WHAT IS MENTORING? YOU’LL BE SURPRISED!
Antonio Baldovinos | Christianity
When you think of mentoring, what do you think about?
The word itself brings up varying ideas for every individual.
Many people want to be mentored by someone older and with more life experience, and most times mentorship is thought of as a counseling session where both individuals sit over coffee and the mentor listens and then gives advice.
Don’t get me wrong asking someone for advice has great value and merit. But I would not use this as an example of mentoring properly.
In 1984 a famous movie came out called the Karate Kid. Daniel Laruso, a high school student in the movie, keeps getting beat up from some guys that are skilled in karate from the Cobra Kai karate gang.
This Cobra Kai gang continually torments Daniel, savagely beating him. On one occasion, while Daniel is getting whooped on again, an older man (Mr. Miyagi) intervenes and single-handedly defeats the five attackers with ease.
Obviously Daniel wants to be mentored and coached by Mr. Miyagi, and after some pressing and negotiations, Mr. Miyagi agrees to train Daniel.
Why do I rehearse this story?
Daniel’s training starts with menial chores that he believes only makes him Mr. Miyagi’s slave.
He waxes cars, paints fences, and varnishes a deck.
Though these tasks seemed pointless at the time, Daniel soon finds out that through them he learned the basics of fighting. I believe this is the same for us in the mentoring process.
Let me continue to explain what I see as the basis of true mentorship and discipleship.
Habits are established from watching someone and doing them—from the mentor. It’s then that questions of why they do what they do and how they do what they do can really be taught and explained.
This is the truest form of mentorship yet seems to be disconnected from the mentoring and discipleship process.
Every time I see something significant, whether throughout history or in our time, I ask, “what was the process? How long did it take them? Who was their coach or parent?” And so on.
It’s with these questions that I have come to understand that mentorship is defined by something far greater, and more costly than many perceive.
True mentorship is not free. There is a price on the mentor and a cost to the mentored.
For the mentor it takes time and extra energy. For the mentored it takes laying down the ego, asking questions pertaining to what the mentor does, learning and even serving.
Matthew 4:18-20, “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
Jesus first invites these brothers to follow Him, and the new disciples begin the first step in mentoring—trust.
Trusting in following while learning. It may not seem like learning at first, but mentorship is not drive thru, nor is it self-serving, both of which our current western culture screams.
WATCH AND LEARN
After trust has been established, the mentored will begin to walk with the mentor, listening to them, watching what they do and doing what they do.
One of the clearest examples I see of this is with the disciples and Jesus. The disciples had watched Jesus walk in power, signs and wonders, and had seen Him continually draw away to prayer. I imagine this spurred them to ask, “Where is your extraordinary life and power come from?” And, I believe they must have connected His prayer life to His power. Then in Luke 11:1-4 the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and Jesus does so. This came from watching His life; in other words, “tell us how you do what you do.”
Jesus taught and showed the ways of the Kingdom of God—He is the truest mentor. With this type of shadowing, mentoring can really be done; new habits can be created, information and demonstration can be fully ingrained, and therefore multiplication is inevitable.
One piece of advice I would give to those being mentored is to be careful while learning to do what your mentor does. Sometimes we initially think we can do better; though this may be true, trust the learning process and do not allow pride to get in the way of the learning process.
Mentorship has a unique process whereby one is learning, watching and shadowing, and then doing what the mentor does, with their help. This is how I would summarize the process:
1. Explanation—tell what you do.
2. Demonstration—show what you do.
3. Walk with them—do what you do together.
4. Coach while they do it—allow them to do alone what you do.
5. Innovation—allow them the freedom to do in their own way what you have shown them.
Can we seek out advice and counsel? Absolutely. I would never stop this.
But true mentoring is done best by following and shadowing those who you want to reflect and mirror, while counting the cost.
I hope you enjoyed this! If you have a comment or a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org