Mentoring: Investing in the Future
By Steve W. Raimo
“Pass on what you heard from me — the whole congregation saying Amen! — to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2, THE MESSAGE).1
Mentoring is not a new concept, but an adaptation of one of the oldest and best methods of learning. The mentor system was the accepted method of teaching professional skills (medicine and law) and manual-labor skills to the younger generation.
The term mentor was first most clearly defined during the Golden Era of Greece, 500 years before Christ. In The Odyssey, Homer describes a relationship Ulysses established for his son, Telemachus, with an entrusted mentor who would train his son to grow into adulthood and eventually assume his royal responsibilities.
Through the ages, mentoring became synonymous with a broad and deep influence from an older, more experienced and wise person to a younger protégé. The relationship between the mentor and protégé, however, has evolved from one in which the mentor was responsible for the protégé’s professionalism, after-hours activities, and behaviors to a relationship more narrow in scope.2
God wants to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ through the union of divine purpose and human weakness. He uses others — mentors — to stretch us, lend accountability, and encourage us. A person who has walked in faith longer than we have can see potential in us where we might only see blanks on the canvas. Progress in our Christian walk comes when we develop relationships with fellow believers.3
Paul is clear in his instruction to Timothy — “pass on what you have heard” (2 Timothy 2:2, THE MESSAGE, emphasis added). The NIV renders it: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witness entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (emphasis added). In Paul’s address to the church in Rome, he tells the believers that they are “competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14, emphasis added). In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul directs the believers in Corinth to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (emphasis added). Jesus, the consummate mentor, gives clear direction in Matthew 28:20 when he instructs the Church to “teach … them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (emphasis added). The church must be in the forefront in this endeavor to develop the next generation of leaders.
Mentoring is a way to unlock a person’s talents and abilities. Some key factors, however, make the mentoring experience more beneficial for the mentor, protégé, and church.
- Clearly define the objectives the protégé needs to achieve by from the relationship.
- Communicate the benefits and reasons for using the mentoring relationship.
- Tailor the mentoring program to meet the needs of the protégé.
- Give adequate training to participants.
- Evaluate and review methods to measure progress, allow for adjustments and improvements.4
To understand mentoring more clearly, I interviewed five leadership-level people who are or have been involved in mentoring relationships. One respondent works for the local medical center and participates in the preceptor program for student nurses. Three respondents are senior pastors, and one respondent serves as director for a mission organization.
I gave respondents the following directive: “Consider all the people whose careers you have influenced in a positive way over the past few years. Choose one with whom you developed an especially close relationship and whose career you have influenced the most. Please answer the following questions with this person in mind.”5
- How does relationship affect the ability of the mentor to influence the protégé?
- Do you believe mentoring works? Explain.
- What qualities are necessary to make mentoring successful?
- How does mentoring benefit the mentor? The protégé?
The respondents unanimously agreed that relationship was vital to the process of mentoring. Each concurred that mentoring is a one-to-one human relationship that goes beyond an institutional agreement. The mentor agrees to steward another’s — spiritually, emotionally and mentally — maturing process.6 As Gay states, this relationship enables the “development of a trusting confidential relationship where matters go beyond the transfer of knowledge or skill that can be discussed.”7 Furthermore, respondents concluded that “if relationships play a crucial role in our socialization process,”8 the mentor-protégé relationship is critical to the process in which knowledge, skills, and character are developed. The mentors desired to create a safe context for growth by offering unconditional, faithful acceptance of the protégé.9
Does Mentoring Work?
In this context of relationship, mentoring works. Each respondent presented situations in which his protégé succeeded because of the mentoring relationship. The person who works for the medical center acknowledged that her protégé “exceeded my expectations and today is a successful contributor to the organization, providing leadership in her area of responsibility.” The three senior pastors each cited instances where people whom they mentored entered full-time ministry and today are successful in their endeavors. The director of the mission organization cited numerous instances where people whom he mentored are serving in leadership positions in foreign nations around the world.
