Mentoring Monday: Jesus as Spot Mentor
I've written before about the importance of spot mentoring as a way into a mentoring relationship. Sometimes it works out for the better and sometimes a prospective protégé will balk at the advice and walk away. It's part of life for those of us who mentor on a regular basis. More often than not, a spot mentoring situation will simply present itself, the two individuals will exchange information, go their separate ways, and never discuss the issue again, and maybe not even see each other again.
Jesus got involved in one such episode, recorded in Luke Chapter 18:
18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
In this well-known passage, we see Jesus doing what mentors do best. It should come as no surprise, of course, that he is entering into someone's life and making an impact. What is obvious from this story is that the young man didn't want anything to do with giving up his riches. What is not immediately obvious to the man who hasn't been involved in mentoring is that Jesus is prodding a possible protégé.
The situation opens with someone asking advice from a wise man. Now, you and I can't compete with Jesus, but you've probably had someone ask you for advice before. It's what you do with that opportunity that counts for mentoring. As a spot mentor, you're hoping to affect a less-experienced person to the point where they do two things: 1-Make a good decision and 2-Trust you with future opportunities.
I was on duty one day on base as the Barracks Duty Officer (BDO). It was my job to ensure that the students at the barracks were safe and not causing mayhem. During that rotation, I was asked by a young Sailor for a few minutes of my time. I told him to come in and sit at my desk. He told me his problem, I gave him some advice, and he left. At its heart, that was a spot mentoring moment.
Unlike Jesus in the above scripture reference, the young man who asked me for advice seemed ready to act on my suggestions. Like Jesus, however, I only got one opportunity to make an impression on the young man. Just like we will never know the future of this young ruler, I also won't ever know the results of the young Sailor I shared my life with for a few minutes that cold January day. And it doesn't matter. We as mentors do our job, and our job is to be used by God however we need to be used.
You've probably been involved in Spot Mentoring at some time in your life. Someone came to you for some advice, you stepped into their life for a moment by giving some suggestions, and then you step back out. What you might not have known to do was to follow up if possible to see if the young guy could become a protégé.