Spiritual mentoring is an intentional, relational process for spiritual formation by which one person becomes a spiritual guide for one or several others. (Adapted from: Anderson, Keith R. & Randy D. Reese. Spiritual Mentoring. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.)
This evening and tomorrow, I will be giving a seminar on spiritual mentoring. My first session will be on the good news of the kingdom. Nowadays, when I am asked to teach about spiritual mentoring I always start by teaching on the good news of the kingdom because the starting point of spiritual mentoring or indeed whatever we do in the church is not what we do but what God is doing. Then we can see how what we do fits into God’s agenda.
Jesus’ main message was this: by His arrival into human history, the promised kingdom of God had drawn near (Mark 1:14–15). God had embarked on His project to make all things new. It is a mission that started with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and which will be completed when He comes again.
The first thing Jesus does after announcing the good news of the kingdom is to call forth disciples to follow Him (Mark 1:14–20). Followers of Jesus were meant to be the first fruits and the witnesses of the in-breaking kingdom. They were saved to be a people who reflected the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29–30). Therefore, if the church is to be in line with God’s Kingdom agenda she must give first priority to helping her members grow into Christlike maturity. And this is where spiritual mentoring comes in.
God has given us three key resources to help us grow in Christlikeness.
- He gives us His Spirit, which means He gives us Himself (2 Corinthians 3:12–18). God Himself is in the game to transform us and to equip us.
- He gives us His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We are not left on our own to figure out what is true and false, what is right and wrong. God speaks to us through His Word.
- He gives us His people. In shaping people relationally, which is what spiritual mentoring is, we are only imitating Jesus (Mark 3:14). He ministered to the masses but his key investment was in pouring His life into the lives of 12 disciples and He gave special attention to three of them.
So, if we are serious about being witnesses for Jesus and the good news of the kingdom, we must be serious about helping followers of Jesus grow in Christlikeness. This includes helping them to study the bible so that God can use the Word to transform them. We must also help them understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and how He provides them the guidance and power to be Christlike. And we must mentor them.
NB. Discipleship is what we are seeking to do — helping people grow in Christlikeness. Mentoring is the means by which we do it — an “intentional, relational process for spiritual formation by which one person becomes a spiritual guide for one or several others”.