The Bible never actually uses any of the terms mentoring, mentorship, mentee, or mentor. However, there are examples of mentorship throughout the scriptures. With research, it becomes abundantly clear that there is extensive power in mentorship.
What does that word actually mean, though?
What does it mean to be a mentor?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mentor as ”a trusted counselor or guide.” Katherine Lewis expands on that and defines a mentor as “someone who is helping you with your career, specific work projects, or general life advice through the goodness of his or her own heart.” My definition of mentor includes altruism and some sense of “paying it forward” since most mentors have themselves been mentored in the past. (Reh)
Mentorship offers the ability for one person to learn from another, whether it is in reference to work or the personal life.
The Word Mentor
The actual word, mentor, predates the Bible by several hundred years. That’s because it is rooted in a story written by Home in The Odyssey.
When Odysseus, the King of Ithaca, must leave to fight the Trojan War, he turned to his son’s teacher, Mentor, to look after the kingdom. When Odysseus is left to wander, for ten years before he finds his home, his son ventures out to look for him with the help of Mentor. When the father and son find each other, they are able to take their kingdom back and save Ithaca.
Both son and father learned from Mentor and depended on this person as a teacher, a leader, a wise person, and an adviser (Story of “Mentor”)
Throughout time, there have been numerous well-known mentoring relationships, including:
- Socrates and Plato
- Haydn and Beethoven
- Freud and Jung
While all of these examples have become well known, some of the best examples can actually be found in the Bible. Not only do Biblical principles point toward the power of mentorship, but also people throughout the scriptures showed how this power can be used.
Mentoring in the Bible
In this article, we will use Biblical principles to establish how powerful mentoring actually can be in the personal lives of children and adults. Many of those principles are actually exhibited through mentor and mentee relationships of people in the Bible. Some of the people we will discuss in the following articles included:
- Moses and Joshua
- Barnabas and Paul
- Elijah and Elisha
- Naomi and Ruth
- Deborah and Barak
- Elizabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus
- Paul and Timothy
- Jesus and his disciples
We will discuss these in the following articles, and we will even go beyond these examples of mentorship to see the principles behind the choices that those people made.
The Lack of Mentoring in Today’s Church
One of the best ways to see how powerful mentoring can actually be is to see what happens when it doesn’t work very well. Nothing shows this better than the course of the modern church.
Once upon a time, people all worshiped together under one roof, whether they were elderly, middle aged, young adults, or children. They all associated with each other and they all spent time in each others presence. This gave people numerous opportunities to find mentorship in people around them.
Things have changed since then, and now it is more common for varying groups to go to specific churches with other people in the same group, such as:
- Young Adults
- New Christians
- Elderly Adults
- Middle Agers
Because each of these groups wants to get together and worship in their own way, the result is not necessarily good in the mentorship aspect.
They are not giving each other opportunities to work as mentors. Threads by Lifeway performed a study that shows some stark evidence of this issue:
“According to our research, 45 percent of unchurched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important. 68 percent of churched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences very important.” (The Biblical Model of Mentoring, 2010)
In other words, people want mentors. They want opportunities to learn from others. However, they are not always given that chance.
Statistics on the Power of Mentorship
Finally, before we get into scriptures, let’s look at some statistics that show the impact mentorship can have on society in very different aspects.
- Students who have mentors and meet with them regularly are less likely than their peers to skip school by 52%.
- Children who have mentors are 27% less likely to begin drinking alcohol at a young age.
- Youth who have mentors are 40% less likely than their peers to try illicit drugs.
Now that we have established what mentorship is, how it has been used in society, and how it seems to be lacking in modern churches, in our next article let’s start looking at the scriptures and explore Biblical principles that point to extreme power in mentorship.
Know that I am sending you the best that God has to offer you and I will see you up, up, and over the top.