By James Holland
Examples of Mentorship
Joshua is a great example of the product of a good mentor. Exodus17:9-11 gives us some insight into his life. Joshua was not only a good leader; he was also a good follower. Moses mentored Joshua. Joshua was a warrior and a man of courage. Joshua was willing to receive instruction. He understood spiritual authority. Joshua was always just a few steps behind Moses. Moses never had to look for Joshua or wonder where in the world he was. He was there!
The story of Elijah and Elisha is another great example of mentorship. Look at II Kings 2. Elisha was being trained to continue the work of God and in an even greater way than Elijah. The mantle of Elijah was laid upon Elisha. The mantle of God in our lives is never to be hung upon the wall of our lives as trophy. It is to be passed on. Mentorship secures the fact that God’s work will continue on from one generation to another. We must not just be great leaders; we must continue to produce great leaders!
Jesus – The Great Example
As a mentor we are building people. We need to make sure that we are depositing some good in someone each day. Give them a personal challenge. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” He is simple saying “Don’t waste your life; make it count!” Give to those whom you are mentoring confidence. Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in faith.”
We all need confidence. When you know that someone believes in you, it brings out your best. Jesus did this with Peter. Peter’s name, Petros, meant “pebble.” Yet, Jesus said, “Pebble, you are going to be a Rock! I am giving you a new name.” When Jesus said that to Peter, the future apostle was anything but a rock. He was mister foot-in-mouth. But Jesus didn’t tell him what he was, but rather told him what he could be. He gave him confidence to live up to his potential. Jesus also helped Peter through his time of failure. Everybody has times of failure, simply meaning that things don’t turn out like you had hoped.
William Arthur Ward wrote, “Failure is not fatal. Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It should challenge us to new heights of accomplishments, not pull us down to new depths of despair. From honest failure can come valuable experience.”
When Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to accompany Him to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer, all three failed in their pursuit of prayer. This was the one time Jesus was really depending upon them. Yet, we see in Matthew 26:46 how Jesus responded to their failure. Jesus said, “Rise, let us be going.” He is simply saying, “Even though you didn’t handle this properly, there is much to do in order for my will to be done. So let’s be going.” Don’t waste days, weeks, months or even years over a failure. God has a will for our lives.
Keep giving honest counsel to those whom you are mentoring. Proverbs 27:6 says, “A friend means well even when he hurts you.” As leaders, we need to be strong enough to receive honest counsel, even when it is painful. If, however, you are a mentor who is always pointing out faults, you need to stop. Proper correction is a powerful tool. Yet, it can be a dangerous tool if used the wrong way. The main difference between the right way and the wrong way to correct is attitude.
As a mentor, when we correct someone, the purpose has to be just - to correct - not to condemn. We must ask ourselves, “What is my motive in this? Am I correcting them for my benefit or for their benefit?”
Many times we simply want to correct people just because they are acting like a jerk and giving us a difficult time. Yet, if we correct them only for this reason and not because they are not doing their best, then we have the new wrong motive. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Speak the truth in love.” Love means giving people what they need rather than what they deserve. The key to proper correction is to affirm the person and correct the behavior. This is what Jesus always did.
Give them full credit. Jesus said to Peter, “I give you the keys to the kingdom.” And again, “When thou art converted, strengthen the brethren.” It’s human nature to want to share the blame while keeping the credit. Yet God says the mark of maturity is to accept the blame and share the credit.
Jesus also taught us to build people off their strengths and not their weaknesses. He could see the strengths in people that they did not even know they had. To those who followed Jesus, his mentoring brought them maturity, trust, responsibility, and relationship. They went on to make such an impact upon their world and God’s kingdom. You might be mentoring a twenty-first century Peter or John right now. There is only one way you will ever know. Continue on doing the will of God, sometimes with tears in our eyes, in spite of bruises, cuts and scrapes, climbing over the mountains, betrayals and some failures we must continue on. Jesus has called us to do so.
An excerpt from the book Developing the Ministry Within You by James Holland
Rev. James Holland is a pastor, teacher and conference speaker. He is also involved in leadership training. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He and his wife Shirline live in Glenville, GA where they have been serving as pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church for over twenty years.