In the beginning, a mentoring relationship may feel a bit mechanical or robotic as you try on this new hat. As you work through the Three-thirds plan and use the FLEX method, your interactions may seem superficial. But you can move from this awkward place toward a real life-changing relationship.
Any New Skill Can Feel Mechanical at First
As a mentor, you may be using a framework that is new to you. Just like driving a manual transmission car for the first few times, it’s going to feel awkward until you master it. Or it’s like learning a musical instrument. A new piano student must learn the framework and rules of music, like keys. scales and chords. But once the student has grown in confidence, more complexity can be added, and the rules can be broken.
Stick with the Tools
A framework exists for a reason. The tools we use at Faith After Mormonism are not random, but are full of purpose and intent. If you’re experienced with other tools and aren’t sure these tools will help you, just try the framework out for a bit and assess its value as you practice it.
But because many mentors may not know what to do in a mentoring relationship, our framework will help them get started and develop skills and wisdom for themselves.
One very important factor in choosing and using a framework is our goal to reproduce disciples who can make disciples themselves. As you use these tools, the people you mentor will learn how to use them as well. Because the framework is simple and standardized, it makes it more likely that those mentored will in turn mentor others, from one faith generation to another and another after that.
[Related: The FLEX Method of Mentoring]
[Related: The “Three-Thirds” Meeting Plan]
How to Move to Mastery
As you master the basic skills of mentoring, you will find that the relationship becomes less awkward and more productive. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Try to understand the purpose and principles behind each tool in our framework. This way you can use a tool for what it does best, and eventually customize. The framework won’t do what it’s supposed to do if it is not used in the right way or at the right time. So if a framework is not accomplishing its purpose in some situation, you don’t have to use it.
Mastery comes as you learn to surrender your plans to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In football, a play is most often successful when the team sticks to the plan. Pray that the Holy Spirit leads you as you plan, and typically that will be best approach. However, try to remain sensitive, humble, and willing to change plans if it becomes necessary.
One aspect of mastery is listening. Seek to understand the person you’re working with, even more than trying to get them to understand you.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
James 1:19 Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Remember: It’s a Journey with a Person
It helps if you keep in mind the right way to look at a mentoring relationship. Your role is not to simply correct doctrine as if people are robotic machines taking in information. Your role is to walk together with a valuable individual through all of life’s joys and challenges, applying Scripture to their real life situations.
Pray for Real Life Change
In the end, a mentoring relationship moves from going through the motions to become life-transforming through prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can motivate someone to follow Jesus. Only the Spirit can bring about change from the inside out, change that lasts a lifetime. He will use us to do it, but we have to stay connected to him in prayer for ourselves and for our mentorees.