Serving Millennials on the Journey Toward Significant Life
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Mentoring // Dawn Carter

This post is a part of the Dancing Jesus: Mentoring in the Church blog series that will be ongoing through the month of September. You can read about the series and view the schedule here. You can subscribe to all of the posts here.

Mentoring in the Church: Please Don’t Mentor If…

The Scene: Sunday Morning after church… a convicting plea for mentors is announced. Lethal levels of guilt have been reached, and on the drive home the mental conversation with the Guilt Monster goes something like this:

You know, you really should be mentoring someone. You’ve lived long enough to know a bit more than these youngsters.

I know I should…but I don’t have the time. I say “yes” to everything asked of me like a good Christian should…I don’t think I can I squeeze this in for God right now.

Excuses, excuses. You know that the next generation needs your perspective, your exhaustive Bible knowledge, your example. Who will teach them to carry on the heavy work of being a Christian? And, what a great way fill slots with volunteers in your ministry!

You’re right. It is the Me Generation and they need my example of selflessly putting others first. I have walked with the Lord for many years.

You have so much to offer — and I think signups are still going next week…

If this scene rings even a bit familiar, please do the next generation a favor. Sit this inning out. Please do not mentor. The last thing we need is this flavor of exhausted Christian influencing another generation. Mentoring isn’t about adding another project to do. Or having someone under your tutelage. In fact, it isn’t about you at all.

Instead of auto-volunteering for yet another obligation, consider that the call to mentor could possibly involve:

  1. A Heart Check: Ask yourself, why do I want to mentor someone? Is this something I genuinely feel tugging inside me or do I secretly want others think I’m wise?
  2. Sharing Brokenness: One of the most accessible things we have to share with others is the gift of our failures. Can I open up about my frailty and how God has redeemed it?
  3. Inconvenience: I remember a college gal showing up on my doorstep as I was making dinner. I had a newborn in a sling and a spatula in my hand. Dinner waited that night as we talked out her breakup with her boyfriend. Life is messy and relationships are doubly so.
  4. Unleashing Their Beauty: What makes their soul sing? Finding and affirming this is your job as you spend time in relationship.
  5. Mutual Learning: Your mentee, as you walk together, will probably challenge some dusty corners of your heart. This may be part of your sanctification journey just as much as theirs.

Bottom line is that our churches need humble, genuine, life-giving folks to spend time coming alongside younger brothers and sisters who need our love; who deserve our time.

The joy of investing in another life is sweet and deep. It is so worth the time, the bouts of insecurity, the inconvenience. It just has to flow from an available heart, not from obligation, self-righteousness or guilt.

Dawn Carter is a Bible teacher, connector and compassionary. She has a passion for social justice, seeing lives lived out authentically and noticing God’s beauty, especially displayed in restored lives. Mentoring feels like breathing to her.

Dawn is a mom of three elementary-aged children, ages 12, 9 and 7. She worked full-time for 10 years in the corporate grind before starting her family with her husband Dave. (for an inside glimpse into this transition check out the preview of Deidox |Dawn). She’s a nerd at heart and tortures her family with her bad jokes.  You usually can find her online, Twittering about TheIdeaCamp, JustOne and Sandals Abolitionists.

She writes for her ten faithful readers over at her blog, Chronicles of Dawnia.

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  • Kyle Reed

    Great call to action Dawn. I appreciate your honesty in telling people to sit this inning out if they are on the auto-enroll program.
    The guilt could be enough to convince someone to volunteer but it does not do enough to convince them to go all in and really mentor.

    The church does need humble, genuine, life-giving mentors. I hope everyone reads this post. Good stuff.

    • Dawn Carter


      Thank you for your kind words. I’m sure we’ve all started things, originally driven by guilt, but then fizzled out when it got messy or tough. I certainly have.

      Whoever we commit to mentor deserves our best. And this doesn’t flow out of a guilty place, but a called place.

  • Melissa Brotherton

    Dawn, this is definitely going in my list of must-reads for this week! What great thoughts on mentoring. Thanks for mentoring me with your words today. :)

    • Dawn Carter

      Thanks Melissa, have so enjoyed getting to know you via your blog. Appreciate your heart.

  • Julia Kate

    Loved this. Sometimes we can do more damage than good. Loving the freedom to assess & not just say yes.

    • Dawn Carter

      Thanks Julia. Appreciate that you stopped by. Yes, you get freedom to say no when God’s doing the recruiting.

  • Sovann

    “Auto-volunteering” that is so good, thanks Dawn!
    This could also read please don’t lead a small group if…

    • Dawn Carter

      Thanks for your comment. The principle could definitely be applied to leading a small group! Glad you stopped by.

  • Tyler

    Me, coming from a local church context, thinks that youth leader volunteers don’t realize the great power they have to change a life through their leading/mentoring. Part of this is they don’t take into consideration what they are getting into, but part of this is also they haven’t come to see how much God wants to accomplish through them. Thanks for showing both sides of this Dawn!

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  • Ione

    I love this! Dawn you go to my church, Sandals! Great to see other Sandalites involved in the Mentoring Project :)

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