What is Veteran Spiritual Mentoring:
- Spiritual mentoring aims to deepen and strengthen the veteran’s experience of and relationship to the Divine in a way that is authentic and meaningful.
- Assists the veteran to name, understand and work with the problems, blocks, and patterns in his/her life by using spiritual perspectives, practices and tools.
- Guides the veteran to assume total self-responsibility, not for all that happens to them, but for how they choose to react and be with what happens.
- Supports the veteran in coming to know her/himself as “whole”, integrating all aspects of the self – physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual.
- Helps the veteran toward wholeness through the awareness and cultivation of inner compassion (heart), discernment (mind), and courage (action).
Purpose: Veteran Spiritual Mentors serve as guide and companion to other veterans on their journey to wholeness and healing.
Qualifications of Mentor:
- A wise person of mature faith and consistent in living out one’s faith.
- Willing to listen, share skills, and provide a positive perspective for life experiences.
- Provides wisdom and offers spiritually sound, safe, and authentic friendship to a veteran.
- One leads because one knows the path a little better.
- Be available. It is not a requirement to be a theologian to mentor another, but you should be a person of faith who lives out your life with integrity and with respect of others. It is not a requirement to be a trained psychologist, but be available to listen, and offer timely and godly advice. Younger veterans need the experience, endurance, and example of a mature veteran.
- Be purposeful. What is this younger veteran seeking from a relationship with you? Trust. Most veterans are frustrated by the polite veneer of casual relationships. They desire to connect more authentically with another veteran. Many veterans desire to share their sacred story with someone who will accept and understand where they have been and what they have done. They may want a closer relationship with the Divine and a better understanding of holy writings. However, they may not! Mentoring is not always a study of holy writings, prayer, or talking about God or religion. Mentoring is to be a committed friendship. The veteran can experience fully the compassionate love and amazing grace of God because the mentor becomes closely connected with the veteran in a relationship of quality and depth. It is through this relationship that the mentor can minister the transforming power of God to the veteran’s heart, mind, and soul.
- Be creative. Regular times and days suit the chronologically challenged, but there is always room for variation. Go out for coffee, meet for breakfast, whatever time and place meets the needs of the veteran and you. Share in an activity – walking, running, biking, hiking. Mentoring isn’t about being intensely spiritual all the time, it’s about building a relationship.
- Be a listener. The most critical responsibility of a mentor, listen. Let her/him open up. Don’t feel compelled to dole out advice for every topic he/she might raise. Wait until she/he asks for your thoughts before offering them. Be trustworthy. The person you mentor must be able to trust you implicitly and know that nothing they tell you will ever be taken any further. It is a completely sacred relationship.
- Be real. When it is time to do the talking, remember that honesty makes you vulnerable. No one is perfect. Both the mentor and mentee continue to be transformed into the children that God intended. So don’t be afraid to be genuine, to reveal your weakness. In spiritual mentoring, the grace of God gets the job done through us (and sometimes in spite of us).
- Be an example. Mentors must show their trustworthiness, demonstrate their love for God. Actually do what you say you will do. Words alone are empty. From the mentor’s perspective, the process seems something like this:
I do, you watch
I do, you help.
You do, I help.
You do, I watch.
*The topic on responsibilities largely adapted from Crosswalk.com, Kelley Mathews, Th.M. (Dallas Theological Seminary).