I am a people person. I am naturally optimistic and positive. I am wired that way. My relationship with God further amplifies my optimism to the next level. When I see people, I see potential. I respect and celebrate their uniqueness. I try to see what they could become in God.
No matter what they are struggling with or if they are at the lowest point in life. No matter how bad their circumstances look. I have this conviction, that it ain’t over till God says it’s over.
That’s the spirit with which I mentor or counsel people. It happens organically. I don’t waste time with religious mumbo-jumbo. It is not theories I have to offer. I have lived and have experienced it. I am real and raw. There is no pretense. I have been in hard places in life. But the God factor changed everything for me.
If you have this passion to see people realize their God-given potential and become all that God wants them to be, then pay attention to the following. It is not a comprehensive list but a few thoughts to keep in mind when encouraging or mentoring people.
1. Empower them to stand on their own
If 90% of the time, you are giving them the fish rather than teaching them how to fish, it is detrimental to their growth. Don’t spoon-feed people all the time. Even if you care about them, don’t do all the thinking, praying and the work for them. Your motive should be to equip them with foundational Godly principles and with practical guidance. They can then apply it practically and spiritually into their own lives. That’s how people will learn to walk and stand on their own.
2. One size does not fit all
If you have a set of rules or 5 point formula on how things should be done, it may not work for everybody. Don’t be rigid. You can’t fix someone’s life with a bunch of misapplied scriptures or formulas. It is your responsibility to seek God’s unique wisdom or counsel in each situation. And often God shows one or few steps at a time. God’s counsel can be disruptive, different from the norm and unorthodox. If you have nothing to say, don’t say.
3. Let them make their own game plan
Be careful of giving strategic life directions. Lay down the principles, ask questions and make suggestions. But let them make their own game plan. The onus of decision making should be on them.
The goal is to help them mature in hearing God for themselves and to take wise practical decisions based on God’s word (Bible). They need to have a personal history with God that they can own.
If you do give a strategic life direction, you 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. You 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. You will move on someday, you will be gone. 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 to you frequently.
(Holy Spirit is God’s spirit that is given to you as a gift by God when you turn away from you sins and put your trust in Jesus. Holy Spirit will counsel you, guide you, strengthen you, comfort you and give directions in tough situations if you ask. He is also called “The Helper”. )
5. Be patient
People don’t change as per your timetable. That’s a reality. Your impatience can masquerade as tough love. When that happens, your 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. You need to see prophetically into the future and mentor them based on what they could become. That’s how God operates. 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.
7. Celebrate their uniqueness
Don’t create a clone of yourself. Never attempt to mold people to be what you want them to be. Let them be comfortable in their own skin. Their uniqueness, personality, and methodology could be the gift that is very much needed in the church and in the world. Remember David felt uncomfortable wearing Saul’s armor. Diversity is a blessing.
8. Don’t overprotect
Extremes are not good. Sometimes we can push it too far. In your love and care, you can overprotect people. And sometimes you can end up treating adults like kids. It will suffocate them. It will frustrate them.
Give them space. Don’t build a wall around them out of fear. Sometimes you need to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you need to step back so that they can mature and grow.
Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant.
– Pastor Jamie Smith
9. Be honest with your failures
Often we mentor based on our life experiences and perspective. If you have failed in something, be honest with it. Don’t hide it. Your mistakes can become wisdom for others.
10. Speak the hard truth in love
Don’t shy away from speaking the hard truth. Sometimes you 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 things 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 could lead them to make specific changes in their life.