Mentoring is all about eliciting the hidden potential in others, and challenging their self-perceptions. Many people think that they must first establish a friendship with another person before they can mentor. In fact, establishing a friendship often blocks your ability to mentor.

First, friendship by its very nature accepts a person as they are. It can blind the mentor to discern the real hidden potential in a person. Mentors are often at their best working with people they initially don’t really like very much. This forces them to look deeper beneath the surface to see hidden worth.

Second, friendship by its very nature is compassionate, merciful, and supportive. It can inhibit the mentor from tell the hard truth about another person. Mentors are at their best when they are unafraid to be merciless.

It may be that a mentoring relationship may turn into a friendship, but that is not the point of mentoring. The mentor tries to help another person perfect their relationship with God. The last thing you want to do is intrude your own ego, personal history, and emotional baggage into the process. That is the first thing you hope to do in a friendship, because a friendship is as much about you as it is about the other. It’s mutual. But a mentoring relationship cannot be about you. It has to be completely about the other and their friendship with Christ.