Beyond Letters to an apprentice: 1-5
In my new book "Letters to an Apprentice," I examine 16 different mentors that have influenced me since my youth. As part of this examination, I mention what Mentoring Strategies they used to influence me. For the next few weeks, I will be going more in-depth into all 33 of these strategies. I desire to take you beyond the book into practical and actionable information that you can implement now.
If you are prancing around your living room and doing turns, you are doing this Mentorship strategy wrong. Please don't try that. Modeling is a form of teaching by doing. It usually does not include discussions afterward, but it can. It is just doing things with excellence in the presence of your apprentice. Imagine an apprentice watching his mentor lead a team meeting or share the gospel with a stranger. The apprentice is watching and soaking in the intricacies of every detail. At a later time, there may be a discussion, but the most important part is modeling for your apprentice how to do it.
First, Let me give you a caution. Unsolicited advice is rarely heeded. So this method should usually be initiated by the apprentice at least in the beginning. They may come to you with a particular dilemma or life situation. They may feel stuck or have no idea what their next step should be. They share, you listen, and then you insert wisdom and experience into the conversation. You don't have to give them the answers. It's better if you don't. Let them hear wise counsel and then CHOOSE to make a wise decision. Don't rob them of the opportunity to act on good and bad options. This mentoring strategy will train them for a future of making wise decisions.
This is the opposite of the Wise counsel approach. Confronting is not something that needs to be done regularly, I hope. However, when you see your apprentice stepping into something sinful, disrespectful, or that is doing damage to his family, a good Mentor will speak to his apprentice with love and the necessary amount of firmness. This is an aggressive strategy, but sometimes it is required to avert disaster or redirect an apprentice to something more productive. It can be an excellent tool to reset a wrong attitude, but beware it can also end in disaster if you have not earned the right to say these hard things. If you are going to confront a severe sin issue, be mindful of how you do it, because, as Paul warns, you may be the one needing confrontation next.
Studying scripture together
This is what most people think mentorship is, meeting together once a week and exploring God's word together. Though I would not say that this is the essence of mentorship, I would say that it can be one of the most foundational methods. Mostly because it gives THE foundation for wisdom and knowledge, it helps the apprentice to learn that the mentor is not the ultimate source of wisdom. Rather the mentor has wisdom because they study scripture, and seek understanding from God, then they follow up with obedience. One bit of guidance, if you are using this method, focus equally on knowledge AND obedience. An imbalanced approach will lead either to empty knowledge or self-righteousness. If you can, lead them into knowledge and understanding...SO THAT they can obey and put what they have learned into practice, you have both found the heart of mentorship.
Asking hard questions
Perhaps my favorite. It has been hugely beneficial in my life, and I use it extensively in my mentorship relationships. These questions lead both mentor and apprentice to think deeply about difficult and controversial topics. They also give a safe place to redirect poor theology or belief in a healthy and trusting relationship. But be careful, it isn't only the apprentices who find flaws in their reasoning. Mentors need to adjust as well (if the apprentice can make a good case and back it up with scriptures). These questions center on controversial issues of our times, ingrained personal beliefs and habits, or even differing theological perspectives.