We’re about to hear from Rev Tan Soo-Inn on mentorship in this two-part article on mentoring.

But first, how do such mentoring arrangements look like in real life? 

To get glimpses of this unique relationship at work, we chatted with Amelia, Zachary and Cheryl who shared from their personal experiences as mentees.

Heads-up before we get into it: you might feel some spiritual FOMO as you read about how having a mentor in their lives has really shaped and transformed them. Don’t say we never say!

Amelia Dass: My mentors were authentic and brutally honest with me

My mentors, who are also my cell group leaders, are honest with me. But they also try to deliver the message in a very loving way.

They correct me when I need to be corrected, and one such correction took place over a WhatsApp conversation.

I was going through something that they knew about already. And I was sharing specifically that I felt very judged by what someone said.

My mentors’ response was, “But isn’t it true?”

At that moment, I started crying. I cried so much that night. I called my best friend, and she and her boyfriend drove over to meet me.

We went to a coffee shop and I started crying: “They don’t understand me! Nobody understands me! I just feel so judged! They’re judging me, they don’t love me!”

Amelia with her spiritual parents.

After that incident, I asked my mentors to meet. So we set a time and we met.

I went over to their place, but I was still unable to open up to them because of what happened. I still felt very defensive and very closed off. It wasn’t a good conversation.

I felt worse after the conversation, and I left their place feeling very upset.

Their brutally honest words made me feel that they actually loved me, because if they did not, how could they have been so honest with me?

So I took time by myself to process everything with God, and ask Him what were some issues and problems that I needed to deal with.

When I took time to process everything, I felt much lighter.

The next time I met my mentors during cell group, I was able to stop seeing them in a negative light.

The relationship could build again, and I realised that actually, they have always been genuine with me. It’s just that I could not see it when I was hurt.

Their brutally honest words made me feel that they actually loved me, because if they did not, how could they have been so honest with me?

After that, I wanted them to meet the person I was interested in.

This was a big step because I had long decided that if I met someone, I would be showing him to my father.

However, my dad has passed on. As such, I wanted to introduce him to my mentors, whom I really feel are like my spiritual parents whose opinions matter so much to me. 

When we met up together, my mentors said that it would not just be this one meeting — they offered continue to guide us in our relationship. 

I was touched because even though my partner was nobody to them in a way, they still said that they wanted to mentor us together.

They added that if my boyfriend had any questions or anything at all that he wants to ask them, they were available.

I really treasured how my mentor said, “Don’t meet up only because you have issues.”

Indeed, whenever we have problems, that’s the time when we want to meet our mentors. That’s when they become so important to us. 

But the better way is stay in touch whether we have problems or not.

One thing I will always remember about my mentors is that they really put a lot of emphasis on being authentic, and they want us to be ourselves too.

They are honest with us because they love us!

Zachary Lee: I was touched by how intentional my mentor was 

Joining the army was when I found my mentor in church, who really helped me through that season.

Army was quite a lonely time being surrounded by non-Christians. Many of my new friends were rough and rugged. 

The way we thought was different. The way we did stuff, interact with each other and process things were all very different.

So it helped that my mentor could walk me through a lot of these things. He helped me see things from a more Christian perspective, like dealing with conflicts with people or dealing with stress.

Zachary with his mentor.

He had also been through National Service before, so he could share with me practical handles on how to get through loneliness, physical trainings and hardship with people.

My mentor helped me to stay on the right track in a season where strong influences abound: everybody smokes, they drink, they go clubbing and all that.

There are a lot of opportunities for one to stray far off and step into things that are totally irrational and terrible.

That’s why having somebody to keep you grounded, who understands where you’re coming from and what you’re going through, is super important.

It is so crucial, having somebody who you respect, who can advise you because they’re older than you and have been through these kind of experiences already.

So it was at that point in my life where I started talking to my mentor about all the things I struggled with.

He was able to help me process these things. He sat down, listened to why I was feeling a certain way, and spoke in a very loving, yet firm way.

And every so often, he would also catch up with me to see how I was doing.

On one of these catch-ups, he wanted to talk about deeper things over the meal, so he asked, “So how are you and your family like?”

That was when I dropped the bomb on him that my dad had actually left my family a few years prior, and it was a really tough time.

I hadn’t shared this with a lot of people because I didn’t want their pity.

My mentor was shocked and stunned because he wasn’t expecting that. 

But what was really nice was that my mentor understood me without needing to relate to my issue. What he said that day also led me on a healing journey.

He said: “No matter what happens in your family, you must always remember that your parents love you, and you are still meaningful to them.”

I was holding back tears when he said that. It made me realise that my mother still really loves me.

Before that, I felt neglected because there was a lot of hurt that I had not even talked about with people before.

“No matter what happens in your family, you must always remember that your parents love you, and you are still meaningful to them.”

