As the new semester starts, people will be entering new schools for the first time. In a new school, or a new job, or a new town, it is important to find a mentor. As we advance in years it is important to mentor those who are younger, or less experienced, than ourselves. Here are 5 traits of a good mentor or teacher.
- Desire for face time. A mentor does best when they make time to speak face-to-face. The mentor can not only follow the words of their protege, but they can read the body-language. How much more than mere words is an appropriate touch from someone who understands!
- Desire for achievement. A mentor has an idea of excellence the novice lacks. Because each person in the relationship desires success, they can set goals and make a plan. This is a difference between a mentor relationship and a normal friendship. A mentor is leading their charge on the path to competency or maturity.
- Desire for frequent updates. Often desired personal goals have stages of development. The mentor does well if they state the expected stages or obstacles that will occur on the pathway to success. These signs become helpful markers, which give evidence of progress.
- Desire to strengthen. When a novice hits an obstruction, he or she often lacks a strategy or tactic to succeed. Although the mentor knows strategies, it is their responsibility to encourage their protege. The protege must develop an inner fortitude which sticks to the task during trials. The word for this inner fortitude, with regard to problem solving, is grit. The literature advocates development of a ‘growth mindset.’ Teachers do well if they develop growth mindset in their students over a lexicon of solutions to different tasks.
- Desire to encourage. Positive words which reframe negative situations can be life-giving to someone who is struggling. The simple act of listening can convince a discouraged person that they are not alone. Notes, phone calls, or texts are always welcome, but sometimes they come at just the right time. Naming strengths and previous successes can pick a person up and aid them toward the finish line.
Of course, the repeated word here is ‘desire.’ If we have no desire or passion, we will not be a good mentor. A mentor who has all the skills, but just doesn’t care is going to de-motivate because of their apathy. A mentor who is passionate about a shared vision is going to be the best help. Who do you have in your life who shares your vision and helps you toward your goals?
The above principles are drawn from the Apostle Paul in his relationship with one of his churches. He developed his mentoring skills in the power of the Holy Spirit. His goals for his proteges was that they would know God. You can see the principles in the following text:
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:8
But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.