Parenting - Ideas and Insights - Mentoring

To Teach what is Proper
Ideas for Parents, Insights for others
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September 1997
    I like Saint Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. I like their plain practical good advice. But where Timothy is treated to a list of "what to do", Titus is given more "how and why" advice. Perhaps Titus' character was better suited to such teaching. Or perhaps in the greater isolation of Crete, he needed to discern solutions to problems Paul could not anticipate. Certainly neither Paul nor Titus had much experience of how to be a woman in Crete. Instead, Paul advised Titus to rely on the experts.  

    When I tried to fathom how, with a divorced athiest mother for a role model, I myself might become a good Christian wife; Titus 2.3-4 came as a ray of light. I chose role models from the godly elder women in the Church and was blessed by their example. I venture to believe too, that they were blessed by the opportunity to teach.  

    The relationship between an involved role model and an inexperienced colleague is called "mentoring". The mentor offers her protege an increased chance of success. The protege offers her mentor assurance that her life-work will continue in another generation. The mentoring relationship depends on three important prerequisites.   

    • Mentors must share their protege's goal. An older person who tries to subvert a younger person to carry out her own agenda is not acting as a mentor. Goals are hard to discern, and its easy to assume that another's goals must be the same as your own, because your own are so obviously right. Even agreeing on a goal such as "to be good wives and mothers" may not be enough. For one person, that may mean "to be accepted in the best social circles and keep a spotless house", to another it might mean "to share my husbands interests and offer my children a range of experiences." The apparently-like goals may be fundamentally contradictory.
    • Mentors must themselves be successful. What a mentor brings to the mentoring relationship is her experience. A protege accepts that experience because it will help her succeed. So, a woman who is trying to be a godly wife will have no desire to follow in the footsteps of one whose husband does not call her blessed. A mother who is trying to raise children to the glory of the Lord will not draw on the practices of one whose children are apostate.
      Mentors must have the trust of their proteges. The ministry of mentoring cannot function if mentors and proteges live on different time-tables and move in different paths, such that they rarely meet or reveal their interests to one-another. Trust is built from pleasant recollection of time spent together.
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