Is mentoring a ministry, a vocation or a profession?

Is mentoring a ministry, a vocation or a profession?

The short answer is, yes!

This question was raised in one of our recent member ‘check-ins’, and it’s a great question to consider. One look at the ACMN website gives a clear indication that mentoring happens across informal, formal and professional levels.

Mentoring is a ministry because through it we engage and participate in God’s reconciling activity in the world. Ministry is our embodied response to the love of God for the world, and the call of Jesus to ‘love one another’ (John 13:34). In mentoring, we accompany, equip, encourage and empower others to do the same. Mentoring as a ministry is one way which helps others grow into the people that they are called by God to be, out of which will flow the things they are called by God to do.

Mentoring is a vocation because it comes from who we are. Parker Palmer defines vocation as something that “grows from within… not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received.” Frederick Buechner defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”[1]  Mentoring is a vocation when it comes from the deep places within, responding through the unique ways God has gifted each of us. Not everyone will embody the vocation of mentoring, but all are called to participate in ministry (whatever form that takes).

Mentoring becomes a profession when one practices professionally – which usually means that person has built a practice on years of training, skill development and experience; it provides a source of income, that person has the relevant insurances, engages in ongoing professional development and supervision, is a member of a professional association, and other such professional practices.

Christian mentoring becomes a profession when these professional practices are built on the foundational elements of ministry and vocation.

Whether you practice mentoring as a ministry, a vocation or a profession, it seems to me that the key element that binds all three together is the love of God and our response to it, no matter the context in which you practice.

– Sally Jones

[1] Both quoted from “Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

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