life-defining decisions. In doing so I have sought the advice not of my peers but of those who have either had similar experiences or have been in the pastorate long enough to provide wise counsel. They are older than myself and have the evidence in their personal lives and ministries.

So, when choosing a mentor, I think we should reflect on several things.

In the first place, a mentor is there to provide advice and not necessarily agree with your decision. If you are looking for someone who will agree with your every decision, you are not looking for a mentor. Mentors are there to provide wise advice.

This leads me to the second point. Good mentors provide helpful decisions to serve as a guide. I do not always answer questions. This is because a good mentor ask meaningful questions to help you arrive at a well thought-out decision.

Also, a good mentor challenges your soul and not your gift. When asked questions about expositional preaching regarding a particular text, I often respond quit reading for information and read for transformation. How is this text challenging you to make some hard decisions and life choices?

Finally, a good mentor is one with experience. Next year I will celebrate 25 years in the preaching ministry and 22 years in the pastorate. My mentors have served God and his people much longer than myself. I know the difference between peer and mentor.

Maybe its just me, but in this season, I want to be faithful to those who have requested of me a tremendous responsibility. I never want to be the answer in a negative context to the question: “Who was he or she talking too?”

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