Well, to begin with, we ought to consider what it means to be a mentor. The Oxford Dictionary defines this term as "an experienced or trusted adviser" and includes synonyms like "guide" and "counselor." Take a moment to reflect on these words—what do you envision? What I see is a person of experience and influence not a manager of thoughts and activities.
A teacher is a mentor to a student just as a parent is a mentor to a child, but they are not the only ones involved. The key component is God, and when we connect the dots, a simple triangle is formed.
God occupies the top spot, but there was a time when He descended to earth to walk beside man. Now, we are His disciples, His students, but sometimes we step into the position of mentor to shepherd those in our care. Still, regardless of the corner we happen to be standing on, God remains supreme. All eyes are turned upward toward Him. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! (1 Chronicles 16:11).
God works through mentors of all kinds, reaching through us to touch other lives. But, really, the ultimate goal is for God to connect directly with every individual so He can do His work. For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him. (Isaiah 28:26). That means, contrary to the trends of modern culture, a mentor actually serves in a supporting role. It's challenging but we must learn step back a bit and make sure we don't put ourselves in God's way. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
The world, however, has flipped this triangle on its head. Parents and children are expected to look to God in Spiritual matters but answer to earthly experts when it comes to everything else. It's a division that leaves us toggling between two masters. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24a). What’s worse is when the relationship between the world's authorities and God has been broken or is non-existent.
It's true that God has placed people in positions of leadership and we are to submit to their authority. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2).
The issue is, those who lead are also expected to do so in the service of God, not in a way that contradicts or replaces Him. There can only be one master, and yet mankind challenges God’s sovereignty from every angle. For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43). Likewise, those responsible for shaping the lives of others are held to a higher standard, as well. Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1).
So how do we turn our own little part of the world right-side up again? Well, restoring proper balance and embracing our freedom in Christ is a good place to start. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23). The next step is to examine the remaining points of this triangle to see what the Christ-like mentor/parent and student/child relationship looks like. Then we can apply this to our own lives.
See the Mentor "Job Description" HERE.
See the Student "Job Description" HERE.