When I applied this parenting mindset to helping my struggling friend, I realized that what she really needed in addition to biblical study was friendly pop-in visits, encouraging phone calls, occasional late night sob-and-pray sessions, and lots and lots of hope and cheerleading. Only then was she strengthened to act on the biblical teaching she knew applied to her situation.
If you’re involved in caring for and mentoring others on a regular basis, ask yourself these questions to see if your predominant approach is more like teaching or parenting:
- Do I tend to lecture like a teacher, or listen like a parent?
- Do I want others to understand my thoughts, or do I work to appreciate their perspective?
- Do I wait for someone to ask me a question if they don’t understand something, or do I pursue that person, reaching out before I am asked for help?
- Do I simply invite those I mentor to help me in my ministry, or do I also invest my time in their unique passions and ministries?
- Do I find those I mentor improving only in how they explain and defend Christian doctrine, or do I see them exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit such as being patient with those who oppose them, serving outside their comfort zone, or choosing to resist the temptation to say unkind words to others?
Approaching mentoring with a parenting mindset isn’t that difficult. First, it’s important to be unwavering in our commitment to spending time with God ourselves, allowing him to mold our hearts to become more like his. The more we spend time with God, our Father, allowing him to change us in the deep places, the more we will default to a parenting mindset when we mentor others. Studying and meditating on biblical passages that emphasize God’s fatherly care for us can also help. Consider meditating on Psalm 103:13–14, Isaiah 43:1–7, Song of Songs 2:8–13, Zephaniah 3:14–17, or John 17:20–26.
Besides spending time with God, there are several practical ways you can ensure you’re mentoring with a parenting mindset:
- Record prayer requests, including dates of significant happenings, in your personal calendar. Connect with your mentee on those days with a text or phone call.