My mum was going through it, and my brother was going through it, and I was going through it.

Nobody talked to one another because it just made everybody more sad and upset.

I had just been holding it in and trying to be strong for myself. But I realised that talking to somebody about it and going through it with them was very helpful for me. 

And because of that conversation I had with my mentor, I started to connect more with my mum. 

These catch-ups with my mentor also allowed me to release the feelings of frustration and disappointment that were within me.

When I did so, he would then share a different perspective or remind me of something that has been true my whole life.

Sometimes you’re just blinded by disappointment and hurt.

You need somebody else to remind you of these simple truths like “your mother still loves you”. 

There were so many things that my mentor helped to unravel in my own life that I didn’t even know I was struggling with.

That’s what a mentor should be, someone to help you process your thoughts and struggles and who is able to speak into your life in a very different way.

Cheryl Lew: They exemplified God’s love for me and helped bring clarity

I first met my spiritual parents through a good friend who introduced them to me. She herself had gone through a few sessions of mentoring with them.

When she knew that I needed help with regards to clarity and direction in my final year of university, she suggested that I meet Auntie and Uncle (that’s what we call them endearingly).

So I went to meet them. And the first session was crazy!

At that time, they were conducting an intercessory ministry in a school. I filled in a form about what I needed help in, which would be passed to someone who would pray for me, then I waited for someone to call me into the room.

During this period, the intercessors would be praying for the people outside and receiving words of knowledge from God, sometimes writing these down on Post-it notes.

When it was my turn, the moment I walked in, I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit so saturated in the room that I wanted to cry.

Auntie asked me, “How can I pray for you?” She had already read the form, so she asked me to share more, which I did.

After she listened to me, she gave me a verse — James 1:5-8 — saying that if I wanted wisdom, and I seek from God, I shouldn’t be like waves that toss and turn. 

That was spot on, because I was very conflicted at that time (Auntie’s advice for me is still always spot on these days!).

She prayed for me, lifted up my hands and guided me in prayer. I was crying and crying during the prayer.

And after that, she said, “God is going to give you a vision.”

I don’t usually receive visions, but true enough, God gave me a vision instantly. It was a picture of me and God in a boat at sea.

And God said, “I will be with you.”

The moment I received this vision, Auntie asked me, “Did you receive anything? I’m pretty sure God gave you a vision.”

So I shared with her what God had downloaded to me, and she explained how the word of knowledge and the vision were aligned.

That was my very first encounter with Auntie.

I didn’t recognise her as my spiritual parent then; I only saw Uncle and Auntie as ministers.

But one incident that helped me see that they could be my spiritual parents happened between 2017 and 2018.

They walked with me through some of my darkest moments like my struggle with bulimia at the time.

My spiritual parents asked me very real questions like, “what do you think is the root cause?” or “when you were young, what were you feeding your eyes?”

Auntie and Uncle shared godly perspectives with me. I had to unlearn and learn a lot of things.

I was very thankful that they didn’t judge me at all, and that they journeyed with me in love.

Constantly pointing me back to God, they helped me to see how God sees me. They helped me see things from God’s perspective.

And when I could not express myself, they articulated the words for me.

My spiritual parents are humble and prayerful. Each night before I meet them, they will always be praying and asking God if there is anything He wants them to tell me.

Their godly and steadfast example makes me want to be like them as I grow older: ministering to people, praying for others and helping them to navigate life.

When we meet, there is no fixed schedule. It’s more like a conversation, and we can talk up to three hours sometimes! And we always end with prayer: confessing, breaking, proclaiming, surrendering.

In these meetings, what I greatly respect about my spiritual parents is that they are not afraid to correct me. They do it because they know it will benefit me, and they know how important it is for my spiritual walk to be right with God.

That’s why I always go to them before making any major decisions in life.

Personally, I feel that spiritual parents are different from mentors because spiritual parents tend to be considerably older.

Sometimes, your mentors can be your peers, especially if you’re in a church that has a mentoring structure. Your mentor might only be a few years older than you.

With age comes experience. I love that I can speak to someone who has already walked my paths — they can counsel and guide me not to make the same mistakes that they have. That’s what my spiritual parents do for me.

My spiritual parents are not afraid to correct me. They do it because they know it will benefit me, and they know how important it is for my spiritual walk to be right with God.

It feels strange sometimes when my spiritual parents tell me, “Cheryl, we love you so much. I wish you could see how we see you! You’re so precious!” 

They’re not even my blood parents. How can they say they love me so much?

But they keep affirming their love for me each time I meet them. They really exemplify the love that God shows to His children.

  1. Do you have a spiritual parent or mentor in your life? 
  2. Who might be someone you could approach to take on that role? 
  3. Who is someone you could be a spiritual parent or mentor to?