Each of the mentors interviewed stated that honesty and the communication of clear and accurate information are essential components for a successful mentor-protégé relationship. These enabled the relationship to build on a foundation of trust, making it possible for those participating to express their feelings about the relationship and the progress they achieve. As Bell states, “partnership-driven mentors seek to mentor with authenticity and openness. Partnership communication has one additional quality (in addition to being clear and accurate): It is clean, pure, and characterized by the highest level of integrity and honesty.”10 These mentors promote the belief that modeling lifelong learning, integrity, and ethical decision making is integral in this relationship.11
“Mentoring is the first job of an effective leader.”12 Respondents agree that mentoring must be a natural component of one’s leadership responsibilities. In addition to personal growth, development, and sense of significance, respondents felt an increased sense of job satisfaction gained from the mentoring relationship. They widened their network of contacts and gained insights into the issues the protégé faced.13
Gaining insights into these issues the protégé faced was most important for the respondents involved in church ministry and especially significant when the protégé was from a different generation. Mentors who were builders or boomers gained a new understanding of the protégés’ perspectives of life, work, and relationship when the protégé was a gen-xer or millennialist. The relationship provided them with a clearer, first-hand understanding of how the younger generations assimilate and process information, and formulate and develop relationships. More important, the relationship helped these mentors understand the tools needed to positively influence the younger generations with the gospel.
For protégés, the structure provided gave them opportunity to explore their strengths and weaknesses in a safe, confidential atmosphere.14 They learned how to do their jobs better through a transfer of knowledge and skill. More important, they learned how to better balance and manage their careers and their lives.15 The protégé mentored in a Christian setting learned how to work within the organization’s culture even during difficult times.
So, why be a mentor? It is important for us to understand the significance of this relationship for the ongoing propagation of the gospel. Jesus established the mandate (Matthew 28:19). As Christian leaders who are interested in leaving a legacy of faith, we must be diligent and purposeful about mentoring the next generation of leaders.16 Pieper presents some practical considerations:
- Both the mentor and protégé must seriously consider the time commitment involved and the necessity of personality fit.
- There must be an adequate amount of time for the relationship to develop and ground rules to be established.
- Every mentor-protégé relationship must have defined goals. Determine what the protégé wants to achieve.
- During the growth stage, when mentor and protégé meet regularly, review and adjust goals, monitor progress, and resolve any problems.
- Provide for a mutually agreed on end date of the relationship and provide for some level of celebration.
- Conduct an honest evaluation of the relationship’s success. Both mentor and protégé need to be willing to share what they have learned, and they need to commit to being honest, even if they feel the mentorship was not successful.17
Pacelli provides some additional compelling suggestions to consider before entering into a mentoring relationship.
- Be available to your protégé. Define and commit to the time you will devote to the mentoring relationship.
- Listening is a priority. Listen and learn the priorities, struggles, and aspirations of the protégé. This will build trust in the relationship.
- Keep information confidential. Assume that everything discussed during the mentoring relationship is off-limits to others.
- Be constructive, respectful, and specific in your conversations.
- Be courageous enough to stop the relationship if it is not mutually beneficial.
Your responsibility as a pastor/mentor is to provide guidance, support, and understanding to the protégé by sharing experience, knowledge, and wisdom so he can realize his full potential.18 You help the protégé develop skills to serve others, providing guidance and direction that will move the church forward to achieve its mission, vision, and purposes. Above all else, you must point the protégé to Christ.19
1. Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright Â© 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
2. James G. Clawson, “Mentoring in the Information Age,” Leadership and Organization Development Journal 17, no. 3 (1996): 6–15.
3. Randal C. Working, “Mentoring: The Greatest Investment,” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/clergy/features/mentoring.html (accessed May 15, 2008).
4. Alison Tabbron, Steve Macaulay, and Sarah Cook, “Making Mentoring Work,” Training for Quality 5, no. 1 (1997): 6–9.
5. Ronald J. Burke, Carol A. McKeen, and Catherine McKenna, “Benefits of Mentoring in Organizations,” Journal of Managerial Psychology 9, no. 3 (1996): 23–32.
6. Tom Beaudoin, “A Spirituality of Mentoring,” America 189, no. 2 (2003): 14–16.
7. Brian Gay, “What is Mentoring?” Education + Training 36, no. 5 (1994): 5.
8. Terri A. Scandura and others, “The Mentoring Model Theory: Dimensions in Mentoring Protocols,” Career Development International 4, no. 7 (1999): 385.
9. Chip R. Bell, Managers as Mentors — Building Partnerships for Learning, 2d ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2002).
