By Jireh Tham

Photo by Juri Qianfrancesco on unsplash

The Mentor Every Leader Needs

9 Jul 2024

If you’re a leader, you’re likely familiar with the demands, stresses, and expectations that come with guiding your team. As someone who has been a leader for more than half my life (because I am reasonably young), I understand how overwhelming the responsibility and pressure can be. During times when I need encouragement, direction, and admonishment, a God-given mentor has been extremely helpful and life-giving, especially growing up through my youth and beyond.

The concept of mentoring has evolved over time and across cultures. Originally rooted in Greek mythology, mentoring today encompasses various areas of life. Whether it’s a life mentor, relationship mentor, or ministry mentor, you can find guidance in nearly every aspect of life. As our world grows increasingly complex, mentees often seek guidance from multiple mentors rather than just one (or in Chinese, 师父).

Mentoring is a sacred journey, integral to the discipleship process for followers of Jesus Christ. It should be esteemed as a crucial means by which we fulfil God’s calling for our lives.

If mentoring is so important, what vital qualities should we look for in a mentor?

And if we are mentoring others, what qualities should we develop to enhance our mentoring abilities?

“Mentoring is a sacred journey, integral to the discipleship process for followers of Jesus Christ.”

Here are three timeless, vital qualities of a mentor that I believe every leader needs:

  1. A Deep Love for the Lord and People
  2. Empathetic Communication
  3. A Tenacious Power to Believe

1. A Deep Love for the Lord and People

Authenticity in mentoring is not something one grows into; it is a product of what is already within. To guide someone on the discipleship path, a mentor must have mastered some level of self-leadership within their own discipleship journey. If the goal of mentoring is to grow someone towards Christlikeness, then knowing, loving, and living with self-control for Christ must be one of our life’s deepest priorities.

Allister McGrath states, “Discipleship is about finding someone who’s a few steps in front of us and following that person.” Ultimately, we aim to mentor others to walk so deeply with the Lord that they no longer need us to grow in their own discipleship journey. This sacrificial, almost unconditional output, without the assurance of return, is possible only when one has a deep love for the Lord, His people, and His work.

2. Empathetic Communication

Communication is a vital skill in the mentoring process. John C. Maxwell, in an interview on the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, named communication as the most important skill any leader should master. Effective communication ensures the clear transmission of information between mentor and mentee. To avoid misunderstandings and save time, be a good listener and communicate effectively.

Jesus was an excellent communicator, delivering profound sermons with great empathy. He understood His audience and communicated timeless kingdom principles in a relatable way. As mentors, we should ask ourselves: are we speaking to our mentees in a language they understand? Learn to listen actively and empathetically, recontextualizing the wisdom you wish to share in a way that resonates with your mentee.

3. The Tenacious Power of Belief

“I believe in the best of you, even when you don’t believe in the best of yourself.”

These were the words my first mentor said to me when he stepped into my life at 17. He offered to walk with me through my relationships and leadership challenges, developing my inner life. One of the greatest gifts he gave me was his unwavering belief in me, even when I disappointed him or God. He never gave up on me, embodying the faithfulness of Christ as described in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself.”

“I believe in you…”

These words undergird my approach to mentoring. They remind me to ask the Lord for the vision to see beyond the present for those I mentor. This belief sustains me during times of discouragement. Recently, after a heartfelt conversation, a youth I mentor texted me, saying, “Thank you for thinking of me, for always trying, and for seeing the best in me, even when I can’t.”

We all need someone to believe in the best version of ourselves. One of my most significant periods of spiritual growth came from a mentor who journeyed with me through highs and lows, believing in me when others couldn’t. His belief helped me see God’s faithfulness and gave me the strength to pursue His will for my life. Mentoring helps others see God, inspiring them to keep running the race of the abundant life.

Mentoring is a beautiful journey filled with conversations, tears, laughter, and sometimes pain. The greatest joy in mentoring comes from the relational principle that undergirds it all, mirroring the love of Jesus. He walks with us, talks with us, and sends mentors to be His heart and hands, leading people closer to Him.

If you know someone who needs a mentor, has a desire to grow, would you consider becoming one? Would you grow to be more love, emphatic, and believing to help someone grow closer to Christlikeness?

Jireh Tham is an Associate Consultant at ChurchLife Resources. Being a Youth Minister in his church, he has a passion to see young people restored to their God-given destinies. He believes that a robust discipleship framework will help to grow disciples that are both grounded in the Word, and culturally relevant and influential. He is also joyfully married to his best friend and partner-in-crime, Yun Fei.

The apostle Paul once said, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers…”

When a church invests in mentoring, leaders and members will not be alone in serving God, they will not feel like orphans in the challenges in life.

Churchlife Resources has designed these tracks and modules to help you and your church journey together in building a culture of mentoring!

Email us at for more information.

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