The following is an article written by Alvin Reid entitled “Informal Mentoring.” The original post of this article can be seen here
“Odysseus has some of the most famous adventures in the annals of Greek mythology.
Before going away to fight the Trojan War, Odysseus sought a man who would care for his son, Telemachus. Odysseus knew he would be gone for years, so he needed a man to raise his son just as he would if he were there. Odysseus found a man who did just that.
That is where we get the term “mentor,” which refers to someone who pours into a younger person to help him or her become what they could be. A Christian mentor is someone who helps another to become more like Christ by modeling and teaching what a Christ-follower looks like.
Students in your ministry will doubtless be helped by your events, Bible studies and other ministry opportunities that you offer. But students, today more than ever, want and need a mentor. Authors Jess and Thom Rainer note in their book “The Millennials” that three out of four Millennials want a mentor — someone to show them how to live and not just tell them what to do.
Most of us think of mentoring as a weekly time of meeting with an individual or a few people to focus on specific areas of growth. A man named Chuck did that for me in college and it literally changed my life. I have emulated him for years. I think a mark of a healthy student ministry includes not only the numbers of students involved, but also the number being actively mentored. Those I teach in student ministry hear my nonstop challenge to be constantly mentoring a few even while leading the many.
This might sound like another thing to add to your long to-do list, but my preferred approach to mentoring is actually informal. In fact, I wrote a whole ebook on it called “With” (available for free at alvinreid.com/ebooks). Informal mentoring refers to doing life together regularly. Take a young person or two with you to run errands, to help you do yard work, to serve others or just join you at the coffee shop to talk about life. You interact more in the course of daily life, which allows you to see better how to shape the student.
What are some things you do regularly that could involve a student? You do not have to be a Bible scholar to be a mentor. You don’t have to know Ke$ha is a singer, not a new brand of cereal. You do need to love Jesus and love students.
Remember, Jesus taught the multitudes.
He fed thousands.
He sent out 70.
But He changed the world with 12. And of those 12, He specifically invested in Peter, James and John.
Is there a student right now in your life who sees you as a mentor? Is there someone you should be mentoring?
If so, here are some resources:
“Mentoring Millennials” by Daniel Egeler (NavPress)
“The Be-With Factor” by Bo Boshers and Judson Poling (Zondervan)
“The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman (Revell)
Alvin L. Reid, PhD is professor of evangelism and student ministry/Bailey Smith chair of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and young professionals director at Richland Creek Community Church.