Many studies have been undertaken and many books written about mentoring. This seems to indicate it is vitally important, but perhaps mentoring has become something that many perhaps avoid or cringe at because it has become so structured and process orientated.
From my personal experience in youth mentoring, it should be a natural and unforced part of everyday life and when great mentors of the past are examined we can identify that there is little need for books and studies.
Jesus himself was the perfect mentor of his disciples. He didn't sit down and say to them, now I will be your mentor and you will be my mentees, and we will meet once a week for the next year. The Bible clearly shows that each day during the ministry of Jesus, he not only lived the life of a mortal man, he mentored and taught His disciples, while preaching and challenging crowds of people.
From the start Jesus clearly spelt out to His disciples that being mentored by Him does not come without personal sacrifice and costly commitment (Matthew 4: 18-22). Jesus continues to mentor His disciples today through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), through prayer (1 Timothy 2) and in all the wisdom contained in the Bible.
The Bible also refers to mentoring relationships of Barnabas and Paul (Acts), Paul and Timothy (1st and 2nd Timothy and Philippians), Naomi and Ruth (Ruth), Moses and Joshua (Exodus), just to mention a few.
Naomi and Ruth had a mentoring experience that was cross generational and was also within a familial relationship. This doesn't always need to be the case but was very effective for these two women.
As Ruth walked alongside of Naomi in life she learned not just how to care for a household and how to respond to tragedy and hardship, she also learned about Naomi's God. The basis of this mentoring relationship was simply based on the time they spent together, as there is not too much written in the book of Ruth regarding the details of their experiences together.
Moses and Joshua also had a very obvious mentoring relationship. All the ingredients for mentoring were in the relationship between these two men, yet neither would have used the term mentor or would have formalised this is any way.
Moses demonstrated the wisdom of a mentor by deciding to delegate an important task to Joshua (Exodus 17:9) in command of a battle. In making this decision, Moses demonstrated trust in Joshua's gifts and leadership potential. He opened the way for their ongoing teamwork.
It is obvious that there is an existing relationship between the mentor and the mentee and that there is a certain level of trust between them. It can be done formally or informally, in everyday life and involves teaching, guidance, support and challenge.
Over the past 12 years I have regularly been involved in youth mentoring and have seen young people grow in their faith and in character just because someone has cared and has been willing to listen to them in this busy, fast paced world.
All of these relationships have developed naturally or have involved the young person approaching me individually for extra support in life. The way I have mentored over the years has included going about life's daily routine and involving the young person in this, while we chat and discuss issues, and often pray through these things together.
I have never seen it as a step by step process, but simply just something that supports a young person to cope more effectively in the obstacles they face in life and to rejoice with them in their accomplishments.
It is also quite a common occurrence that the mentee is able to encourage and inspire the mentor also!!! So if you have the opportunity to get alongside a young person of the same gender to encourage them in their faith, don't hesitate as it can change lives forever.