Resources / Mentoring Seminar

Mentoring Seminar

by Wong Fong Yang

jointly organised by CDPC and Grace@Work on 19 August 2003


It was heartwarming to see 100 people from various churches making the effort to attend the seminar on "Mentoring: Building Leaders One Life At A Time." We were not disappointed as the speaker Dr. Walter Wright, former president of Regent Bible College, shared his journey of how different people had at different period of his life invested themselves as his mentors. 

Walter Wright, a theologian, pastor and academic administrator ably convinced us of the significance of having mentors as well as mentoring others. What impressed me most was how different mentors had shaped his life for what and who he is today and that he still maintains those mentoring relationships. 

Although he is in his sixties and very accomplished in the academic world and Christian organisation, he still sees the need of having mentors. Obviously he must have benefited tremendously from mentoring relationships that he has with great and godly men whom God brought into his life. I am convinced that our lives will be impoverished without mentors. 

Dr. Wright began the seminar by asking us to ponder over three very important questions, which will determine the shape of our lives. Who we are as a person invariably affect the organisation that we work for. These questions may appear simple but are seldom reflected upon. 

  1. What is the single most important thing in life for me? 
    The answer to this question helps us to see the values that we hold dearly and that which shapes our lives. It is an issue of character.
  2. What do I want to be known for at the end of my life? 
    This is about legacy, the imprints which we leave behind and that by which others will remember us.
  3. At this point in life, what do I need to learn next? 
    If we are able to see the need to learn, we will have the desire to look for mentors. Mentoring begins with our desire to learn.

A Christian who has godly character and values, who knows where he is going and what legacy he wants to leave behind and one who is constantly learning from others; is likely an influencer and leader in his organisation. 

Leaders with godly character will have their values embedded in the organisation culture. Such leaders will affect and influence the behaviour of the people who follow and work under them. Leadership flows from our character rather than from the hierarchical position. 

Therefore it is important that we become leaders who have godly character and values. There is a need to choose from the right mentors who can shape our lives for godliness. Who we are and the values we espouse are also influenced by the theology we hold to dearly. More than that, it depends a great deal on the God we follow. 

Walter Wright talked about the mentoring relationship and the values he received from his mentors. This forces us to look at our lives and see the need of having mentors. 

The People Who Mentored HimThe Dynamics of Mentoring Relationship
Donald BubnaMentors reorganise and affirm potential
Roland GivenMentors provide a safe place to regain perspective
George LaddMentoring is a relationship between fallible human beings and cannot exist without forgiveness
Calvin SchoonhovenLavish affirmation is empowering
Glenn BarkerMentors share themselves
Max De PreeMentors are a gift and they provide a gift of sanctuary
John BrayMentoring is a partnership of learning and encouragement in a commitment of trust

These godly men had provided a safe place for Walter Wright to grow through the struggles of life. Each had given much in terms of time to make him a more complete person. He learned solid theology from George Ladd and hence cultivated a great love for God's Word. Max De Pree, who maintains a 21 year mentoring relationship with him, has impacted him with leadership skills. Calvin Schoonhoven kept on affirming him and he kept on growing in an atmosphere of lavish affirmation. Roland Given provided a safe place for him to regain perspective particularly when he had so much to wrestle with. He learned management, administrative and financial skills from others. These mentors provided knowledge, godly wisdom and broadened his perspective of life. 

Walter ended the seminar by giving some practical insights into mentoring: 

  • Do not offer to be a mentor. Mentorees decide who they want to be their mentors.
  • Invest in people who have character, accurate self-assessment and who accept responsibility for growth.
  • Mentoring cannot be structured or programmed. It is about chemistry and relationship.
  • Mentors create a safe place for the mentorees to grow.
  • Mentors provide knowledge and perspective. The do not have all the answers. Mentoring is not giving answers but rather is about asking questions, which open up more room for learning.
  • Mentoring is not about cloning but allowing space for others to grow to what they can be.
  • Mentoring is not gender specific. However, one needs to be aware of certain dynamics of relationship with the opposite sex. It deepens one's awareness of seeing things from the opposite sex's perspective.
  • Look for mentors who have godly wisdom, a broad perspective of life, shared values, vast and rich experiences and who are accessible.
  • Take the potential mentor out for lunch and keep asking questions and hopefully the chemistry of friendship will work.

This seminar was a partnership between CDPC and Grace@Work in building young leaders for the marketplace. It was also a reflection of the shared values and vision of Dr. Tan Soo Inn, the founder of Grace@Work and Rev. Wong Fong Yang, Senior Pastor of CDPC. In both our journeys we have had good mentors who have shaped our lives and ministry. We are on a journey to give and invest our lives in young people as their mentors. We take heed the godly wisdom of Donald Bubna: What goes around comes around

CDPC and Grace@Work invite feedback and suggestions on how we can further serve the community in the area of mentoring.