A Doctor of Ministry Mentorship User’s Guide
Biblical Foundation for Mentoring
Scripture soundly counters any accusation that ministry is a solo occupation. The Book of Proverbs provides multiple references to the advantages of healthy partnerships, i.e. mentoring:
- Pr 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
- Pr 20:5 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.
- Pr 27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
- Pr 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
- Pr 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. (Some suggest a better translation would be: “Just as a mirror confronts you with your public shape, so your fellow man confronts you with the shape in which thought and habits like your own have grouped themselves into a character.”)
- Ecc 4:9, 10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Surely such rich theological grounding for mentorships needs only intentionality and implementation to enrich any ministry context. Mentoring produces a person who is conditioned to engage and train others in discipleship as a leadership development model. Mentoring is the highest form of discipleship with Jesus, who used it as the primary means of growing his disciples into world class leaders. We are committed to modeling the same.
As a person in ministry, you will grow best and even excel, when growing in the presence of other supportive Christian leaders. Such relationships help you see in ways you have not seen before, inspire you to reach beyond, and demonstrate your larger potential for God’s kingdom. Mentorships facilitate best by emphasizing the learning relationship rather than the transfer of knowledge.
Good intentions and scholarly attainment are not enough to grow you as a minister. Without specific reflective relationships, how will you become informed about what you did in ministry and how you performed it? In a mentorship you can best become an intelligent practitioner, modeling what you seek to instill in others. It is not unreasonable to imagine mentoring as a life-long practice for all engaged in Christian ministry seeking the best for the Master’s vineyard.
With such promise for future ministry excellence, it is hoped our mentoring component will be a pattern of service for you continuing long after your DMin program is completed. Our prayer is that mentoring will be an important and meaningful part of your entire ministry life.
Mentoring: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships
From the quasi-historical time of Odysseus going off to the Trojan War (12th-11th century BC) and entrusting his young son, Telemachus, in the care of a trusted guardian named Mentor, till now—mentor relationships have continually increased. Whatever occupation or discipline one engages in the advantages of mentorships are increasingly utilized.
As an integral part of the DMin program, it is anticipated that your mentoring experience will become an important learning reality. You may have had a mentor before deciding to pursue your DMin degree. If you have not been, or are not now in a relationship with a mentor, we are pleased to assure, through the requirement of having a mentor, that you experience this peer learning modality.
Zachary‘s benchmark book, The Mentor’s Guide, advocates learning as “the fundamental process and the primary purpose of mentoring” (Lois J. Zachary, 2000). Pursuit of some DMin degrees could be defined as primarily an academic research, writing and ‘test-case’ exercise. The purpose of including mentoring into our program is to insure a more balanced experience whereby you interact and reflect with a chosen colleague about learning in its totality rather than its exactitude.
It is anticipated that such dialogue will offer you more insights via a mutual friendship than mere academic research affords. If true, then the highest goal in the quest for a Doctor of Ministry degree has been reached. Our ultimate desire is that mentoring becomes the modus operandi for all future ministry of Andrews doctoral graduates.
DMin Mentoring Defined
Our use of mentoring is distinguished from the usual definition of mentoring, which is defined as a learning relationship between an experienced ‘mentor’ and a less experienced ‘mentee’. Rather, we desire that your pairing with a ministry colleague be on more of a peer basis—whether one partner is immersed in a doctoral program and the other may or may not be, is immaterial.
The emphasis therefore in this kind of mentorship is on enhancing your journey and your reflection on what is happening personally throughout your learning experience. The desired outcome is one of intelligent learning utilizing reflective interaction between two partners. As one author quipped; “everything that happens to you is your teacher...The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it” (Polly Berends, 1990).
Furthermore, it is critical that your mentoring discussions not solely be on the DMin program per se. The DMin program is more than merely a course of study—it is intended to shape your life in ministry. So, your mentorship interaction is about more than progression through your DMin program – it is about your reflection on your development as a minister of God. You may or may not discuss your DMin program and its project with your mentor. We require mentoring for the sake of mentoring, to assure that persons have a mentor—and continue to have one.
