6 Qualifications of Spiritual Mentor
The qualifications of a good mentor.
I am convinced that we connect with people more out of our brokenness than our successes. A good mentor shares similar struggles and insecurities, but they will have made significantly more progress in addressing these struggles than you have. But sharing similar insecurities is not enough to make a good mentoring relationship. A mentor's job is to point you to Jesus in a way that is best suited for your personality and spiritual gifts.
Any mentor you choose should meet some minimum qualifications:
Check out our special interview with one of our spiritual mentors:
Six Qualifications of a good Spiritual Mentor
- Trustworthy: If you can’t trust your mentor than you will never share the total truth. If you can’t be honest then you will never meet your spiritual goals. How can you know if someone is trustworthy? This is how I play the game: After I identify a potential mentor, but before I ask to be mentored, I share with them a benign fact about myself that no-one else knows (and that I wouldn’t care if anyone else would know). Then I wait to see if that information comes back to me from another source. It's the gossip-check game. If it fails there is no chance a mentoring relationship would work.
- Raw honesty: If your mentor can’t tell you the truth, even if that truth hurts your feelings, than it will do you zero good. A good mentor can offend you compassionately. Sometimes we need to hear the raw truth about ourselves to shock us out of denial. Now, I warn you, this is where many mentoring relationships go awry. Why? Because a truth-teller must be connected with a truth-receiver. You must humbly accept the truth even if it hurts. Of course the truth is more easily accepted if you know your mentor has your best interest in mind and is not serving a selfish agenda. This also means that your mentor is not afraid to ask you difficult questions that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Serves you and not an agenda: Your mentor needs to help cultivate the work of the Holy Spirit in you for the plans that God has for you. Sometimes pastors can make poor mentors because they unknowingly are serving an agenda to fill “needs” in the church. They want to mold you into what the organization needs and not what God is calling you to do. So be careful. A good mentor will ask you to identify 3-5 areas in your life where you feel God wants to address and will work from that list. Even if they do not ask you can still prepare by writing down what you hope to accomplish and presenting the list at the very beginning. Make it clear that you want to address these areas. If they are not willing to do so, or if the conversation constantly changes to something else, you might need to take corrective action by reminding your mentor why you are there or finding another mentor.
- Humility: A good spiritual mentor will constantly be pointing to how Jesus has dealt with the brokenness of life. The stories will revolve around God’s grace and mercy being revealed in the midst of personal doubt and despair. Jesus will be the reason for victory over sin, not personal willpower and strength. This is true humility: “I know where my help comes from.”
- Patience: You will test the limits of your mentor’s patience. A good spiritual mentor will see the breakthrough you are about to make and patiently wait for you to make it. While it seems so close to your mentor it may seem miles away to you. Your mentor will patiently wait for the Spirit to help you close that gap. Frankly, that can be frustrating and that is ok. It is frustrating when I have to wait to give my daughter her Christmas presents because I know the joy she will have once she gets the gift. I force myself to wait, but the anticipation kills me. The mentor feels the same way about you and the gift the Holy Spirit is revealing in you.
- Follows Jesus - and you know it. - If you can't tell that your Spiritual mentor is following Jesus then how can you be sure that she is going to teach you to follow Jesus? Paul tells the Church at Galatia that evidence, or fruit, of being filled with the Holy Spirit is that a person demonstrates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Your spiritual mentors should have the evidence of the majority of these in their lives.
So, we know where to find and how to weed out mentoring candidates, but what exactly do you ask a mentor? The next stop in our series on spiritual mentors brings insight into the type of questions that you should ask your mentor and the questions that your mentor should be asking you.