This week I’m posting about the characteristics of a mentor, based on the mentoring relationship that the Apostle Paul had with his protege, Timothy. The first quality that a good mentor will possess is experience. “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1, NLT). A mentor is one who has walked where you are walking. They have the experience and the experiences you need in life. They’ve earned their accomplishments and often bear in their bodies and souls the scars of adversity. They are not theorists or philosophers. They offer practical help that matters in the real world.
Characteristic number two is that mentors are relational. Check out the language Paul used to describe his proximity to Timothy: “I am writing to Timothy, my dear son. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace. Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again” (2 Timothy 2:2-4, NLT). Words and phrases like “my dear Son,” “ancestors,” and “tears and joy” help us to see that there was a kinship between the two. The difference between and mentor and a teacher is a relationship. Every mentor is a teacher, but not every teacher is a mentor.
The third characteristic is that mentors know the power of a story. Verse 5 continues, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1:5, NLT). Good mentors use image and illustration to convey truth. Rather than spew forth answers or cliches, they dwell in the land of “once upon a time,” and will often address questions by telling a story rather than producing pat answers.
Tomorrow I’ll share three more characteristics of a good mentor. Thanks for checking in today. And thanks for recommending this blog to your friends and family!