Mentors at Work:

A Rare Glimpse behind the Scenes

As guest editor, I am deeply moved by the articles in this edition of ChinaSource Quarterly. It is a rare opportunity to hear stories like these, usually heard only in private by coaches and mentors. These are the voices of experienced coaches and mentors—mainland Chinese, overseas Chinese, and non-Chinese, both male and female. Beyond providing glimpses into the cultural and gender dimensions of coaching and mentoring, their rich authenticity speaks to the heart.

We first heard some of these stories at the Walking with Leaders Consultation: Coaching, Mentoring and Spiritual Formation (Hong Kong, May 2014). From the very first session, we were surprised and touched by the vulnerability of the Chinese speakers. Their courageous openness helped us leap beyond the superficial into something special, precious, and unique.

These articles capture some of that atmosphere.

  • My own article (“Coaching, Mentoring & Spiritual Formation”) shares some of these precious stories using graphics to illustrate the relationship between coaching, mentoring, and spiritual formation, and to reflect on vertical and horizontal mentoring. My favorite insight came from our Chinese colleagues explaining the rich nuances of 聽 (tīng), the traditional Chinese character for “listen,” the heart of effective coaching and mentoring.
  • Veronica Wong (“Into the Deep: Reflections on Discipleship in China”) brings a refreshing female perspective as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor from the United States. She notes how the Chinese she serves recoil from traditional 指导-style mentoring (zhǐdǎo = to guide, direct, coach), a highly directive, top-down approach. Using a “peer-mentoring” approach, Veronica shares stories of three women she has helped: a hard-working “Christian” lacking assurance of salvation; a woman battling the debilitating effects of parental shame/discipline; and a victim of abuse, addiction, and violence, now being used by God.
  • As Chinese colleagues, Rose and Hunter (“Coaching in China”) use nontraditional coaching to coach both church and business leaders. They say Chinese churches are often patriarchal and autocratic. Pastors struggle to fulfill an unrealistic “Redeemer Complex.” Meanwhile in business, younger employees from the digital Information Age are led by older managers with an Industrial Age command-and-control mentality. The result is profound dissatisfaction and high turnover. Rose and Hunter describe three powerful coaching techniques that are transforming both churches and businesses.
  • In “Musings of a Mentee,” Tracy observes that there is no good word in Chinese for “mentor.” Reflecting on mentors in her own life, she thinks the best description is “good teacher and valuable friend.” Teachers are older and more experienced while friends are highly-valued peers at a similar stage in life. Coming from a Chinese-Muslim background, Tracy shares three touching stories of God using key mentors in her journey toward and with Christ.
  • In “Five Profound Mentoring Needs in China, Eric Lee offers a priceless wealth of insight into the needs of Chinese Christian leaders. Here, a true father in Christ shares his observations and deep concern for the many leaders in China who have never experienced godly, loving fathering. Yet these, who never knew a true shepherd, are trying to shepherd others. The cultural, pastoral, and biblical perspectives of this article alone are worth the price of the journal!

In this edition of ChinaSource Quarterly there is a book review of When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer beyond the Beginnings, and the Resource Corner contains a list of 25 recommended resources from the consultation participants. Enjoy!

Image Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc (modified).

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MC (pseudonym) has worked with Chinese believers for over 40 years.View Full Bio