Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Ways To Be A Mentor

Hopefully you now have a mentor and you are ready for the journey to begin. The only problem is, you don’t know what you and your mentor are supposed to do? Or maybe you came across this article because you are a mentor and you don’t know what to do. I have good news—it isn’t that hard! Treat this as an open letter to all mentors. Feel free to pass it on to your mentor or to others who are mentors.

As mentors, you have five basic jobs:
  1. Pray
  2. Encourage
  3. Prepare
  4. Listen
  5. Report
Pray with your friend. If they haven’t gone on the trip yet, make regular appointments to get together and include prayer. Continue to do this even after your trip. You should share prayer requests and pray about decisions together.

Encourage your friend. Here’s a cool way to encourage your short-term missionary. Write several letters and collect several encouraging letters from others and secretly give them to the team leader with instructions to give them to your missionary throughout the trip. Another way to encourage before the trip is to help with raising funds. Help with fundraisers or even be an advocate in asking for donations. After the trip, you can encourage your friend by listening to their stories and pointing out positive change that’s happened already.

Prepare with your friend. There are a lot of last minute errands to run when packing. Help your friend by running errands or even by helping him pack. Don’t forget about the spiritual preparations also. Do something to stimulate spiritual growth in each of you before and even after your trip. This could be studying the Bible together, serving together, or even just getting together and praying together.

Listen to all your friend’s stories. I mentioned this earlier. Your friend will come home bubbling with excitement, stories, and enthusiasm but most people won’t take the time to listen. Show your love by investing your time to attentively listen. While you are listening, look for how God might be guiding and changing your friend. Sometimes an outside perspective is what returning short-term missionaries need. Be on the lookout for the STM blues. Some people become discouraged by the “real world” when they come home. (Check back in the next couple of weeks for an article on the STM blues)

Report your findings. After you have listened and observed your friend following their short-term mission experience, evaluate what you have seen and heard. Encourage your friend by sharing the change you have seen—or confront them about the lack of follow through on change they desire. This will help you be a catalyst in their life. You can’t make decisions for them and you can’t make them change, but you can make their change more powerful!

Much of this information is taken from The Next Mile Mentor Guide. You can download the Mentor Guide as a free PDF. In it you will find helpful ideas, timelines for planning, questions to ask after the trip, an evaluation form, and much more. I know it will be a useful tool as you mentor your short-term missionary.

Questions for the author? You can contact Tory at 520-404-0841 or


  1. This is a great idea. I didn't have an actual mentor for any of the short-term missions trips I've taken, but I did have prayer partners who talked with me, prayed with me and wrote me letters.

    When I went to Romania, my prayer partners wrote letters that they sent along with my team leader; she gave them to me on days when she could see I needed encouragement or a word from home. The one I remember most clearly came from my sister.

    On a day when my heart was particularly broken for one of the children at the orphanage where we were volunteering, I happened to read the letter from Shay. She told me that she knew it would be difficult for me to see children in need of a "forever family" and not be able to provide it, but she encouraged me to remember that, as much as I loved those children, God loved them infinitely more. He saw them and loved them.

    She wrote that letter several weeks before I read it and without any particular knowledge of what I would experience or need on the given day that I would read it. Her words were so clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit that it was a long time before I could control the tears! That's the kind of power that a mentor - guided by the Lord - can have.

    1. Katie - I had forgotten about that letter - I so love that it was the right thing at the right time for you! It's good to remember - in missions and as we go about our every day activities - that God uses even the smallest, unintentional things :)

  2. Katie, thanks for sharing your experience. That is amazing! I actually re-read a few weeks ago one of those letters you described from when I went to Zimbabwe. It was from Grandma McCormick. It made me cry all over again too! Hopefully this is something you can pass on to your church leadership when they do their next short-term trip!