Morgan Eisenga | Staff Writer
“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6, NLT.
With so many forks in the road, choosing the proper road to take is much easier said than done. Yet through mentorship with one another, we are able to find a sense of security for our decisions and nevertheless our futures, from those who’ve faced similar hardships, trials and forks in the road.
What is a Mentor?
According to the Oregon Youth Challenge Program, “A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors.”
While the word mentorship is not specifically written in the Bible, the Christian online resource LifeWay states that it is a biblical idea. It includes someone older than you, speaking wisdom and exemplifying Christ’s love into your life.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:4-9, NIV). God wants us to share our life experiences with others, especially those that demonstrate His power. When we share the stories of God, we are spreading the gospel of Christ.
The Need for Mentorship
According to LifeWay and their research on mentorship, 45 percent of unchurched young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important, while 68 percent of church-going young adults identified the opportunity to receive advice from people with similar life experiences as very important.
These results show the high demand of young adults who crave mentorship. “Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity,” LifeWay explains.
Azusa Pacific University believes in the scriptural command for mentorship, managing a mentorship program for almost 30 years.
“Mentorship is becoming incredibly important for the younger generation in all aspects of life,” Discipleship Mentoring Coordinator Jeanine Smith said. “You can access the best, the brightest and the greatest minds with your phone, through technology. You can hear the best speakers, get the best ideas, but it doesn’t always translate into a great life without that life-on-life connection.”
The purpose of APU’s mentorship program is to help people in their Christian discipleship and their following with Jesus. As college students, we need someone who supports and motivates us and helps mold us into young professionals. When people share personal stories, it creates a greater bond between the mentor and mentee.
Reasons for mentorship
As the younger generation, sometimes the hardest part is getting over the fact that we cannot do everything on our own. However, mentorship brings out the humility in ourselves and others, creating a safe environment to be vulnerable and honest.
Katie Foster graduated from APU in May 2016, and is now the Program Coordinator in the Office of Orientation and Transitions. During her junior year, she went through some drastic life changes and knew she needed an outlet. This is when she reached out to the APU mentorship program.
“I was first nervous to have a mentor because it would require me to let down my walls and be completely vulnerable with someone,” Foster said. “Over and over the Lord reminded me to live in community with others.”
Sometimes all we need is community and sharing with someone who has had similar experiences as us. It is sharing common life in Christ. Mentorship creates an atmosphere of teaching others and keeping one another accountable.
“I believe that people should have mentors because they provide insight beyond our own knowledge and wisdom beyond our years. They allow us to see the big picture and look past certain details,” Foster said. “Often times, we can feel alone in our struggles; however, having someone to walk alongside and hold you accountable is what true community is all about.”
Jesus gives us a perfect example of mentorship to His disciples, and He encouraged them to share with other people what they had learned.
Proverbs 27:17 reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT).
A mentor is not supposed to make you feel guilty but rather to encourage you to keep on going, offer insight and lead you to the Word. We all need a Paul, Barnabas and Timothy in our lives.
May a Paul speak truth and wisdom into us, a Barnabas encourage us and a Timothy share insight with us in our life.
May we, the younger generation, take the first step of reaching out to the older generation in search for mentors. We need their guidance, wisdom and encouragement to become the adults that God would have us be.