Is mentoring biblical? What is a Christian view of mentorship?
Mentoring is definitely biblical.
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Mentoring is defined by Webster as teaching or giving advice or guidance to someone, such as a less experienced person or child. Jesus mentored His disciples during His ministry on earth. In fact, He said anyone who serves Him must follow Him (John 12:26). In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20), Jesus told His followers to "make disciples of all nations." Making disciples involves much more than giving people a set of rules to follow: it includes living with them and helping them to grow in Jesus. That is mentoring.
As Timothy was developing in his Christian walk, he was mentored by Paul, and he and Paul wrote numerous letters together (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, both letters to the Thessalonians, and Philemon).
The Bible also tells older Christians to teach younger Christians (Titus 2). Specifically, older women are told to "train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled" (verses 4–5). Paul implies in verses 2 and 6 that the older men should likewise teach the younger men by example, and this example is more than just showing the right way to behave. It includes training the younger men. This is mentorship. In verse 7, Paul urges Titus to "show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works." Paul is urging Titus to be more than just a preacher; he is to be a disciple (or mentor) in helping the church in Crete to grow. But Paul isn't the only one to command mentoring. Peter, in 1 Peter 5:2–3, says, "shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock." This is a command to be mentors to their flocks.
One caution, though. Christian mentoring is somewhat different than secular mentoring. Christians are constantly striving to be like Christ, but do not attain perfection in this life. Paul urged the Corinthians to "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Christ is the ultimate model we should follow. As Christians, we should always point others to Christ. Part of our mentoring must be to show the right reactions to our sin. Paul said in Philippians 3:12–14, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." We realize and admit we are not yet fully sanctified, and yet we continue to press on toward becoming more and more Christ-like and encourage others to do the same.
All Christians, as we mature in our faith and sanctification, should seek to mentor others and to help them to become like Christ.
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