Photo by Nik Macmillan
The positive outcomes of mentoring have been substantiated by evidence-based reports, which revealed that (1) young people who had mentors, set higher educational goals and are more likely to attend college than those without mentors; (2) youth who had mentors, particularly those at risk, are more likely to report engaging in productive and beneficial activities than youth without mentors; (3) the longer the mentoring relationships lasts, the greater the value for youth; (4) young people believe that mentoring provides them with the support and guidance they need to lead productive lives; and (5) mentees want to serve as mentors, confirming that mentees feel empowered to make significant contributions to the world.1
Inspired by the biblical mandate for mentoring, church leaders and members have been galvanized to provide this life-changing service to their youth. This dyadic relationship between mentors and mentees continues to play a crucial role in the dissemination of moral, ethical and spiritual precepts, from one generation to the next.
The Holy Scriptures are replete with examples of men and women who were strongly encouraged to fulfill their roles and functions as mentors. For example, Moses mentored young Joshua to succeed him as spiritual leader (see Numbers 27:18). Eli mentored Samuel to be priest and judge (see 1 Samuel 3:1). Paul mentored Timothy to assume the role of spiritual leader (see 1 Timothy 1: 1-20).
A primary goal of church-based adult mentoring is for mentees (under the guidance of their mentors) to become politically and socially involved in improving the quality of life of men, women and children within their homes and local communities. An example of this form of civic engagement is found in the Bible. The kind of fast I want is this: remove the chains of oppression, and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear and do not refuse to help your relatives. Then my favor shall shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. If you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon (Isaiah 58:6‒8, 10 GNB).
Jesus Christ is the perfect mentor. He is always ready and willing to establish a trusting relationship with us, His mentees. He invites us to come unto Him with all our burdens, worries and cares, and He will provide rest for our tired souls (see Matthew 11:28). Through this union with Him, we receive strength and courage to face the myriad challenges of life and living. He promises, Fear not for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Isaiah 41:10, KJV).
Bruce, M., & Bridgeland, J. (2014). “The mentoring effect: Young people’s perspectives on the outcomes and availability of mentoring.” Washington D.C. Civic enterprises with Hart Research Associates for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
Elvin Gabriel is professor of Educational Psychology and Counselor Education at Andrews University.