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Mentoring That Makes a Difference

Encouragement can help people discern God's will for their lives.

In our prophetic role, pastors need to challenge people to keep the faith, fight the good fight. And often that means giving a forceful word to the congregation.

The other side of being prophetic, the side that the mentor highlights, is being an encourager. The goal is the same—living faithfully a Christian lifestyle—but the means are different: encouragement, affirmation, praise.

As a mentor I don't want to tell people what God's will is for them; I want them to discover it for themselves. And that happens best, I've noticed, when I affirm what's going right with a person.

  1. Express encouragement regularly. A young lawyer in a class I taught recently wrote a paper on 1 Corinthians 15. He didn't just parrot back my lectures, however. He went beyond what I had taught, doing his own study and making his own breakthroughs. He grappled with issues we hadn't discussed in class; he dared to draw his own conclusions. It occurred to me as I read his work that I was learning from this student. So on his paper, along with his grade, I wrote a note saying his ideas had inspired me.

    Sometime later he told me that little note had bolstered his confidence to work through his own thoughts and draw his own inclusions. I had confirmed that his thinking was sound, that his ideas were exciting and helpful to me. He began to have the confidence that he could teach.

    I didn't plan for that one note to have that impact, but when I regularly encourage, some of my notes and words will.

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