|Non-alcoholic drinks; I promise!|
Start the mentoring relationship. First, see if God’s pointing you toward a specific person, like he pointed Elijah to Elisha. I call these “divine appointments.” Sometimes you just sense a pull toward someone, and you’re not sure why. Try it out; see if there’s a connection. But, even if there is a connection, be prepared for some awkwardness at first. When two people are feeling each other out, deciding if they can trust one another, there can be some awkwardness. Give the relationship a chance to get through the awkward phase.
Be willing to share who you really are. Whether you’re the mentor or the mentee, this is critical. Often, when God puts two people together, it’s because they have something in common. It could be a sin they both struggle with. It could be a similar childhood or life situation. Determining that common ground is essential and will bind the relationship, but is only possible if you’re both willing to be honest and vulnerable.
Realize that every mentoring relationship is different. Some Biggest Loser contestants prefer encouraging Bob while others prefer in-your-face Jillian. Some mentoring relationships will be heavy on encouragement and listening and light on accountability. Others will be largely rigid, assertive accountability, and light on encouragement. Lean into whom you are; don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you’re the mentor, then be a student of your mentee and work to guide them in ways that will work best for them.
Extend grace. The mentee will screw up. He’ll fall back into a sin he thought he’d conquered. He’ll get through the “honeymoon” phase of life with God and into the mundane or difficult days, and he’ll waver. Extend grace and help them back up. The mentor will also screw up. She’ll forget to check in for a while. She’ll not respond to a phone call. Extend grace and get back on track.
Remember it’s not about the mentor. If you’re the mentor, then you’re pointing the mentee toward God, not toward you. You cannot change someone’s life; only God can do that. If you’re the mentee, then remember you’re ultimately trying to follow God, not another person. People move, die, and let you down. Just because a mentor leaves your life doesn’t mean God does.