Important steps in spiritual growth
In healthy Christian mentoring relationships, we will cover almost every aspect of a person’s life. It is perfectly normal not to feel equipped to address every issue or question. Mentors can still encourage others along their different stages of spiritual growth.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1. Develop basic spiritual disciplines
The first priority for anyone who’s interested in growing their faith is to become disciplined in learning God’s Word and walking with God on a daily basis. This means that a mentee learns about God’s character and begins to see things from His perspective, rather than be stuck in their own. This is the first stage of anyone’s spiritual growth and where all mentoring relationships should begin.
Psalm 1:1-2 ESV Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
2. Deal with immediate questions
Next, we can ask what our mentee would like advice, encouragement and/or prayer for. Lovingly ask questions about things they may not have considered. This is a way to open their minds to possible snags from their ways of thinking, what other options there are and what is God’s views of such issues. The ultimate goal is to have our mentee seek the answers from God’s Word and God himself.
Proverbs 8:17 ESV I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
3. Identify where to renew the mind
It is always important to understand a mentee’s background and belief systems, because we will always find something that will inadvertently influence and impede their ability to develop a wholesome relationship with God. The Bible says we need to renew our minds in order to grow in Christ. It entails a lot of “unlearning” and “re-learning” of our perspectives, like a reboot of our internal operating systems.
Romans 12:2 ESV Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
4. Develop the courage to look within
Growth often doesn’t happen without some “growth pains”. Even the apostle Paul talked about having to confront his own issues and shortcomings.
Romans 7:14-15 ESV For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Be a cheerleader for our mentee in his or her efforts to wrestle with their “old self” or to wrestle with God. We are all diamonds in the rough and need a deeper and deeper work by God so that our “new self” can come through and the beauty that He put in us can shine.
There may be times that mentees will not be willing or ready to deal with their sins and issues. Beware of this and don’t allow the relationship to become one where our mentee becomes frustrated, hurt, resentful, and evasive. Keep praying for the mentee until he or she is ready to confront their own issues. Stay a friend and available, but put a pause to our mentoring relationship for the time being.
5. Confess sins and repent
We all have sins that we must come clean with God about. He is our benevolent Father who knows everything about us, and who is waiting for us to open up about areas in our relationship that fracture our intimacy with Him. As mentors, we must encourage our mentees to confess their sins to God with people they trust as witnesses.
James 5:15-16 ESV And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
6. Learn to die to oneself
To please God, we must actively choose to die to our own desires, ways of thinking, fleshly inclinations, and worldly influences. God always has a better plan than what we can conjure up for ourselves. This is actually the wisest action we can take on a daily basis.
1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”
Therefore show our mentee what “dying to ourselves” means by encouraging them to seek God’s will first in every area of their lives. Building faith and trust in God as a beginner takes time. So keep praying, stay encouraging, and be patient.
7. Restore and reconcile relationships
Broken relationships are often a sign of deep hurts, misunderstanding, unforgiveness, and judgment that haven’t been given up to God. That hurts our relationship with God because He also loves the very people we despise and find hard to tolerate.
God doesn’t give us the authority to take justice into our own hands because justice belongs to God. So we need to remind ourselves that restoration of broken relationships is never about gaining justice, but about exercising God’s grace. God’s grace is beautiful because it’s extended when the other person doesn’t “deserve” it.
Most crucially, restoration is about aligning our hearts with God’s, it’s not just about the relationship itself. We may even need to forgive people who are already long dead. Giving up the “spiritual toxins” inside us is a critical part of spiritual growth. So gently encourage our mentee to confront their own broken relationships, with God’s help.
Matthew 5:23-26 ESV So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
8. Seek our personal ministry vision
Next, ask your mentee to pray about how they can discover God’s plans for his or her life. God has a set of plans for every one of us, so it’s important that we fulfill them and blossom into our full potential.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
9. Learn how to stand up against strongholds
One sign of spiritual growth is living in the fruit of the Spirit. If our mentee is still struggling and not experiencing real and lasting spiritual breakthroughs, then we should help them to identify where there might be family or demonic strongholds in their lives. He or she may, for example, need to cut off generational curses, renounce spiritual ties and a past practice of fortune-telling, and remove new age charms from their homes etc.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
10. Start to mentor others
When people’s lives are transformed as they experience Jesus Christ for themselves, they will naturally want to pass on the good news to those they care about. Actively encourage our mentee to identify people whom they can love well, influence and speak words of life to i.e. whom they can start to mentor.
Romans 13:8 ESV Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
In fact, we should consider making this one of the conditions when we start mentoring others. If we have the antidote to all of the world’s pains and self-destructive nature, wouldn’t we want to share it with others too?
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