The uber sexy/unsexy approach

I work for a Christian NGO that primarily delivers a mentoring program to high-risk young people. Selling the idea of a mentoring program is one of the hardest things I have to do. Not to the supporters and donors but to the young people. This is because mentoring is one of the most misunderstood concepts today. Somewhere in our minds mentoring became about a teacher and their pupil, we just traded the classroom for a more comfortable coffee shop.

I just got off a LinkedIn thread about this very thought where a person shared their heart felt plea for a change in direction to the stereotypical mentoring model. Sadly the comments were filled with “I have a Dmin in Discipleship. Follow this link for a copy of my ebook on how to be a disciple maker.” Not one of the experts in mentoring engaged with the post, they just wanted to be followed.

There is some mentoring in a teacher student relationship but to truly and effectively mentor it has to be so different to this. I often use the analogy of a tandem bicycle. A bike with two seats but only one set of handlebars. And mentors/teachers… You don’t get the handlebars.

A mentor helps a young person get to where they couldn’t get without you. It’s a position of humility, of being on the same level but with the experience to speak into the ears of that person siting in front of you setting their course. A mentor asks the right questions, knows when to listen and is ok with the mentee choosing the option they wouldn’t choose. They will still be there on the other side of a bad choice and if they do their job right they actually become redundant/just a friend.

Jesus modelled mentoring better than any other model in the church. You just have to read Phil 2. He took on the very nature of a servant, he took on our form. He walked with ordinary people who did ordinary things. Yes he taught to crowds but he mentored day in day out, over meals, while walking on the road. When Peter lobs off the guys ear, Jesus puts it back on, When Peter says something stupid, Jesus doesn’t offer him a copy of his book. He says to his mentee “ok lets try that again, what can we do different?”

As a mentor, I challenge you to go and do the same.


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