Each of us has strengths, natural talents and "gifts" which we can share with the rest of the world. Stuff that makes us unique and capable of teaching others. One of the greatest ways to give back to the world is to mentor others by sharing what we've learned and helping them to become great in our given area of expertise. The Apostle Paul considered mentoring of top priority, after the example of Jesus himself. When you look through Scripture you find Paul associated himself with, mentored, raised up, encouraged and served (spiritually - his area of expertise) literally dozens of people. Many he took with him on his travels and they later became ministers and leaders in the early Church. Several things characterized Paul's mentorship:
1. Paul didn't connect with everyone. Paul had a few arguments with key leaders of the early Church, including the Apostle Peter at one time and his long time travel partner Barnabus at another time. However, it is interesting to note is that because of this division with Barnabus, Paul went out with Silas and Barnabus with John Mark, and as two seperate teams they covered twice the amount of area in ministry. Their impact for God was doubled! Notice the people around you who you naturally connect with - pour your heart into them. Don't feel you need to mentor everyone, or that your mentorship with each individual needs to last forever. Be open to help as long as both parties are interested. It's okay to fail, okay to have relationship problems, but we shouldn't let this keep us from helping others in the future.
2. Paul leveled the playing field. Paul often referred to those he mentored as "co-workers." Mentors turn people off when they are controlling or unconcerned about a mentee's life and God's work and plan for that person. Personally, the mentors I have loved and wanted to learn from the most were those who have said, "I'm not your mentor, I'm your friend!" Could they be any more clear that they were not interested in their own personal fame or ministry or agenda, but rather engrossed in the Kingdom of God and serving others around them. Don't Lord spiritual authority or your special expertise and talent over others. Help them as much as they seem to want and do your best to serve them. Be very careful not to recruit them into your own organization or ministry for personal benefit. Rather, lift them up being sensitive to their calling from God and interested in helping them hear from God on their own. Real leadership is about bending ourselves to help others, not the other way around. If we are the leader, let's set the pace of servanthood, humility and Christlikeness.
3. Paul took people with him. On the flip side of the coin, I get a picture of the fat coach yelling at his skilled players to run or play harder. Are we practicing preachers or sideline teachers? Especially as ministers, what is needed most is not simply to teach our people the wisdom of God, but to SHOW them in our daily lifestyle, to go out and preach and do the work of God, then to take them with us to help us as we do so, eventually giving them opportunities to do it themselves.
It's simple - do stuff for God, take others along for the ride, serve them and what God has for their lives. Who are you mentoring?