Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mentoring: The Ministry of Spiritual Kinship

A mentor is (usually) an older and more experienced person who shares information with another person and often serves as an advocate for that person.  Most mentoring is rather informal and unstructured.  This may be one reason the process is often hard to define or identify. 

Edward Sellner makes an attempt in this direction with Mentoring:  The Ministry of Spiritual Kinship. Sellner is a professor of pastoral theology and spirituality with a background as a chemical dependency counselor.  This unusual combination provides some fresh insights to the practice of mentoring.

 In this book, Sellner approaches the spiritual type of mentorship from several different perspectives.  He draws on the spiritual practices of the desert fathers, Celtic spirituality, developmental psychology, Jungian dream therapy, and the life of C. S. Lewis to illustrate the varied ways in which one might serve as a spiritual mentor.  This does not work in every instance, but the writer’s attempt shows the richness of the tradition. 

Two chapters were especially helpful to me.  In his discussion of C. S. Lewis, he provides a unique perspective on Lewis that shows not only how he mentored one of his students but how the Oxford professor grew spiritually in the process.  Sellner’s brief recounting of the role of the Irish anamchara or soul friend explains how this relationship made a significant contribution to Christian spirituality, making a link between soul friend and mentor that was new to me.

Sellner has used his experience, education, and imagination to bring new dimensions to the role of mentor.  This is an interesting read.

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