One of the best ways to extend your godly influence as a Bible class teacher of kids or teens is to begin mentoring them outside of class as well. As you become more involved in the lives of your students (something we highly recommend), you may also find yourself mentoring parents of your students.
Whether it’s answering an occasional question or a request for ongoing mentoring, many Christians are afraid of mentoring others. In our culture, it seems somehow bossy or judgmental. After all, we aren’t perfect ourselves and often feel like we still need mentoring.
That’s the point of scriptures like Titus 2. Notice the author never mentions specific ages. I can’t prove it, but my guess is it’s because no matter your age, you are usually older than others in your church. You have learned from scripture and life experiences ways that can help others navigate that same path more easily and in godly ways. Mentoring isn’t about judging or controlling someone else. It’s following God’s command in Titus 2 to share what we have learned with those coming behind us – helping them avoid pitfalls and sin.
Yet even with that reassurance, many of you still feel unequipped to mentor even your students – much less one of their parents. That’s why I’m always on the look out for resources that can help you feel better equipped to do what God is calling you to do. I was excited to find a new resource that I believe can ease many of your fears. Mentoring for All Seasons by Janet Thompson is a great handbook for those new to mentoring on both sides of the equation.
I love the way the book is organized. The first part of the book explains mentoring in general – what it is and isn’t – to those new to the concept. She spends a great deal of time dispelling myths and focusing on what God calls each of us to do. I especially appreciate that she tackles the generation gap debate – pointing out the lies Satan is telling both sides to encourage them to avoid entering a mentoring relationship.
The author also takes the time to slowly address each stage of a mentoring relationship. I think this is particularly helpful for those who may have been mentoring someone without even realizing it. A couple of her suggestions may sound a little formal and old-fashioned for our world today (like informing parents and spouses about your mentoring relationship in a very “proper” way), but it doesn’t mean she’s wrong in suggesting them.
The remainder of the book, addresses the different seasons in the life of a woman to whom you may be asked to mentor. I love that the book then becomes a reference book as you continue to age and have other areas in which you can now mentor others. It covers everything from seekers to new Christians to marriages, parenting, singleness, difficult seasons and more. I’m really not sure I could think of a season she omitted.
Her suggestions are practical and help the mentor and mentee draw some healthy boundaries. In a couple of cases, I felt her boundaries might have been a little too strong, but my personality probably plays into that a bit! There were a couple of areas where I had minor quibbles, but like any handbook, her ideas should be guidelines to get you started, not necessarily imperative rules for every situation.
My main complaint is actually found in the appendix. She gives the “salvation prayer” as the way to become a Christian. This is found nowhere in scripture and is actually a relatively recent American creation. The biblical standard has always been baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I frankly was shocked and upset to find it hadn’t been corrected in the editing process, since it was published by Abilene Christian University Press – a group that knows the salvation prayer isn’t biblical, but for some reason let it slide by uncorrected.
Despite the appendix issue, the rest of the book I believe would be extremely helpful to anyone unsure about mentoring others. All Christians should be mentoring and this book may give you the confidence to step out and expand your godly influence with your students and their parents. It really is a great way to spend your time and effort serving others and sharing your faith.
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