Paved with Good Intentions

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Here are three practical tips that will help maximize your impact as a mentor.

Most of what we’ve called mentoring isn’t. It’s honorable, and it’s helpful for the younger generation. But rarely is it intentional. Rarely does it have a statement of what it looks like in the end. Rarely is there a plan, with a defined start and end, and a list of things to talk about in between.

Usually, it becomes social. The result is a ton of time being spent, but little life change.

Over the years, I decided that if I’m going on record for having mentored someone, I’m going to get after it. I’m going to ask tough questions. I’m going to make them face the lies they’re telling themselves and others. There’s going to be homework. It’s going to mean something.

When I started intentionally mentoring guys eleven years ago, I began with the truth I knew; with what I had experienced. The guys in my group can get conceptual stuff anywhere. But real-world stuff backed up by valid experience is rare.

Make a plan, man

1. Every mentor has areas of competence and calling. Start there.

Pick topics, themes, and subjects with which you are familiar. Choose what you know – where you’ve experienced God’s truth in a powerful way. Pour your cup into theirs with these truths. You’ll be surprised how much you know when they start asking you questions.

What makes mentoring so powerful is authenticity. You have a real-world person with real-world experience saying, “Do this” in your marriage, and, “Never do that,” all based on God’s plan for marriage. Or he might say, “Have you thought about the real downside of that decision? Let me tell you what happened to me….”

If you pick truth that God has worked into your life, most often painfully, then you can speak that truth with authority into your protégés’ lives. Don’t worry about what you don’t cover. Be intentional about covering what you know.

2. Make them read, write, meet with other people in the group, practice what you tell them, and come back to give a report.

We all do better when somebody’s watching. Give assignments, and watch what they do.

3. Pick one night a month and put it on the calendar.

This is when you will meet. Make it matter that everyone shows up every time. Stretch out the number of months to match the number of topics you want to dive into. Be sure and work in a retreat or two. This is a time to get away for a night and hang out. Put these on your calendar. Make them happen. Be intentional. Mentoring is important enough to warrant some thought and prayer. We have to make a plan. We have to execute. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

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