Mentoring is about adjusting Core Values. Core Values are basically our default position for everything we think and do. The best place to examine one’s Core Values is discovered in those situations in which we find ourselves under extreme stress. We all want to be cut some slack when we are under stress, and we need to cut each other slack at these times. None of us is usually at our best when under extreme stress. But the fact is that when we are under extreme stress we think and respond at our Core Value levels. You see, Core Values are not a list of nice thoughts and desired behaviors we have put on paper. Core Values are the default position from which we make decisions and take actions without the need for excessive thought. Therefore, when we are under stress and have minimal time or energy to give to thought, our Core Values are revealed in what we think, say, or do; as well as what we choose not to think, say, or do.
I can remember in my early days as a Christian being mentored by a youth director – he was working with me on my language (cursing). I felt the victory when I stopped using curse words, but my mentor asked me about what I thought, not just what I said. More work. I still remember the day when an event that would have usually resulted in a long litany of cursing actually ended without even a thought of a curse. Wow! I knew then that a change had occurred. My Core Values had been adjusted. More work. Then I remember the day when a very stressful event occurred and my thoughts were of what was best for the other person, not about me. And I felt I had taken a step into a place that was more like Christ.
Please understand me. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I still slip and slide at times (sin). But I struggle to be more like Christ every day in what I think, say and do. These are the Core Values of a Christian. Paul put it this way:
Phil 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Phil 3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV)
As a mentor, my job is to help mentorees to adjust their Core Values to be more like Christ in every area of their lives. My focus is not on the job, it’s on the person.
If you focus on the job, you are a coach, not a mentor. Now, there are times when mentors have to coach, but our focus is not the job, it’s the person.
If you focus on knowledge, you are a teacher, not a mentor. There are times when mentors have to teach, but our focus is not gaining or giving knowledge, it’s the person.
When I say our focus is on the person, I mean every aspect of a person’s life. In order to impact everything in a person’s life, we must help them adjust their Core Values to a Biblical perspective.
Look at what Paul said to the Ephesians.
Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Eph 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
Eph 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Eph 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
So, as a mentor, it’s my job to help my mentorees become more like Christ in all they do. This includes:
- Their relationship to God
- Their relationship to family and friends
- Their relationship to the community at large and the church
- Their fulfillment of God’s call in their lives
- Their vocations (how they put food on the table)
- Their relationship to themselves (including general knowledge, work skills, mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and physical health)
We cannot achieve this level of mentorship with meetings or seminars. It requires investing in each other’s lives in such a way that we are pressed by the Holy Spirit from all directions to become more like Christ – Adjusting our Core Values to those revealed in the Word of God.
Blessings!David Watson Irving, Texas