Every four years, I wait with anticipation for the start of the Summer Olympic Games. This year, the world watches the Olympic triumphs of athletes around the world in London. When I watch these athletes compete and win medals, I am reminded that their journey is a process, not only a solitary moment on the world stage. These committed athletes train relentlessly with the assistance of coaches intentionally providing strategy, tips and pointers along the way. As it is with the athletes preparing for their Olympic moment, so it should be with the intentional developing of college students and young adults for the rest of their lives!
A part of intentionally developing this generation is through mentoring. The best definition of mentoring is to take an active role in aiding the growth of another. This development could range from spiritual growth to emotional wholeness. With the exploding expansion of effective conferences, seminars and college/young adult events, the idea of mentoring tends to be limited to one effective presentation or nugget of wisdom. Yet, as Scripture shows us, like the examples of the Apostle Paul and Timothy (see 1 Timothy 1:3-8) or Elijah and Elisha (see 2 Kings 2), mentoring is birthed out of genuine relationships.
For the power of mentoring to come alive, it must be intentional!
Even in the “ME, MYSELF, AND I” culture we live in, thousands of young people are searching for someone to walk alongside them, listen to them, and ask questions they may not have the courage to ask themselves. This lifelong pursuit of development, for both the mentor and mentee, demands a mutual agreement to be real, transparent, and teachable.
Serving as a director of college and young adult ministries, I have seen firsthand the power of intentional mentoring. About a year ago, our ministries started what we’ve termed the “S.A.F.E. Mentoring Program”. This program is designed for college students and young adults to be partnered up with a mentor in the areas of social, academic, financial and emotional development. After taking the faith-filled risk to go forward, the S.A.F.E. team and I realized that this is more than a program; it is a generation-changer. The relationships formed, questions asked and answered and action steps pursued changed the lives of our young adults. (Note: A special thanks to our S.A.F.E. team, led by Marc J. Meade).
I recognize that every ministry context is unique, but I believe God has given us the grace to blossom where we are planted. Whether you are serving on a college campus, in a church, an organization, company or you are the one seeking guidance, mentoring can be the catalyst for new opportunities and new insights to who you are and where you’re going. Mentoring is not limited to information exchange; it is a revelation-exchange. When a mentor meets their mentoree/protégé, a question can be asked that can change the trajectory of one’s life. In order for this to happen, it must be intentional.
In college, I had a mentor (who continues to be my mentor) that challenged me not only by his words, but his life. I watched how he conducted business, treated his wife and family, served others without grumbling and demonstrated the love of God in the smallest of details. At the time, I did not know his reaching out was intentional, but he recognized the potential in me that I could not even see. He would listen to me, ask the hard questions over a meal and even challenge me to try new things that would develop my character. Today, I am a better man because of his indelible mark on my life.
So, how do you begin? If you desire to serve as a mentor, make sure your intention is to help the mentoree/protégé reach their full potential. Have clear expectations of the relationship and evaluation process to gauge how you are progressing. Pray and ask the Lord to place young people on your heart to reach out to. If you desire to be mentored, take the faith step of seeking a mentor that will not coddle you, but challenge you to be who God created you to be! As a mentoree/protégé, approach this relationship as an opportunity for you to grow and learn.
The power of intentional mentoring lives in its responsibilities and authentic relationships. If we desire to see this generation and the next grow as leaders in this world and for the Kingdom of God, we must be intentional. Your investment of time in developing others and your own personal development will make a long-term impact on you, your sphere of influence and others. Let’s bring glory to God by recognizing the power of intentional mentoring!