1 Samuel 3:9 (NKJV)
“Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”‘ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”
This is one of the best passages that describe the role mentors should play. A spiritual elder is not someone who lords it over his people. A spiritual mentor is not someone who becomes an indispensable part of another person’s life. A spiritual leader is not someone who always directs and controls the life of people. There is a time of infancy when the mentor needs to play a more prescriptive role in the life of a disciple. That is important and needful. But the leader must never make this the default long-term relationship pattern in leading and mentoring people.
A true spiritual leader points people to Christ. A true spiritual leader encourages people to grow in hearing Christ. A mentor should teach the disciple how to go to God and not always hear God through him. An elder should share his experiences and skills so that younger believers grow more independent of him, and not more dependent. If your pattern of mentorship forces people to always lean on you for guidance, then you have replaced God in their lives. If your style of leadership constantly makes people look to you and never to God, then you are an aberration in God’s program. The man of God who knows God, wants everyone around him to know God in the same measure, and more. That’s the joy of spiritual mentorship. When your younger friends can hear God as you do, then you know you have succeeded in your assignment. When you are constantly surrounded by and nurturing spiritual babies who cannot stand without you, you have woefully failed as a leader. Work to graduate children as quickly as possible – by teaching them the disciplines and secrets of receiving directly from God.