Comment: What is Mentoring?




Developing maturity is not a new idea. Mentoring is often seen as wisdom being passed on. It may be from father to son, skilled craftsman to apprentice, teacher to pupil, elder to junior, leader to follower.

Steve Biddulph, Australia’s best known family therapist said: “Each boy is forced to base his idea of self on a thinly drawn image gleaned from externals; TV, movies, and his peers.” I was once a boy, but somehow I became a man. Often this happens without the help of an older or wiser man. As Steve Biddulph writes: “The lack of in-depth elder male connections during our childhoods leaves men bereft and struggling . . . our marriages fail, our kids hate us, we die from stress and on the way we destroy the world.”

Mentoring is much more than the passing on of information or wisdom. It’s more about one person getting alongside another and working together to develop their thinking or behaviour. There is a strong emphasis on relationship. Mentoring gets beyond the actual information to look at the person and the development of their character.

Rick Lewis points out that: “Mentoring gives people space and time, within the context of a relationship, to journey towards transformation . . . a good mentor is not so much a person with the right answers as a person with the right questions who walks the road of discovery with others.”

The time when communities would pass on wisdom from one generation to another seems long gone. In some communities, the transition from boyhood to manhood often involved some very extreme rites of passage in teenage years. In the twenty first century, communities and families have become fragmented, and respect for elders and authority seems diminished. It seems to me that less wisdom is being passed on, and mentoring will need to be an intentional thing, whether it is at that transition stage of boyhood to manhood, or at a later stage of life.


Steve Biddulph – Manhood, Finch Publishing

Rick Lewis – Mentoring Matters, Monarch Books

Main Photo Credit: Brad Bamore via Unsplash

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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