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-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net GodSpeak International [http://www.godspeak.net/]
Editor: Alison Bowling

Mentors and Mentoring

by Teresa Seputis

Lesson 1

What is a mentor?

You have an interest in learning more about prayer and intercession. And you may be wondering, 'What on earth does mentoring have to do with intercession?" If you are new to intercession, you might want to know if being mentored is something that you will find helpful. If you are fairly experienced in the area of prayer and intercession, you may be wondering if you should consider becoming a mentor and helping others to learn to become effective intercessors.

What I would like to do in this three week series is to look a bit at the topic of mentors, and discuss how that topic relates to prayer and intercession.

What Is A Mentor?

Let's start by defining what a mentor is. Here are a few dictionary definitions of "mentor":

A person who gives another person help and advice over a period of time and often also teaches them how to do their job.

- Cambridge Dictionary

A wise and trusted guide and adviser.

- Wordnet Vocabulary Helper

A trusted counselor or teacher to (another person).

- American Heritage Dictionary

A more senior or experienced colleague appointed to help and advise a junior employee.

- AND Concise Dictionary

I really like this last definition because it points out a very important fact. A mentor is not necessarily someone who has arrived. It is simply someone who is a few steps ahead of the person they are working with and they can help that person move forward towards the goal. In fact, a person who is only a little ahead of you will probably be able to help you more than someone who is tons ahead of you. That is because the person who is tons ahead of you may not remember back to the struggles you are going through and the questions you have. But someone who has recently been right where you are will be able to identify with your position. They will also be able to share what they did to move to the next step.

There is a myth about mentors that I would like to dispel from the very beginning of our discussion. A mentor is not necessarily the most advanced of prayer warriors. Rather a mentor is a person who is committed to helping others to grow in their gifting, to become more effective in prayer and intercession. A mentor may themselves still be in process and may in fact be mentored by someone else. But they are committed to reaching out to one or two others and helping them along. Mentoring is spending time with a person, getting to know them and helping them to improve. A mentor does not have to be an expert, they merely have to be a few steps ahead of the person they are mentoring. A mentor should still be growing themselves and they should still be making progress in their personal walk with God. Anyone who thinks they have arrived and has nothing else to learn is, in my estimation, a dangerous person to be mentoring others.

My husband and I used to compete in ballroom dancing. We took lessons from a professional who was himself a competitor. Ed and I competed as amateurs. Our teacher competed as a professional, and he usually took first or second place in the various international competitions he entered. He had a waiting list of people who wanted to take lessons from him. If anyone might be considered arriving in the area of ballroom dance, this man would be a good candidate. But did he just sit on his laurels and teach? No, he and his partner took lessons themselves from various other professional world champion dancers and retired world champions. They constantly strived to improve their dancing. Likewise, a mentor is one who is never satisfied in their own personal walk with God. They are always looking to grow in Him, to become more transformed to the image of Christ, to grow closer to God, to become more effective in prayer and spiritual warfare.

There is one thing God told me that has really stuck with me, regarding being a leader. He told me, don't get too far ahead of the people you are leading, or they won't be able to see you. He was speaking figuratively, telling me that I as I grow in Him, I must help others to grow as well, to "bring them up with me" so to speak. If I did not do this, then I would eventually get so far ahead of the people I was leading that they would not be able to identify with me any more.

Mentoring relationships must not be too unbalanced. Don't look for the world famous prayer warriors to be your mentor, unless you are almost at that level yourself. If you look for a mentor who is too far ahead of you, you may find yourself intimidated by that person, and that is not conducive to an effective mentoring relationship. Rather look for someone who, right now, is where you would like to be a year from now. That person will be a good candidate to mentor you, providing they are willing.

Why would someone want to have mentor?

We want a mentor so that we can get better at moving in our spiritual giftings and anointing. We want to better develop the character of Christ in our lives. We want someone who understands the questions we struggle with and who can share their insights with us.

There was a time when I was desperate for a mentor in the prophetic and none were available. I kept trying to put myself under people who were not really qualified to help me learn. It was a bit of a disaster, and it was frustrating. That was because I tried to jump ahead of God and get my own mentor instead of letting Him select one for me. But when God thrust me into the place of forming the prophetic school, He began to supply the mentoring resources that I needed. In other words, He brought a mentors along when I truly needed them to do what He called me to do.

What I am trying to say here is that we can want a mentor because it seems like a good idea to have one. But it is not a good idea to have a mentor until it is God's idea. However, God will not expect us to trudge forward totally on our own as we begin to walk out what He has called us to do. He will bring qualified people along to mentor us. We don't want "just any" mentor .. we want the mentor who God has selected for us.

On the flip side, you may find yourself in the position of being the mentor that God has selected to help someone else grow. You might want to ask God, "Are you nuts, Lord?? I am not mentor material. I have so much to learn myself!" Just remember, God's criteria for a mentor is not having fully arrived... it is being in process with Him and being willing to care about someone else and help them along. We certainly don't want to enter into a mentoring relationship that God has not ordained. But if you hold yourself back and disqualify yourself as a mentor when God is asking you to help someone out.. that person loses out by your resistance. They may be desperate for help in areas that you have already mastered. They may be struggling with questions that you have recently figured out. If God calls you to mentor someone, don't leave that poor person stranded. Be open to the possibility that God may have you help someone along while you are "en route" yourself.

Hints for success in a relationship with a mentor

  1. Don't look for someone too far ahead of you to be a mentor.
  2. Don't expect your current mentor to be your only or your life long mentor. God will bring along the people you need as you need them. At times I have had 2 or 3 mentors at once, other times only one or maybe even none. Some people who mentored me before do not mentor me now. You need to look to God in the arena of mentoring, not to your current mentor. Let God decide who and when and for how long.
  3. The mentor relationship needs to be mutually beneficial .. look for ways to make it beneficial. If you are the person being mentored, look for ways to help or assist your mentor in their life or work or ministry.
  4. Be teachable and demonstrate some initiative if you are the person being mentored. If you are the person doing the mentoring, offer suggestions and insights, but don't try to force or coerce the person into doing it your way. Give your mentee the "room" to make their own mistakes and learn from them when they need to do that.
  5. Mentorships usually form out of relationships. Don't look to total strangers who impress you. Look to those people where there is already some form of relationship.
  6. Deep friendships often (but now always) form from the mentor relationship.. a deep mutual caring for one another. It really works best when it is a mutual relationship, not a one-sided one.
  7. Deep respect and loyalty develops on the part of the mentee towards their mentor.
  8. There will occasionally be times of friction... the key is to treat each other with dignity/respect as you work through whatever issue has caused the tension.

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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