10. Bell, Managers as Mentors, 9.
11. William Schoenhard, “Investing in the Next Generation,” Modern Healthcare 36, no. 13 (2006): 49.
12. Pat Wiesner, “Mentoring: Leadership’s Key Ingredient,” ColoradoBiz 30, no. 1 (2003): 11.
13. Tabbron, “Making Mentoring Work,” 6–9.
14. Ibid., 6–9.
15. Clawson, “Mentoring in the Information Age,” 6–15.
16. Marlene Sweeney, “Each One Teach One,” Catechist 38, no. 3 (2004): 4,5.
17. Shannon Pieper, “The Mentoring Cycle: A Six-Phase Process for Success,” Healthcare Executive (November/December 2004): 24.
18. Mike Flamer, “The Basics of Mentoring,” Modern Materials Handling 60, no. 10 (2005): 21.
19. Jacqueline Faulhaber, “The Five ‘W’s of Mentoring,” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/workplace/articles/mentoring.html (accessed May 15, 2008).
Abrahams, Marc. “Making Mentoring Pay,” Harvard Business Review, 21 June 2006.
Beagrie, Scott. “How to Find a Mentor,” Personnel Today, 17 January 2006, 31.
Bell, Chip R. Managers as Mentors — Building Partnerships for Learning, 2d ed. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2002.
Beudoin, Tom. “A Spirituality of Mentoring.” America 189, no. 2 (2003): 14–16.
Booth, Rosemary. “Mentor or Manager: What Is the Difference? A Case Study in Supervisory Mentoring.” Leadership and Organization Development Journal 17, no. 3 (1996): 31–36.
Burke, Ronald J., Carol A. McKeen, and Catherine McKenna. “Benefits of Mentoring in Organizations.” Journal of Managerial Psychology 9, no. 3 (1996): 23–32.
Clawson, James G. “Mentoring in the Information Age.” Leadership and Organization Development Journal 17, no. 3 (1996): 6–15.
Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications 2003.
Faulhaber, Jacqueline. “The Five ‘W’s of Mentoring.” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/workplace/articles/mentoring.html (accessed May 15, 2008).
Flamer, Mike. “The Basics of Mentoring.” Modern Materials Handling 60, no. 10 (2005): 21.
Gandz, Jeffrey. “Are You a Leader-Breeder?” Ivey Business Journal Online (May/June 2006): 1–4.
Gay, Brian. “What Is Mentoring?” Education + Training 36, no. 5 (1994): 4–7.
Marty, Martin E. “Pastors Attract Pastors.” The Christian Century 112, no. 27 (1995): 911.
McCormick, Patrick. “Pass It On” U.S. Catholic 66, no. 8 (2001): 46–48.
Pacelli, Lonnie. “Am I Meant to Mentor? Five Attributes of Best-in-Class Mentors.” Business Credit 107, no. 10 (2005): 43.
Pieper, Shannon K. “The Mentoring Cycle: A Six-Phase Process for Success.” Healthcare Executive (November/December 2004): 17–24.
Scandura, Terri A. and others. “The Mentoring Model Theory: Dimensions in Mentoring Protocols.” Career Development International 4, no. 7 (1999): 384–391.
Schoenhard, William. “Investing in the Next Generation.” Modern Healthcare 36, no. 13 (2006): 49.
Sweeney, Marlene. “Each One Teach One.” Catechist 38, no. 3 (2004): 4,5.
Tabbron, Alison, Steve Macaulay, and Sarah Cook. “Making Mentoring Work.” Training for Quality 5, no. 1 (1997): 6–9.
Van Emmerik, Hetty, Gayle S. Baugh, and Martin C. Euwema. “Who Wants to be a Mentor? An Examination of Attitudinal, Instrumental, and Social Motivational Components.” Career Development International 10, no. 4 (2005): 310–340.
Veale, David J. and Jeffrey M. Wachtel. “Mentoring and Coaching as Part of a Human Resource Development Strategy: An Example at Coca-Cola Foods.” Leadership and Organization Development Journal 17, no. 3 (1996): 16–20.
Wiesner, Pat. “Mentoring: Leadership’s Key Ingredient.” ColoradoBiz 30, no. 1 (2003): 11.
William B., and Melenie J. Lankau. “Perspectives on Mentoring.” Leadership and Organization Development Journal 17, no. 3 (1996): 50–56.
Randal C. Working. “Mentoring: The Greatest Investment.” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/clergy/features/mentoring.html (accessed May 15, 2008).