What is a Mentor? How Do You Mentor Someone?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is a mentor? What does a mentor do or how do you mentor someone or allow someone to mentor you?

What is Mentoring?

Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. A mentor can be a trusted accountability partner who you can share your failures and shortcomings with and know they’ll keep it confidential. It’s a “safe-base” where you can share all your failures and receive help from someone who’s likely been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt. A mentor is someone who helps you grow your skills, make better decisions, and gain new perspectives about God and the Bible. Mentoring is a long-term learning relationship with the primary purpose being personal growth in the Lord, becoming more like Jesus Christ, and accepting with humility what the mentor shares with them.

Paul and Timothy

Every Timothy or young lady needs a mentor like Paul or a Pauline. And ever older, more experienced believer should be mentoring someone and not just family. Every “Timothy” needs a “Paul” to mentor them but every Paul needs a Timothy that they can mentor. Men and women need mentoring. The Apostle Paul instructs the older women “to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:4-5). The “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2) and “urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). Regardless of their age, a good mentor should “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1).

Warts and All

I actually think it’s a good idea to share your failures with someone you’re mentoring. It gives them hope that they too can fail and yet persevere in the faith. Many I know have had their dark nights of the soul. They blew it big time or failed at something important or wrecked a relationship, but its okay. We know that failure is not final. It’s part of the journey. God tells us that even “the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Prove 24:16). Mentors fall too, but “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand” (Psalm 37:24).

Mentoring with Humility

When you commit to mentoring another lady be sure you manage your time appropriately (redeem the time) so that when she needs you, you are there.

Paul was extraordinarily humble and considered himself the chief of sinners and least of all the apostles, even though I see him as the least of all sinners and the greatest of all the apostles. If you can’t be honest with your mentor about all your mistakes and failures, then the one mentoring you can help you all the more. But if you leave out some critical mistakes you made and don’t share this with your mentor, they can’t help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future. When the mentor also shares their life’s mistakes, the person being mentored can be more comfortable when they also fail or make mistakes. They can learn that they learn from their mistakes, just like their mentor did.

Silent Mentoring

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “More is caught than taught.” If so, I think that’s the perfect description of what my pastor friend calls “silent mentoring.” I must admit, I had not even thought of silent mentoring before, but that’s what it is. It’s easy to see how someone else reacts to life and how they use biblical wisdom in making choices. You can be mentored by someone just by watching them. I had never thought of silent mentoring until he mentioned it. My pastor friend and I mentor one another since our mentors have passed onto glory and we’re getting old enough to share some of our mistakes and what we’ve learned the hard way. Mentoring is about being transparent and showing the young person you’re mentoring that you’re not perfect either and are still a “work in progress.” By the young person seeing your life, they can catch things you might not be able to teach verbally. Somethings are best learned by watching; more caught than taught, as they say. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words, and so is the life of a godly, older mentor.

Advice from Paul

I remind the young men that I am mentoring that they will be taking my place someday, so I tell them as I tell myself to “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim 4:16). That’s just what my mentor used to say to me before he went to be with the Lord. He loved to quote Timothy and would quote, “O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 6:11-14).

Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt. c. 1657


We are all being mentored by God’s Holy Spirit and by God’s holy Word, the Bible. It continually knocks off the rough edges from our hearts and shows us where we come up short. As we examine the Word of God, it examines us. When we read the Bible, the Bible reads us. It comforts the afflicted but afflicts the comfortable. Allow or yield to God’s Word and His Spirit and let Him mentor you day by day as you live your life in Christ.

Here is some related reading for you: How to Use Your Life Experience to Mentor and Help Others

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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