What is required? 

What is required to be a mentor or a spiritual friend to another? 

Many times we overcomplicate this question. For one reason or another, we tell ourselves, I simply don’t have what it takes.

I have found over and again that these four questions below have a way of orienting our hearts around what is required to walk well with others

Allow these questions to ready your heart:  

  1.    Am I willing to listen? Listening is fundamental to building trust in the relationship. By listening attentively to one another we remind each other that our lives profoundly matter.
  1.    Am I willing to simply be a spiritual companion? I need to leave behind any ambitions to be a savior or a problem-solver or a fix-it person in another’s life. The gift we can promise to another is our presence and genuine interest along the way.
  1.    Am I willing to love? It is un-love that makes people unwell, and it is love, and love alone that make people well (Karl Menninger). To choose to walk alongside another on their spiritual journey is to choose to love them. 
  1.     Am I willing to be myself? When I pretend to be someone I am not in a relationship or a small group, trust erodes. It is also a recipe for burnout; wearing a mask is exhausting. Allow the Spirit to gently free you up to be more comfortable in your own skin as you walk with others (Romans 12:3). 

I have also found over the years that far more of you, upon reflection on these questions, begin to discover that you do have what it takes to be a mentor or spiritual friend.  

So, where are these self-examining questions stirring your heart and mind today? Any discoveries, barriers, or longings you are bumping into as you consider this invitation to mentor another or be an intentional spiritual friend for another? Confess your thoughts and feelings and hopes in the form of a written prayer. Share your prayer with a friend. 


These four questions are adapted from Thomas Hart’s book The Art of Christian Listening (Paulist Press, 1980). 


Mentoring Practices: Prayerfulness

The third practice for a friend or mentor to walk well with others is prayerfulness.

Prayer in this mentoring context is about cultivating a deep trust in the loving movement of God in the life of another. As mentors or friends, we pay attention to the everyday life of others, helping them identify and see what is already in play and at work. Amidst the comings and goings of work and school, amidst the meals and chores, amidst the anxieties and arguments and joys of family and community, we become what Barbara Brown Taylor calls “detectives of divinity.” 

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learn to be a mentor

A small yet powerful matter

I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.

Rufus Jones (1863-1948)

Adults need a space and place to move deeply into their own experience and grow in the light of Jesus and his way in the world. Simply telling others where they must go or what they must do won’t cut it. Our mentoring tables need to be set for unhurried conversation.

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