Over the past nine months I’ve had the opportunity to observe my boss at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship mentor people, including helping me with depression. As I walked past her office the other day, I overheard her offering advice to a younger individual.
From what I’ve observed, this is typical of her. She has a passion for helping people, a passion I believe more of us need to develop or strengthen.
This got me thinking about mentoring (also called discipling), especially the reasons people do it. So, I sat down at my desk, grabbed a pen and paper (I have a specific pen and paper I use — maybe it’s an autistic trait in me?), and wrote down nine reasons people mentor others.
Some of them are altruistic, some rooted in ego, and others are based on obligation. However, one transcends all others, fulfilling the greatest commandment and the one that is like it (cf. Matt 22:36-40).
So, without further ado (and because I know you probably skipped all that intro anyway), here are those nine reasons why people would mentor others.
1. It helps the one being mentored
Discipling someone helps them learn a new skill, grow as a person, and thus can help them in their life.
2. It benefits future generations
Each generation hopes the next will do more and be better than the previous generation, and mentoring younger folks contributes to this.
3. Mentoring looks good on our résumé/school transcript/permanent record
Community service, being a “big brother/sister,” and such socially-aware activities can help someone land a better job, get into a better school, or otherwise benefit the mentor.
4. Helping others makes us feel good
Many people say that helping others fulfills them, lifts them up, and makes them feel like they are making a difference.
5. It’s the right thing to do
Helping others is honorable, dignified, and reveals that the mentor has good character and morals.
6. Because they are family
This one is closely related to reason 5. Family members are supposed to help each other because, well, they’re family, and that’s what families do.
7. We’re commanded to mentor/disciple others
Jesus tells us to make disciples, and sometimes mentoring is a requirement in education or jobs.
8. Because we love others
Scripture tells us to love our neighbors, and many religions/philosophies also advocate loving those around us. This love can be a powerful motivator for mentoring.
9. Because God loves us and we love God
God’s love and grace transform people, changing their character so that mentoring is just as natural and breathing.
Of the nine reasons, only one fulfills the whole of the law and originates from the person character: God’s love.
While the other reasons may be good, they are not the best. Anyone can operate based on the first eight, but only a born-again believer in Christ who has been transformed by the grace of God will operate based on God’s love for them and their love for God.
If you do things because of reasons 1-8, then I applaud you. I also challenge you, though, to seek Jesus and let him move you to a higher plane by transforming your character to that of himself.
What other reasons might people mentor others?