Mentoring FAQ #1

FAQ #1: Can I be mentored from someone I don't know?

Several months ago, while having a conversation with a guy about mentoring, I asked him who his mentor was. He mentioned in answer that he wasn't mentored by anyone in person, but that he felt mentored by Rick Warren and some other authors because he followed their writing so specifically. The question though, is: Does reading books constitute mentoring? Can someone be mentored by someone they do not know?

I hesitate to say a definite "NEVER!" although I lean toward that answer. I'll tell you why I feel that way: A person writing a book, even if they happen somehow to know your general situation because your situation fits a general culture or style, cannot write a book directly to you. Of course, Paul did...sort of (to Timothy and Titus), but the fact is he was actually writing long letters to someone he knew dearly. Rick Warren probably does not know you in this way, where he remembers your tears with joy (II Tim 1:4). John Piper probably doesn't know you well enough to say that you should continue in the what you already know (II Tim 3:14).

The point is not that these men and others like them cannot impart knowledge to you. Rather, the point is that the type of wisdom that mentoring brings cannot come from a book or from people who do not know you. A mentor can respond to the ins and outs of your life...he would be able to respond directly to what you have going on in life and ministry; John Maxwell cannot.

Keep reading...but humble yourself and find a flesh-and-blood mentor!


Steve said...

Totally with you on that Dan. Mentoring by its very definition is one-on-one. Or even in a small group, it is face-to-face. It is the accountability that we get from a mentor that makes it so meaningful. Some of my mentors were just ordinary men. (Of course, so were the 12 disciples, Joseph, Daniel, just ordinary guys who did extraordinary things) But these men taught me from love, not just from wisdom. Rick is obviously a wise man, God has really gifted him with a talent for the masses. Same with John Ortberg, Adrian Rogers, John Piper, and John MacArthur. While these men are valuable resources, the only one I spent any time with at all was Adrian, and that was just a week at his pastor training.
For me, as I said earlier, it's not so much about wisdom as it is about the passion and fellowship; the sitting together and sharing what's been going on and INTERACTING with that information.

Godspeed with your mentoring, Brother!



The Navy Christian said...

Amen, Steve...I couldn't have said it better!