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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 3

The Practicalities of Mentoring

Wide Variety in Mentoring

There are as many varieties of mentors as there are varieties of flowers. Let's look at some of the variety.

Let us look at different types of mentors. There are three main types. Any given mentor may not be a "pure type" they may be a hybrid of a 2 or 3 of the types. But for simplicity's sake, I am going to discuss each type separately.

First, there is the "coach". A coach comes along side of you and watches you and makes helpful suggestions. They will have a general strategy, but their approach will seem more driven by what is going on in the mentee's life than by any type of structured format. When various things come along, they become the theme of the teaching. The mentor is present to coach the mentee through these things. They watch the mentee's style and make helpful suggestions for improvement. The mentee can come to them for help, ask questions, etc.

Then there is the teacher. A teacher is someone who has knowledge and experience to impart and who prefers a systematic manner of dispensing that information. They often require some work or study on the mentee's part. The mentor's agenda often follows a set program, and may not sync up too well with the independent events going on in the mentee's life. Their teaching and impartation is structured more around their syllabus, their idea of how things should be taught, than around the mentee's life situation. This is not to say they are rigid or unpractical. Rather they have a very specific agenda of topics to cover and a preferred order for covering them.

Third, we have the mentor who "takes an apprentice." They have a very hands-on style of teaching. They will get the person involved in some manner of "doing" right from the start. It will usually be something trivial to start with so that the mentee can build up their skill sets for the more critical things. This is basically "on the job training" and the mentee is given real work to do right form the start. The mentor will observe, similar to a coach, and offer feedback and correction. The feedback tends to be very specific to the task at hand rather than general principles, and later on this mentor may show how this is a general principle. There will often times be a great deal of practice between instructions. In other words, the apprentice is given a task to do, help when they first start out and then is left to do it for a while before being given a new task.

In addition to the different types of mentors, each mentor will have their own style of teaching and imparting. Some will have you read a lot of books, or do some research on your own, before they field your questions and issues. I am reminded of John Webster. The first time I asked him for advice, he suggested a book to me to read and gave me a few sentences of general advice for the situation. We did not discuss anything more until I'd finished reading the book, then we talked about it at length. Again, about four months ago, I asked John how can I stay balanced in the Lord when I am crazy busy.. and he suggested a couple of books to me on prioritization and organizing your time. (Of course, I have not had time to read them because I was so insanely busy, so we have not had any sort of followup discussion on that.)

Some mentors teach by sharing either their own experiences; or by telling you stories about someone else in a similar situation. Jim Wies is an incredible story teller. There have been many times when I have been stuck and maybe even in a bit of a panic about something. Jim would not tell me what to do. But he would share a story about a similar situation at CI or at his church. Then he would describe what that person did and share whether the result of their action was good or bad.

Some mentors like to teach by asking you leading questions to help you figure out the answers yourself. They may help you break down a complex issue into a few underlying issues. They may help you identify the underlying premise of your thinking, and then show you other ways of looking at the same situation. They will not usually give you a single answer, they will enlighten you to many possibilities and then ask key questions to help you make the right choices on your own.

A forth mentoring style is to throw you into situations that will make you apply what you have been learning in very practical terms. I did that to Lucy once. I volunteered her to go to the hospital and pray for an acquaintance of mine's brother. The brother was dying of cancer and Lucy was sent to pray for healing. I gave her a bit of guidelines and a couple of specific things to do and turned her loose. This ended up developing into a long term ministry relationship, and she was able to lead this dying man and his sister to the Lord. She also helped him out in any number of practical ways and was a real friend to him. I was available to Lucy for advice, counsel, debriefing, etc... but I did not tell her what to do. I did help her discern and sort out the instructions God was giving her, and she did hear Him and follow His leading. This ministry experience caused Lucy to grow in certain areas and I believe it was a confidence builder for her as well.

There is one thing that all of the mentor styles have in common. No matter which style the mentor uses, the mentor's goal is to try to get their mentee to hear God for themselves on issues.

Different Degrees of Relationship

The degree of defined relationship between mentor and mentee will vary. Some relationships will be very formal and the mentor is only available to the mentee within defined parameters. Other times there will be more of a friendship between the two, and they may be frequently available to each other. Let's look briefly at six different formats/degrees of relationship between mentor and mentee.

  1. Classes

    This structure is often used by those who train a group of several people at once. The members of the group learn from them on an ongoing basis. But the group members have little contact outside of the context of the class. The class may be long or short in duration. Let me give you an example.

    In seminary, C. Peter Wagner was one of my professors. His typical class was taught in an amphitheatre and had about 100 to 150 students. He was available to us in the classroom. We could raise our hands, be recognized and ask him questions. He would share his insights and wisdom with us and we would learn a great deal more than just what was on the syllabus of the class. Peter has been a very major influence on my life. But at the same time, Peter was only available to us in the classroom. We did not have his home phone number to call him and ask him questions. And once the semester was over, so was our access to Peter, unless we happened to enrol in another of his classes.

