Authentic Spiritual Mentoring
Moody Publishers, 2009, 169 pp., ISBN 978-0-8024-6661-7
Ele Parrott is a spokesperson and presenter for Finishers Project, a ministry that helps Baby Boomers find significance in a second career in ministry. She gets deeply involved in people's lives as a biblical counselor and mentor. Ele and her husband, Don, (CEO of Finishers Project) have four grown children and three grandchildren. In this short book, she provides some good principles, several (composite) examples, and a few testimonials of mentoring women.
Many women have no idea how to apply the Bible to everyday life, how to be a Christ-follower through the week. One of Ele's standard questions: "Do you want a quick fix, or do you desire to be transformed by Jesus?"
Ele says many people live their lives in compartments, like a fruit bowl. Each compartment of their life (piece of fruit in the bowl) stays separate from the others. So they keep their faith in Jesus in one piece, separate from the rest of their lives. When an issue comes up, the "Jesus" piece of life does not come into play. But life is meant to be more like a cake than a bowl of fruit. The ingredients are blended and Jesus is in every bite, every area of life. (17-18)
Spiritual mentoring begins with relationships -- our relationship with Jesus, with our family, and with others. It begins with reading the Scripture and a hunger for right living. It begins with a deep desperation to know Jesus, for spiritual authenticity.
Your family will never be ideal, but you must have authentic relationships, including being the same family in public as at home. Things must be right at home before we can help those outside the home. The younger generations are sick of the hypocrisy that they experienced in their homes and churches. They may love Jesus even while they don't love His family.
Ele's experience as a missionary in Argentina brought a huge variety of hardships that helped make her desperate for Jesus. But even scrubbing the filthy church bathroom floors became a bridge to be accepted by, and develop relationships with, women who would have considered her an outsider. Relationships are key -- relationships in "working clothes."
"If you are serious about having spiritual significance in the lives of others, God will find a way to make you hungry for Him, authentic at home, and approachable to others." (37) Are you willing?
Definition: "Spiritual mentoring is coming alongside of and partnering with who the Holy Spirit is being in the life of another person and infusing truth into that person's reality." (41) It is coming alongside, as a co-traveler. It is getting beyond a person's reputation and persona and joining in their thoughts, intention, and direction as a person. It is not being the Teacher or the Counselor but a "junior partner" to the Teacher.
"It means that we hear and recognize the Spirit's voice and respond quickly and appropriately not only in our lives but also in the lives of others. It means that spiritual mentoring is not about us but about Jesus." "To mentor as Jesus did is to focus on the life of another. It is to come alongside of someone, helping that person on his or her journey. … It is done one-on-one, life-on-life in the quiet corners of our very busy world." (43)
"A spiritual mentor needs to know the truth and then to know how and when to infuse that truth into the reality of the mentee's life." "Infusing truth into another person's reality can only be done by taking that person to Jesus. Infusing truth is done by partnering with who the Holy Spirit is desiring to be in the other person's life. It is done by active listening and by drawing on our own life experience with Jesus in order to form helpful and insightful questions for the mentee. Truth is infused by praying with and for the other person." (44)
"The most effective tool to help someone else become independently dependent on Jesus is active listening…." (46) "All that is necessary is Jesus, His Word, two fellow travelers, and time…nothing more." (47)
"Spiritual mentoring is walking alongside of another person in his or her spiritual journey with the focus on Jesus in their life in general." (47) "The objective...is to help the mentee become independently dependent on Jesus, not on us." (48)
Basic qualifiers: Be a woman of the Word of God, a woman of faith, a woman of prayer, a woman of good people skills, and a woman with time to 'be' in another's life on a significant level.
Being a spiritual mentor is a high mark. It is more than filling in blanks. He desires that we know truth, not just facts. He yearns for us to become skilled in the application of truth in real life.
Steps to begin a mentoring relationship: Pray for guidance. Respond to the Spirit. Pray for confirmation when you are approached. Meet one-on-one. Invest sufficient time, both with them and on their behalf. Be prepared. Choose what you will study (the Bible, not a topic. Ele usually begins with John.) Let the mentee share (Listen, don't interrupt and tell your own stories). Study God's Word. Glean from the text (Look for observations and questions from the text, not about the text. "'Crawl into' the text and see it from every experiential angle.") Record thoughts and questions.
Help the mentee discover how to put Jesus in their everyday life. Have the mentee write down any questions, thought or insights. Have her jot down what she senses the Holy Spirit is showing her.
Active listening is a critical role. "An active listener is one who intently listens to another person with the goal of being able to identify with the life of the one sharing in order to be a more effective tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit in the other person's life." (88) Do not interject your own life history and experiences with the idea of changing the person. Come alongside and infuse truth into her reality. The focus is on Jesus, not you. Allow the person to empty out, asking insightful question to clarify what the person has said and better understand the situation (not to satisfy your curiosity).
"This life isn't about being personally fulfilled; it's about becoming more and more like Jesus through, in, and in spite of the particular circumstances that life may afford us." (99)
"As you partner with who the Holy Spirit is being in their lives, the enemy will become apparent. Your task as a spiritual mentor will be to infuse the truth of Scripture into that reality." (102)
When a person wants to be mentored a door is opened that breathes hope, but welcoming another into the deepest part of life brings a concern that whispers, "And may that someone be worthy. May that person not betray me. May I be safe with that person. Please, God, may I be safe." (121)
What are the results? Our culture is addicted to results. If we only measure by numbers, we're in trouble. Jesus' twelve left him. But that wasn't the end of the story. Results are continual, progressive and slow growing. And often we don't know the results. God does. And that's the way it should be.
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