To be a mentor, you need to get one thing straight from the beginning. It’s not just about our skills and knowledge. It is also very important to also have the right character and attitudes, because that’s what we’re going to inevitably pass on to others.
Character Is Vitally Important in a Mentoring Relationship
Character matters, first of all, because it matters to God. God desires that we have a heart that reflects him. This is true whether you are a mentor or not.
But the kind of person you are matters in mentoring because character is something that gets passed down and transmitted, even unintentionally. Our goal as mentors is not just to help people gain biblical knowledge. It’s about helping them follow Jesus. That means life-change. So whatever your character is – good or bad – it’s very likely that it will be transmitted to others.
Jesus Sets the Example for the Character of a Mentor
There is a lot more to character than we can expound on here. But the most important place to start is to think about what reflects or exemplifies Jesus. He always acted with compassion and love. But he didn’t shy away from speaking the truth.
Here are some other important character traits for mentoring.
- Transparent. You’re vulnerable enough and secure enough in God’s grace to let your life be visible, including your faults and challenges. You don’t have to have everything worked out, or have all the answers. This is especially true when mentoring people from a perfectionistic religion, because they’ve been trained to put on a facade. But because of God’s unconditional grace, it’s okay to be who you are.
- Patient. Maybe it took you years to understand some aspect of Christian doctrine or life. But it’s easy to expect others to get to the same place right away. People have their own unique background and experience. We need to be patient with those we mentor.
- Integrity. The Bible talks about being above reproach, which means that your lifestyle is consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
- Dependence on God.
- Seek to understand, not be quick to cast judgement.
- Seek dialogue, not lecture.
- Avoid an “I’ll set you straight” attitude.
[Related: To Help Transitioning Mormons Takes Patience]
How to Know If You Possess the Right Character
As we assess ourselves, we can go to two extremes. We can be blind to our own faults, or can be hypercritical of ourselves. With that in mind, Jesus gives us an important way to evaluate ourselves.
Luke 6:45 For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Words are extremely telling of our character. Others can see, based on your words and also on how you live, what your character is really like. Your trainer can discern some of this during the training process. Through the challenges of mentoring, areas of our weaknesses will be revealed.
How to Grow in Personal Character
First, you need to recognize that it’s a good thing when character is exposed, even in a painful way. This is a blessing because it shows us where we need to grow.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves.
If God is putting your character to the test, it is because he loves you!
Second, pray and ask God for a right heart. If good character matters to God, we can ask him and he will work in us.
Meditate on and obey Jesus’s teachings. His teaching is packed full of good character.
Surround yourself with those who have good character. Choose wisely what people you will allow to influence you the most.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
All in all, character is really important in mentoring, because mentoring is about who a person becomes and how that is reflected in their lives.