From the Christian Pundit
“Mentoring is so American,” a friend from another country told me. We were talking about older women mentoring younger women, and she had a different take on it than most people around me. “Where I’m from, people would never do it. They just take part in the life of the church and try to be faithful in their personal lives.” What she meant was that the early 21st century American version of mentoring—more of a Evangelical, programmatic Titus 2 system—was something unique to this culture. And she is probably right: the one-on-one coffee dates, note taking, and arranged, lay shepherding isn’t exactly something that has a timeless or universal feel. Not that this “American” version of mentoring is wrong, it’s just a cultural expression of Protestant America trying to help the older women teach the younger women.
Biblically, and as far from cultural influences as we can get, mentoring is actually a relationship between two Christians—an older one and a younger one—for the purpose of fostering growth in grace in both people, but especially the younger one. Mentoring is telling a younger believer, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Mentoring is not stopping to work so that you can run and have a coffee and ask how their week was. Mentoring is not a programme that you follow. Paul did not go out for shawarma once a week with Barnabas to ask about his quiet time, or start an accountability system in the congregation. They went on a mission trip together; they actually lived out the Christian life in close proximity, working towards the same goal. This does not mean that asking about devotions and having accountability (or shawarma!) is bad; it means that they are small parts of the much more comprehensive and full lifestyle that biblical mentoring is.
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