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Mentoring: The Hardest Need to Fill?


In a recent ChinaSource Quarterly article entitled, "Five Profound Mentoring Needs in China," Eric Lee notes that the most common requests from Chinese church leaders during the past three decades have been for Bibles, spiritual literature, and training. Now, however, they are asking for cross-cultural missionary training and mentoring.

"Between these two needs," says Lee, "Mentoring represents by far the more difficult request to deliver."

Why mentoring? And why so difficult?

Lee identifies five major voids in the lives of Christian leaders in China today:

  1. Not having a loving "father" in his earthly life
  2. Not having a godly "shepherd" in his spiritual life
  3. Not having a skillful "coach" in his ministry life
  4. Not having an intimate "friend" in his social life
  5. Not having a committed "companion" in his suffering life.

According to Lee, it is only when these leaders experience the unconditional love of God, demonstrated by another, that they are able to understand it and communicate it in more than just an abstract sense. Only when they experience the patient guidance of a shepherd are they able to patiently shepherd others. Effective coaching enables leaders to uncover their own blind spots and to grow. Experiencing true friendship enables real intimacy and transparency in their relationships – including with the Lord. Finally, companionship in the midst of suffering makes these trials bearable.

The mentor ministers in all these areas of need.

Mentoring is difficult because mentoring takes time. Eric says of his experience with one particular couple, "I used to train hundreds of pastors in five days, but helping this couple learn God-given patience took twelve months. Mentoring is far more time consuming than training; many key lessons are learned only when we invest the time."

For more on mentoring, coaching and spiritual formation in the lives of Christian leaders in China, see Eric Lee's article along with others in the latest issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly.

Image credit: Inked #2, by Nick Lo, via Flickr

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the president of ChinaSource and the editor of the ChinaSource Quarterly. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of... View Full Bio