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How to set spiritual goals in mentoring relationships

Mentor / Principles
God’s first commandment is to love Him. Hence, our ultimate goal in mentoring a believer is to show him or her how to love God and not just to elicit some behavioural changes. We may set goals that are behavioural in nature, but our ultimate aim to for them to grow more in love with God each day.


Mark 12:30-31 ESV  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

1. Start with the foundational spiritual disciplines

As a start, it is helpful to encourage someone we mentor to develop sound spirituals disciplines. No one grows to love God simply by learning from others. They need to start developing a personal relationship with God.

  • How does our mentee see God? Is it an accurate image?
  • Has our mentee been water baptised?
  • What is our mentee’s prayer life like?
  • Has he or she invited the Holy Spirit in their life?
  • How often does our mentee spend time in fellowship with God?
  • Does he or she study the Bible regularly?
  • How well does our mentee know the Word and understand the Bible?
  • Does he or she know how to repent of past sins and generational curses?

Just as children need to learn the alphabet before they can read or drink milk before they can eat solid food, we all need to get our spiritual disciplines right first. 

2 Corinthians 2:1-2 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

2. Greater spiritual understanding

As our mentee matures spiritually, his or her goals will also change. We may wish to move our mentee into higher spiritual disciplines and maturity.

  • Has our mentee’s heart softened towards God?
  • Is he or she walking in greater joy, peace and spiritual freedom?
  • Does he or she have an active friendship with the Holy Spirit?
  • Does he or she seek God’s counsel for all their decisions?
  • Is he or she being a good testimony?
  • Does he or she forgiven his or her enemies and love “neighbours” well?
  • Can he or she answer questions about their faith accurately?
  • Has he or she memorised many Bible verses?
  • Does our mentee fast regularly?
  • Does he or she know how to test the spirits and prophecies?
  • Is he or she actively standing up against Satan’s temptations?
  • Does he or she understand the signs of the Last Days? 

The Bible warns there are many Christians will be led astray, so it’s our duty to ensure that our mentees become spiritually discerning and not easily swayed by the world.

Ephesians 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

3. Building the Kingdom of God

Next, we should help our mentee to discover his or her God-given S.H.A.P.E. Every person has their own individual blend of Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences, and the SHAPE concept is fleshed out by author Erik Rees in his book, S.H.A.P.E.

  • Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given us to share his love and serve others. 
  • Heart: The special passions God has given us so that we can glorify Him on earth. 
  • Abilities: The set of talents God gave us when we were born, which He also wants us to use to make an impact for Him.
  • Personality: The special way God wired us to navigate life and fulfill our unique Kingdom Purpose. 
  • Experiences: Those parts of our past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.

By helping our mentee understand their SHAPE, he or she may be able to understand how and why they may be wired the way they are. With this, he or she can start on an exciting journey of fullfulling their spiritual calling and purpose, as the Holy Spirit leads them.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord ’s purpose that prevails.

Final reminders

Even as we aim to set realistic goals for mentees, we need to remember that change comes in God’s perfect timing. Goals and timings are helpful but we should not become dogmatic and critical about fulfilling them, if a mentee needs more time. Tough love may be needed in some mentoring relationships, but ultimately, love should always trump the tough aspects.

1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


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