What Is A Good Mentor

Four characteristics of good spiritual mentors, for effective disciple-making.

Many of us want to mentor another man (just as we would like to be mentored by someone ahead of us). When the subject of mentoring comes up, I am often asked in one way or another, "What does a good mentor look like?" I would suggest the following characteristics make for a good mentor.

ONE | Good mentors have a disposition for growth & aren't perfect.
No one has arrived in their spiritual life so if we are waiting for that to happen, we will be waiting forever. What matters is that we have a commitment toward healthy growth in our spiritual lives and are both receptive to feedback and willing to adjust our character to match that of Jesus Christ. Perfection is not possible, but a willingness to strive for perfection is the call of the mentor! Mentors who are passionate about being receptive to Jesus can point others toward being receptive to him. And as we mentor others, we will also enhance, sharpen, and develop our faith and learn great lessons from those we are mentoring.


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TWO | Good mentors are willing to honestly share their lives.
None of us can relate to perfect people because not one of us is perfect. Truth is that mentors may initially pretend they have life altogether. But mentees need mentors who have experienced success and failure, for it is in the conflict that the man we are is carved and chiseled into something more significant. As we face struggles, we learn to reach for virtues of manhood like courage, faith, and action. Often, mentoring is helping others avoid some of the dumb mistakes we have made by learning from places we have blown it in marriage, relationships, work, and life. That requires honesty and transparency and allowing others to dig into our own lives.

THREE | Good mentors don't create disciples of self but of Jesus.
It is an honor to mentor others. It is also easy to believe that if our mentee becomes more like us that they will be better people. The truth is, God created them different from us. Our goal is not to convince them to do as we do or to share all of our convictions but to model, the master mentor with teaching from the Word with the goal of becoming like Christ. This is the literal meaning of the word Christian - "Little Christ." It is also the inferred meaning of the word disciple - "Student of Christ."

FOUR | Good mentors ask, not tell.
Mentors do not always have to have the right answers. Believing this is why I think most mentors disqualify themselves from mentoring, they think they do not have the correct answers. But this is okay, and we need to get comfortable with not having all the answers. Effective mentors help others think wisely and biblically and prayerfully to determine what God wants in their situation. The Socratic method of asking the right questions to spur good thinking is far superior to the direct way of answering their dilemmas ourselves. Our job is to offer perspective and wisdom while pointing them to the Scriptures and prayer so that the Holy Spirit can work in their life. Jesus, as a good mentor, was always asking questions and getting people to think critically. Yes, there are moments to teach, but questions create dialogue and mentors know how to dig out the best in others.

For more information on how to be a mentor or mentor others, read:

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.