We are further convinced that the kind of mentorship you will experience is best defined as spiritual mentoring at its finest. Anderson & Reese (1999) define this as “a triadic relationship between mentor, mentoree and the Holy Spirit, where the mentoree can discover thought the already present action of God, intimacy with God, ultimate identity as a child of God and a unique voice for kingdom responsibility.” As such, you should anticipate amazingly meaningful, even worshipful, experiences.
For DMin Students:
If you do not already have a mentor we require you to begin considering viable mentor candidates in your first months of the program. Your mentor choice should be guided by considering persons who share a like ministry focus as you experience with strong tendencies toward supportive accountability rather than directive counsel. Best mentors exude openness and non-judgmentalism while possessing the ability of posing probing and reflective questions. A suitable candidate would be one you feel comfortable being with, one having extensive ministry experience and balance, along with a keen interest in the support for and growth of other clergy.
Remember, you are the motivated self-learner eager to engage mentoring as an advantage for ministry growth. As such, you are the driving force for the success of the relationship by being the primary stimulus for interaction and choice of discussion topics. Contracting together regarding frequency, locale, and expectations insures direction and focus to your relationship. Topics for discussion/interaction are determined by you and can cover any area of concern.
Continued commitment to the relationship hinges on your vulnerability, openness, and engagement, and the sense of your progression and growth by your mentor. Meeting commitments and keeping regular appointments add a sense of satisfaction and progress for both parties.
Tips for Mentees:
- Make mentoring your regular and specific ministry necessity
- Take the mentoring initiative for appointments, focus, and results
- Honor your mentoring commitments
- Be respectful of your mentor’s time
- Expect support, not miracles
- Be open, vulnerable, and receptive regarding ministry/life activity
- Have real and purposeful conversations
- Stay focused on learning via reflection on events happening
- Treat your mentor relationship with care
- Follow up on suggestions and action items from your mentor
- After each meeting, ask yourself what you learned and how to apply it
Your selection and agreement to be a mentor should be interpreted as a great compliment to God’s action in your life. To think that a colleague desires such a deep relationship with you, as to be his mentor, is truly humbling. While your role is important, do not think of it as terribly hard. You are being asked to be a genuine friend for the period of time you and your mentee agree on.
The rationale for this required relationship is a desire that pursuit of the DMin be more of a transformative experience than a purely academic achievement. Regular interaction between the two of you is to offer intentional opportunities for dialogue and reflection on what is happening to your mentee while pursuing ministry growth. Remember, the relationship is for learning and ministry enhancement.
This is best accomplished via your genuine interest in your mentee’s welfare and holistic well-being. It is best achieved by your inquisitive questions and non-judgmental listening. The genius of this interaction is on what self-learning is occurring for your mentee instead of ‘expert’ answers from a mentor. “In the end it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are” (De Pree, 1989, p. 87).
Tips for Mentors:
- Get to really know and deeply care about your mentee’s story
- Find ways to increase your relationship of mutual trust
- Be authentic and transparent to your partner
- Establish a climate conducive to learning
- Involve your mentee in deciding how and what needs learning
- Don’t get hung up on performance - stick to learning
- Encourage your mentee to formulate his/her own learning objectives
- Help the mentee to implement and evaluate the learning occurring
- Master the use of open-ended questions resulting in learning by reflection
- Help your mentee to identify/utilize a variety of resources
- Use paraphrasing to insure you understand correctly
- Don’t fear silence but utilize it as an opportunity for reflection
- Summarize/affirm what learning you sense has occurred
Expect to be surprised and blessed by your participation as a mentor. This relationship is a two-way street—often with mentors feeling as benefited by the association as the mentee. Thank you for making this investment!
DMin Program Expectations of Mentorships
As mentioned earlier, the mentoring element is a form of social learning employed as an intentional and required modality in the Doctor of Ministry program whereby the learner interacts and reflects with a mentor to build insights into his/her own ministry activity and context.
Monthly contact with the mentor is to be initiated and scheduled by the mentee as a demonstration of commitment to the mentoring process. A reflection on the mentoring relationship is to be submitted to the Doctor of Ministry lead faculty annually by the mentee.