I really appreciated Piper’s response to the question posed in this video.
As someone who’s greatly been blessed by the ministry of a much wiser man, I’ve found that some of the most fruitful times of ministry are when we’re able to invest in each other, which is really the heart of mentoring, isn’t it? Not simply give or take, but a mutual exchange.
Anyway, take a couple minutes, watch the video or read the transcript and give some thought to these question:
Do you have a mentor? If so, how can you encourage him or her today?
The edited transcript follows.
As a young Christian I am often encouraged by an older mentor. I find it difficult to know how to encourage him, because I feel like the student. What are some ways I can encourage him in return?
The sin in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of him by saying good things about his mentoring. The righteousness in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of God and Christ because of what the mentor has pointed you toward or modeled for you.
This second one will, in fact, encourage him that he has done something right, and that’s not a bad feeling. But it needs to be right for God’s sake and right for Christ’s sake, not just, “I really need complements here, I really need affirmation.”
So I would tell the person who is being mentored to describe in significant ways the Christ-exalting good that has been done in your life. Describe what you’re seeing about Christ. Describe experiences that you’re having in ministry and in life that show the spillover and the fruit from the mentoring relationship.
Don’t think you have to think of a list of good things about that mentor. What he’s living for—if he’s a godly man—is your change and God’s glory in your life. So talk about that! Talk about God and talk about ministry. That would be the main.
Secondly, I would say to pray for him, and ask him how you can pray. Mentors are not above the need for prayer.
And thirdly, be a really good thinker and listener. In other words, if he is pointing you to something—showing you something, explaining something to you—be there! Be there emotionally and be there with your mind. An attentive, eager student communicates, “I’m expecting something valuable here,” and that honors the mentor.
By John Piper. © Desiring God.