I was introduced to the concept of mentoring in my early 30’s. A man whom I esteemed highly asked if I would be interested in a discipling relationship. Up till then I recall no one intentionally helping me walk more closely to Christ. He proposed a weekly meeting at the Auckland Harbor Bridge and that’s what we did – every Monday for six years! The model he followed was that I was the learner, he the teacher.
This more-mature to less-mature model has great biblical warrant: Moses to Joshua, Naomi to Ruth (or was it the other way round?), Paul to Timothy to name a few. This model is however quite limiting. The number of people who are available and confident enough to mentor those less mature is, in my church experience, scarce.
A few years ago, I realized that God was teaching me a more freeing and fluid approach: mutual mentoring (two or more people who come to listen and learn from each other and the Lord). It happened as I started meeting with a young pastor-friend called Don Overton. From day one he spoke into my life and I his. Our relationship became a two-way street.
How did this happen? Essentially it is an attitude, where two people, regardless of age or maturity-stage, meet humbly to experience the biblical one-anothers. Mutually they encourage one another, submit to one another, pray for one another, confess their sins to one another, and build each other up. God graced Don and I with that attitude.
The benefits are huge. No longer do you need to search for a mentor-guru. Mature mentors are a blessing from God (especially when they humbly come to listen and learn), but they are few and far between. All you need to do is ask, “Who is in my relational network that God may be ‘giving’ to me?” Jesus talked that way when he prayed to his Father, before he was crucified. Speaking of his 12 disciples, he said, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me… (John 17:9). We are not designed to be in a mentoring relationship with hundreds, just a few. Pray and ask God to lead you to someone you could mutually mentor.
What are some of your experiences as you have searched for a mentor? What do you think of the concept of mutual mentoring?
Rowland Forman is primarily a mentor to pastors. Currently he leads
Living Stones Leadership Ministries in New Zealand. He and Elaine have three children and seven grandkids. This year he published “The Lost Art of Lingering: Mutual Mentoring for Life Transformation” www.rowlandforman.com