Kevin came on staff at American University Chi Alpha in 2012 after graduating with a Bachelor's of Science in Business. He is the director of Chi Alpha International and also disciples student leaders. In his free time he likes to cheer on his Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins. He also has an impeccable bowling form.
We’re called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). So mentoring, in a way, represents the epitome of our call as faithful Christians.
Jesus had three years to change the world and He decided to devote a good portion of His time investing in the twelve disciples.
So there is no doubt that the Son of God Himself considered discipleship as the most effective means of ministry and thus calls us all into it as well.
But outside of discipleship being an effective form of ministry, it is also very exciting. There is also something very appealing about being able to improve someone’s life, and also something very appealing about leaving a legacy!
However, mentoring can be very frustrating, and if one isn’t aware of the misconceptions they might have about it, they set themselves up for disappointment and discouragement. So here are several misconceptions I had of mentoring that you should be aware of:
Mentoring can happen without friendship
When we think about mentoring, we often think about two people grabbing coffee, talking about life and talking accountability. Or the other way we think about mentorship is sort of the old school style of apprenticeship, which is very specific to individual professions. Yes there is an element of discipleship that involves skill transfer, and there is an element of discipleship that involves conversational accountability. However, we frequently make that the extent of our discipleship. One look at the Jesus-style of ministry and we can see that Jesus lived life with his disciples. They broke bread together, they traveled together and they ministered together. The friendship element of discipleship cannot be lost, it is essential. We need to be willing and able to have less spiritual conversations, go to movies together, go shopping together etc. Without that we make discipleship a job instead of a relationship.
Failures in mentoring are my fault
You will experience failures. There will be people you mentor who will keep falling into the same sin repeatedly. There will be some people you mentor who, no matter how much you poke and prod, never seem to open up. There will be others who simply flake on all your meetings. And my common response in all of this is that I must have done something wrong. Perhaps I’m not a good conversationalist, or maybe I’m not saying the right things.
Relationships are a two way street. We can put our best foot forward and we can be very intentional about wanting to speak life into somebody, but it is up to them whether they want to receive it or ignore it. If we were able to reject God and the grace He offers, how much more will others be able to reject our love for them?
I can’t mentor until I am ready
Here is the biggest misconception we have- that there is a point of readiness that we must attain before we can fully mentor somebody. Like after we cross whatever imaginary threshold, we’d be inundated with wisdom and righteousness. If we wait until we are ready we will never mentor anybody. Conversely we will never know all there is to know about mentoring either. So we need to approach mentoring with a humility to make mistakes and learn. Andy Stanley says that we are not responsible for filling someone’s cup, we are only responsible for emptying our own. Mentor and teach what you know, and trust the Lord to do the rest.