Nov 28 2018
Spiritual Mentoring is currently enjoying a new wave of interest especially among maturing adults.
The spiritual mentor role is a re-vocation, a re-dedication to Jesus in a different form. It’s a role required of us in our maturing years, a role that gives new direction and new purpose at a time when the agitation and emptiness of purposeless infects too many of us. Without the mentor role, says Fr. Adrian Van Kaam, “… our personality flattens out; it is robbed of the depth which comes from embracing the sufferings of friendship that bearing fruit always entails.” (Page 43, The Mystery of Transforming Love).
In their book Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Direction authors Anderson and Reese offer us a definition of spiritual mentoring.
Spiritual mentoring is a triadic relationship between mentor, mentoree, and the Holy Spirit, where the mentoree can discover, through the already present action of God, intimacy with God, ultimate identity as a child of God and a unique voice for kingdom responsibility. (Page 13).
As Jesus taught his friends (disciples) what he had learned from His Father (John 15:15), spiritual mentors likewise teach in word and in deed, in emotional composure and compassion, and in tolerance and transcendence what they themselves have learned from the many lessons of love given to them by Christ.
A spiritual mentor is able and willing to take the risk of telling his/her faith walk story, not as a repeated monologue, but rather as a lived experience parts of which will surface in the mentor relationship here and there as various needs for support, stability, structure, and satisfaction surface in the mentee’s life.
The spiritual mentor always seeks to speak from his/her God-center and to the God-center of the mentee.
The spiritual mentor approaches the mentee in respectful awe as he/she would reverently approach the altar of God, because the mentee is indeed the resting place of Jesus.
Spiritual mentoring, assert Anderson and Reese, is a way to recognize the already present action of God in the mentoree’s life.
Spiritual mentoring is not the province of the professional, but the domain of all the people of faith. We are all called to reflect the action of God in our hearts, minds, and lives.
The authors make a compelling point in their opening chapter, that ongoing spiritual growth and development for all Christians requires more than simply knowledge, essential facts; it requires guidance from a person who not only knows the word of God, but also puts faith into practice in her/his daily life.
A mentor, stands with another in a way that enhances not only learning of information about the person of Jesus, but demonstrates in all that he/she is, the way of living out the teaching of Jesus Christ.
It is in our answer to the call of mentorship that we not only bring hope and direction to others as Jesus commanded us, but in so doing, we simultaneously open ourselves up more fully to God’s grace which propels us closer to our internal treasure, our truest identity.
It is in the second half of life that the flicker of wisdom begins to grow in us. This flicker searches for the sustenance that can sustain it – spiritual mentoring is both the fuel and the product of wisdom growth.
Spiritual mentoring is essential for younger folks; it’s the mentor who, sometimes without ever knowing, brings the light of Christ. Mentoring is especially needed today as we face the tsunami of toxic media that can so forcefully pull us out to the sea of unfaithfulness.
To learn more about Spiritual Mentoring investigate Johnson Institute Course 104: THE ESSENTIALS OF SPIRITUAL MENTORING, SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, AND FAITH LIFE REVIEW FOR MATURING ADULTS
Until next time, stay light and be bright in grace,
Richard P. Johnson, PhD