Whether you are new to the Christian faith, a seasoned veteran, or somewhere in-between, mentoring is needed for your spiritual growth. Though it is easy to find excuses not to be in a mentoring relationship, the benefits far outweigh any perceived inconvenience.
Here are four thoughts to keep in mind when entering a mentoring relationship to avoid spiritual death by isolation.
Before getting started in a mentoring relationship, one needs to define what kind of mentoring relationship they are looking for. A mentor once taught me to seek after three types of mentoring relationships. One type is to be mentored by another individual. Maybe a more mature individual, or someone who is part of the leadership of the church. A second type is peer-mentoring. This is someone in the same stage of life as yourself. While in youth ministry, I had an individual who was a youth pastor at another church who I would get together with. We shared our struggles and joys and prayed for each other. It is beneficial to be able to sit and discuss with someone who is going through the process you are and understands where you are coming from. The third type is where you are mentoring another individual. This could be someone new to the faith or seeking to go deeper. While I have failed at times to have all three types of mentoring relationships, it is important to bear them in mind and move towards them.
When looking for an individual to be mentored by, peer-mentored with, or to mentor, pray. Spend time praying and seeking who the Lord may bring to mind. Talk to a pastor or elder about your desire to be mentored and see if they know of any people who would be a good fit. Look around your Community Group (Bible Study) and see who can walk along side you as a peer-mentor. If you're being mentored and are a part of the life of the church, then most likely someone will approach you about being their mentor. If not, first talk with a pastor about their thought on you mentoring another individual. They may have reservations, if so, take it with grace and humility. Take it also as an opportunity to be mentored. Often times, they may know of someone who has expressed interest and can connect you two.
Once you have defined what type of mentoring relationship you are looking for and have been led to an individual, it is important to set the expectations together. Even if you are mentoring an individual, do not just impose your will and desires upon them, but communicate and explore with them what the mentoring relationship will look like. Discuss what you are going over and the goals. Find out if there is anything specific that your mentoree wants to go over. Maybe they are struggling with a specific sin, or want to delve deeper into studying Scripture/theology. Work out together what your times will be focused on.
A final thought is to define the time. Agree on a consistent time and place to meet. Public places are good, but I do find it difficult to discuss serious heart issues. It is hard to share openly already, add on top of that the fear that someone can overhear as you share your sin. Look for an area that has a bit of privacy and consistently meet together.
Mentoring, when done correctly, can have a lasting impact. Not only in your own life, but in the life of the individual you mentor. They in turn mentor others and a culture of accountability and encouragement begins to form. Find yourself a mentor, and when the time is right, begin to look for your "Timothy" to mentor.