Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Is Mentoring? (Part Two)

In Part One of "What is Mentoring?" we looked at the 'traditional' approach to mentoring. But let's look at some other approaches or definitions that have become increasingly popular in society today...

Lois Zachary in The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You points out that for adults "the best learning occurs when there is a mix of acquiring knowledge, applying it through practice, and critically reflecting on the process. This means that the model of mentoring popular in the 1980's, in which an older, more experienced adult passes on knowledge and information to a younger, less experienced adult, is being replaced by a new model... The new model emphasizes the value of mentees engaging actively in their own learning and critical reflecting of their experiences. Good mentoring therefore depends on a reciprocal learning relationship between you and your mentor." Zachary refers to this paradigm shift as moving from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side." The mentor is no longer an authority but a facilitator of a climate conducive to learning. The timescale for a mentor has shrunk considerable, from a lifetime with one mentor to a far shorter timeframe, and multiple mentors and models over a lifetime.

There Reverse Mentoring: How Young Leaders Can Transform the Church and Why We Should Let Them by Earl Creps also makes a strong case for this new model, encouraging older leaders to intentionally look for younger mentors (R-Mentors) to learn from them and to encourage them. Creps approach is very non-traditional. (I do recommend this book to old-school leaders, they will learn much if they're willing to hear that they're not cool and not seen as relevant!)

"Spiritual mentoring is a triadic relationship between mentor, mentoree and the Holy Spirit, where the mentoree can discover, through the already present action of God, intimacy with God, ultimate identify as a child of God and a unique voice for kingdom responsibility." -- Reese and Anderson in Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Direction. A key element here that the Holy Spirit is the main 'mentor', while the human mentor helps the mentoree see and respond to what God is already doing in His life.

In The Leadership Baton: An Intentional Strategy for Developing Leaders in Your Church by Rowland Forman, Jeff Jones and Bruce Miller, there is a solid chapter on mentoring. They point out that at in the past such discussion would be unnecessary as the concept of apprentice and learning from a mentor was a given. They refer to mentoring as a personal learning process, with a goal of bringing people to maturity in Christ. "Mentoring is an intentional spiritual friendship." The intentionality comes from the need for mutually agreed-upon goals, and both the spiritual emphasis and need for a friendship are very important. An analogy they use is mentoring as producing champions, through scouting talent, being a role model, a teacher, a coach, and a team player. Their discussion of mentoring has aspects of both traditional and contemporary mentoring. There is still a sense of direction, with the passing of a baton, but it is more relational, mutual, and as the core views the process as simply a friendship that is intentional and spiritual.

Next time, in Part Three, I'll describe how I currently view the term mentoring, how it seems to occur in the Bible, and describe what aspects of each of the models above I find helpful.

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