Do you love seeing people realize their God-given potential? Do you have a passion to motivate and encourage people not to settle for less? If yes, pay attention to the following do’s and don’ts. It’s not a comprehensive list but a few thoughts to keep in mind as you engage with people.
1. Empower people to stand on their own
If we are giving them the fish rather than teaching them how to fish, it’s detrimental to their growth. Don’t spoon-feed people all the time.
Don’t do all the thinking and praying for them. Don’t be quick to prophesy. Don’t make decisions for them. Let them learn to seek God for themselves and hear from Him. This will help them to grow in their intimacy with God and recognize His voice.
We can guide them with foundational Godly principles, wisdom and insights that are relevant to their challenges. Let them then apply those practically and spiritually into their lives to get the answers or to work out a solution.
That’s how they will learn to walk, mature and stand on their own.
2. One size does not fit all
Our five point formula on how things should be done may not work for everybody. Don’t be rigid. We can’t fix someone’s life with a bunch of misapplied scriptures or a golden rule.
The practicalities of life will differ from person to person depending on their unique surroundings. Listen well, ask questions and avoid premature assessments.
Take time out to seek God’s wisdom when mentoring. God often shows one or few things at a time. His counsel can be very simple or disruptive. It can be unorthodox and very different from the norm. If we sense nothing from God, let’s keep quite and not force ourselves to say something that we may regret later.
3. Let people create their own game plan
Be careful of giving strategic life directions. We can lay down foundational principles, ask questions and make suggestions. But let people create their own game plan. Let the onus of decision making be completely on them.
The goal is to help people discern God’s voice for themselves and take the steps of faith or make wise decisions regarding a situation. This will give them a chance to create a personal history with God that they can own. Their very own God stories. And experiences like these will create a God confidence in them for the tougher challenges ahead.
If we do give a strategic life direction, we are accountable for that. If they don’t accept it, it’s fine. Let them go ahead with their game plan. Let them take the risk. They may be able to pull it off or else they will learn from the school of hard knocks.
4. We can’t replace the Holy Spirit
Don’t try to be perpetually somebody’s Holy Spirit. The goal is always to lead that person into an active intimate relationship with Jesus where they can hear His voice for themselves and listen to His counsel. One day we will be gone, we will move on. Don’t leave them on a crutch.
One of the fruits of good mentoring is that over a period of time, people will stop coming frequently to us, because they have learnt to go to the Holy Spirit first. Only if they are unclear on something, they may seek our help further.
(Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit that is given to us as a gift by God when we turn away from our sins and put our trust in Jesus. Holy Spirit will counsel us, guide us, strengthen us, comfort us and give directions in tough situations. He is also called “The Helper”. )
5. Be patient
People don’t change as per our timetable. Our impatience can masquerade as tough love. When that happens, our counsel may not be in line with God’s counsel.
6. See prophetically
Beware of the tendency to look at the person’s past failures and profile them based on that. We need to see prophetically into the future and mentor them based on what they could become. That’s how God sees and deals with us. He does not direct us based on the facts but on the potential of who we could become. See the person as God would see and feel what He would feel.
7. Celebrate people’s uniqueness
Let’s not create a clone of ourselves in others. Never attempt to mold people to be what we want them to be. Let them be comfortable in their own skin. Their unique skills, personality, mindset, and methodology could be the gift that is very much needed in the church and in the world.
David felt uncomfortable wearing Saul’s armor. People thought he would surely die but he was able to take out Goliath just with a slingshot. His mindset and temperament was completely opposite of others around him. He was confident that God was backing him up.
Recognize and celebrate people’s unique talents, their call, their spiritual gifting, and their personality. Encourage them to nurture and sharpen the skills they have.
People with certain temperaments could thrive in a particular job, business or situation where most would barely survive. And often what they have may appear as an inherent weakness, insignificant or a disadvantage.
Diversity is a blessing. Never write off people or try to change the way God has wired them.
8. Don’t overprotect
Extremes are not good. Sometimes we can push it too far. In our love and care, we can overprotect people. We put boundaries and expectations that suffocate and frustrate people. We end up treating adults like kids.
Give people some space. Don’t build a wall around them because of fear. Don’t keep a constant tab on what they’re up to or why they didn’t call. Sometimes we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and step back. It’s okay if they make a mistake. But we need to give them enough space and freedom so that they can mature and learn to make wise decisions.
Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant.
– Pastor Jamie Smith
9. Be honest with our failures
We mentor based on our life experiences and perspectives. If we have failed in something, let’s be honest with our failures. Let’s not try to hide or cover it. Our mistakes can become wisdom for others.
10. Speak the hard truth in love
Don’t shy away from speaking the hard truth. Sometimes we have to do it no matter how uncomfortable it maybe for the other person. Do it with wisdom and in love.
Sometimes people need to hear something as it is, with no sugar coating. So don’t beat around the bush. It could well be a defining moment of self-realization for them. It may change their life.