I believe that every young pastor needs a mentor, and every experienced pastor should become one. But just what is mentoring?

Leadership expert and Focus on the Family board member Bob Biehl has authored a booklet with Jerry MacGregor and Glen Urquhart entitled Mentoring — How to Find a Mentor and How to Become One (LF206). In it, Bobb says, "Mentoring is making available the mentor's personal strength, resources and network (friendships/contacts) to help a protegé reach his or her goals." The important aspect of mentoring is not using a protegé to accomplish the mentor's goals. Rather, it is a process by which the one being mentored becomes all that he of she should be.

What makes a good mentor? How do you select a protegé? Perhaps the following guidelines will prove helpful.

Mentor Checklist:

  • Will the mentor be an objective, lovingly honest, balanced source of feedback for your questions?
  • Will the mentor be open and transparent with his/her own struggles?
  • Will the mentor model his/her teachings?
  • Does the mentor know and believe in you? Is he or she one of your chief cheerleaders and not your chief critic?
  • Will the mentor teach you as well as answer your questions?
  • Is the mentor successful in your eyes?
  • Will the mentor be open to two-way communication, learning from you on occasion as well as teaching you?
  • Does the mentor want to see younger people succeed in developing their spiritual and leadership potential?

Protegé Checklist:

  • Will you be able to believe 100% in the protegé?
  • Do you naturally enjoy communicating with the protegé?
  • Will you be able to give without reservation to the protegé?
  • Will you love him or her as a brother or sister?
  • Do you admire his or her potential as a leader?
  • Is the protegé teachable, eager to learn from you, and willing to mature into his or her spiritual and leadership potential?
  • Will the protegé be threatened by you or threatening to you?

On a personal note, I can point to several people in my three decades of ministry who have been mentors to me, who have walked me through some very difficult times. They were models, yes, but more than that, they were mentors. They took a personal interest in me, wanting to use my resources and to succeed in maximizing my own strengths.

Would you like to be a mentor? Do you need a mentor? I believe great fulfillment can come to any of you who choose to invest in the life of another. Bobb Biehl reminds us that "Mentoring is not a complex subject, but in our opinion, it is the single most important element in the advancement of Christian leadership for the twenty-first century."

If you're interested in this subject, if you want to more intentionally move toward finding a mentor or becoming one, feel free to write: Mr. Bobb Biehl, Masterplanning Group International, P.O. Box 952499, Lake Mary, FL 32795.

Taken from Pastor to Pastor newsletter, Feb. 1995.
Article copyright © 1995, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Dr. H.B. London is the vice president of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family and the author of numerous books on and for pastors. He served as a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years in several churches in Oregon and California. He and his wife, Beverley, live primarily in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have two sons and four grandchildren.