  2. Sharing a Common Relationship

    Occasionally available for advice because of another common relationship. This is often how more indepth mentoring relationships start. (That is not to say that every relationship that starts this way will develop into a more formal mentor relationship). But there are times when we have common ground with someone. Perhaps we go to the same church or we are in the same club or on the same email list. We can sometimes go to that person for advice or help because of our common relationship.

    Let me give you an example. A lot of my prophetic words are circulated on the Internet. Any given week, I get 4 or 5 emails from people who I have never met before. They are always in some desperate situation that would require 5 or 6 hours of my time to help them. I won't do that for total strangers or I would be sending 30 hours per week to help five strangers and have no time to get the ministry work done. If a list member asks me for advice and it is quick, I will try to help them. If it involves a lot of time, then I need God to quicken it to my heart to give them time. If He does not quicken it, I don't spend the time. (I wish I had time to help everyone, but it is not humanly possible when you receive as many requests as I do each week). But if someone from my church comes to me for once-off type of help, I will always make the time to help them. I do this because of the common relationship we share, being part of the same local body.

  3. Informal Mentoring Relationship

    This is where an individual occasionally goes to someone with questions or for help or advice. There is an informal agreement between the two individuals that this is ok. The mentor does not take a proactive role in mentoring this person, but is available as a resource from time to time. If you are a mentee in this type of relationship, do be careful not to demand help too frequently or in too large a block of time, or the mentor will become inclined to pull away. The mentor in this type of relationship usually has a fondness for the person, but does not consider themselves in any sort of serious relationship with them. They do not consider themselves committed to helping this person grow. But they feel the person has promise and they enjoy helping out occasionally on an as-needed basis.

  4. Contractual Mentor Relationships

    These are a formal type of mentor relationship. They are usually for a specific period of time, or to work towards a specific goal. The terms of ending the relationship are usually built in to the relationship and understood and agreed on by both sides. An example of this would be a seminary "practicum" where the person, as part of their course, works on staff of a church in an unpaid position for a 6 month period. The student gets practical experience under the close supervision of an experienced individual. They receive one on one training and mentoring. The pastor gets a "free" or unpaid staff member for a six month period. It is sort of a win-win situation for both sides.

  5. Formal Mentor

    This is a formal mentoring agreement, similar to the contractual mentor relationship. However, it is not for a specific short period of time or towards a specific goal. It often results from some type of formal working relationship, such as a pastoral intern being trained by a staff member, or such as a senior pastor training a new and more junior one, etc.

  6. Mutual Benefit Mentor Relations

    This is similar to an apprenticeship, but less formal. It is where both sides benefit from the relationship. One side usually helps with practical things and the other side gives training and opportunity and helps them grow in their giftings.

    This is the primary form I use when I mentor. I make myself available to those who help me out with the ministry. My staff members have the highest priority on my time, of course, and they also do the most work for the ministry. I also try to be available from time to time to the volunteers who help out by facilitating the chatrooms, etc. The neat thing I have found is that the Lord appears to do a bit of impartation to those who serve. The folks who help me with GodSpeak tend to begin to move in my anointings. And I am more available to them as a mentor. This includes things like prophetic ministry and speaking into their lives, answer questions that come up, etc. I also tend to gently push them to take on more anointing, responsibility, etc.

    For instance, Paul Gaskin went from being list admin to teaching a class to becoming a member of the Prayer-School leadership core and also being on staff of the GodSpeak Ministry. In fact, Alison Bowling has gone through the same steps. And Lucy Deliganis went from captaining and "pastoring" the intercessors to being on staff as an administrator for the GodSpeak ministry to being a member of the prayer school leadership core. In other words, they all started out as helpers but grew in gifting and anointing and were given more and increased ministry responsibility and opportunity.

    My heart is to raise them and help them grow in their gifting and anointing as they help with the ministry and serve. I also enjoy seeing an impartation of my anointing and giftings begin to operate in their lives. It is kind of a win win situation for everyone. They help me run the ministry and I help them grow in gifting and anointing and I give them increased responsibility as they grow.

Wrap Up

Now that we have explored the topic of mentoring, let's bring it back to prayer and intercession. No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, and in your ability to move effectively in intercession, the Lord would like you to grow in it even more. There will be times when He will bring along people who He has appointed to help you through certain growth stages. They may have a different mentoring style than you expect. Do not let your expectations of what a mentor "should be like" keep you from learning from the person God has appointed to teach you for a season. Recognize that there are many different types of mentors and many different styles of mentoring they may use. Be flexible and try to gain as much as you can from the ones God sends to teach you.

Also, no matter how much of a beginner you may feel like, there is probably someone who is more of a beginner in it than you are. Don't be surprised if God pairs you up with them for a season and asks you to help them grow a bit. You may only be one step ahead of them. But if you will reach out and extend your hand to them and help them come up to where you are, you will find that God will also cause you to grow some more in the process. This seems to be one of the principles of God's economy, the more you "give it away,' the more He gives it to you. Isn't there a verse in the bible that says, "Freely you have received, so give freely"? This applies to mentoring and growing in your giftings/anointing as well.

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

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