Christian fellowship and discipleship are enhanced through peer mentoring. Through many expressions of mutual trust and care we grow more and more into Christ-likeness.
According to John Mallison, peer mentoring is an equal relationship between two people who value and respect each other and believe that each can enrich the other.
These, following, are just ten reasons peer mentoring is a good idea:
1. Peer mentoring, at its most basic, is simply good caring and accountable friendship where two people agree to make time for each other and to grow with intentionality together.
2. Communication skills are practised and honed. As we negotiate through the levels of communication, achieving more and more intimacy, the virtues of trust, courage, and care are exemplified.
3. Authentic life is generally contingent on transparency. We can easily fool ourselves that we live transparent lives before God, but if we don’t reveal ourselves before trusted peers we miss opportunities to identify where we are straying. Being aware of—and surrendering—our sin is where peer mentoring can help.
4. Two are better than one, says the writer of Ecclesiastes (4:9-12). With a trusted friend, accountability is not only easier, but encouragement, too.
5. Peer mentoring in small groups is an extension of shared trust and awareness, but from personal experience the dynamic of four is better than the dynamic of three. When four or five men or women meet together, with a common goal of growing together in Christ, there is great power for spiritual growth. Intimacy is forged and emotional development is enjoyed.
6. We get to practice courage through the trust of risk-taking in asking bold yet loving questions of our friends. We also get to experience courage in confessing our sin. Only when we risk enough to care do we show that we care. Only when we risk our secrets do we show we trust the other person with our vulnerabilities.
7. Disciplines such as prayer are enhanced in the company of others. Our prayers have more basis beyond ourselves when we pray in the company of others. And they are perhaps more thoughtful. (But a threat is they can also be more fake.)
8. Life and spiritual balance can be regularly reviewed in peer mentoring. There may be no better feedback. With the people who know us best there is the role of gentle prophesy—forth-telling of what may occur due to present patterns of living.
9. Where no area is left unexplorable we have achieved a pinnacle relationship. For two people who are not married to enjoy this sort of godly fellowship is a gift from God to both.
10. A peer mentoring list would not be complete without mentioning conflict. No relationship involving great intimacy is devoid of occasional conflict. Indeed, conflict is an important vehicle in the achievement of intimacy and trust. Peer mentoring presents two persons with opportunities to experience conflict and to grow through it.
Peer mentoring (intimate, accountable friendship) is a necessary component in becoming more Christlike. Becoming an authentic disciple of Jesus is possibly helped no better than via effective peer mentoring.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: John Mallison, Mentoring – To Develop Disciples & Leaders (Lidcombe: Scripture Union, 1998).