Mentoring Helps

Lessons Learned- Life as a Mentor

(This is an excerpt taken from the book Mentoring Warriors by David Riffel. Available at

Having mentored some awesome young men over the years and seen some great successes in their manhood journeys, I’ve also made some mistakes along the way. Lessons that I’d rather see you learn from me than to make the same foibles I did!

Here are six top lessons learned 

1. One Size Does Not Fit All. Don’t mentor with a cookie-cutter attitude. What worked for Connor may not with James. What helped Michael may not do it for Steve. The underlying principles of mentoring will always work. How they are fleshed out will differ with the person. Be flexibly consistent.

2. Mentoring Minors. This can get tricky. With so much concern with minors and adults these days, you need to be diligent in having a healthy relationship with your mentee’s parents. That doesn’t mean you have to be his folk’s best friends, but they need to trust in you with their son. When the struggles are sexual in nature, talking through such with a young man who is a minor must have the support of his parents. I’ve made sure that the parents know I am on their side, wanting the best for their son. Never wanting to usurp them or their authority, it’s always good to know that you can have an open channel with them and their son. I also recommend meeting in public places; which minimizes any sense of impropriety.

3. It’s Not Your Problem. This is huge. My tendency is to be Mr. Hyper-responsible. I want to own their problem. That is the worst thing a mentor can do. Enabling a problem by rescuing is bad advice. You can advise, give direction, but never solve their problems. Make sure they understand it’s their choice, their decision. Their future.

4. Limit Your Availability. Know the difference between what’s important and what’s urgent. Talking about your warrior’s dating relationship is important. If he got her pregnant, now that is urgent! Working through a character issue is important, Showing up at the emergency room because he was in an accident is urgent. Texting you at midnight to chat is him having his priorities mixed up. A warrior who is serious about being mentored will respect your downtime. 

5. Figuring Out What to Do.  Here is a partial list of Common Manhood Struggles and what the underlying issues could be, plus scriptures that can be a launching point for working through them with your warrior. You can access the entire list in the book Mentoring Warriors.

Suggestions for Dealing with Common Manhood Struggles

Initial Reason to MeetPossible Underlying IssuesTopics that are Important to addressHelpful Scriptures
Pornography●       Coping mechanism for a deeper trauma in life.●       Untethered lust that has now turned into deviant sexual thoughts and actions●       Role and purpose of sexuality.●       Purity and Holiness●       God’s view of the human body●       How to not objectify women. ●       Learning self-control●       Seeing his sexuality as a gift from GodGenesis 1: 28 Be fruitful and multiply.Genesis 2:24-25 Oneness in marriage through sexualityGenesis 1:27. Sexuality is both male and female.Psalm 139 on our amazing bodiesProverbs 31:10-31 on the beauty of a womanSong of SolomonGalatians 5:22-231 Thessalonians 4:3-8Matthew 5:27. Lustful intent is adultery 
Drunkenness●       Coping mechanism for a deeper trauma in life●       Untethered use of lifestyle freedoms ●       Healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety. ●       How faith is a good way to release stress and anxiety.Proverbs 20:1Proverbs 23:29-351 Peter 5:6-11Matthew 11:28-30

6. Best Word of Advice. To always include the Word of God in your mentoring. Beyond human wisdom, God has a wealth of advice in the Bible that can directly speak to a young warriors’ issues. Be well-versed in Scripture and understand that the Lord uses his Word to penetrate deeper into a man’s soul than any words you can offer. Whenever I meet with a warrior, I am cognizant of the need to bring the Word into the conversation. It might be a full-fledged Bible Study or It could be a scripture we are memorizing. Let God’s Word have the final say.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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