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Mentoring: The Promise of Relational Leadership.

By Walter C. Wright.

Bucks: Paternoster Press, 2004, 160 pp.


Review by Mr Song Cheng Hock.

Mentoring is one of the most overworked catchwords among productivity, leadership, management and even Christian circles. Despite its overuse it still retains its lustre and alluring power. It is an irresistible word because it embodies a concept that espouses renewal, empowerment and organisational perpetuity.

It is one of those rare words that are whole-heartedly embraced by both the secular and Christian worlds. Secular organisations see it as a dynamic way of procuring results. Christians see it as an indispensable part of the discipling process, where the mentoree could replicate his learning experience with another person. It is the cycle of reproduction that makes it so appealing.

The advantages of mentoring are well founded. No one can convincingly dispute that. However, it can easily fall prey to its very own success. Far too often, adherents tend to focus only on the projected end result rather than the human interaction involved where actual honing takes place.

In other words, too little attention is given to the critical relational element, thereby suffocating the true essence of mentoring. Mentoring is not only about techniques. Max de Pree, emphatically maintains that "mentoring is not problem solving; it is growing together" (p. xiii) and that "it is a process of becoming, not an unimpeded march to perfection" (p. xvi).

It is no coincidence that Walter Wright prefaces his introduction with the heading "Wisdom for the journey." Mentoring is a life-long learning experience! When he talks about the journey, he is not alluding to the proverbial sprints and marathon comparisons. That is too passé. What he advocates is surprisingly simple, "Everyone walks his or her own pace" which is "a fundamental assumption of the mentoring process (xxiii).

The title of the book suggests that mentoring is "an intentional, exclusive, intensive, voluntary relationship between two persons - a teaching/learning connection between two persons in which both persons work to nurture the relationship and contribute to the connection" (p. 56). The focal thrust of Wright's thesis is, mentoring is not merely about an experienced mentor directing the young inexperienced protégé but both enjoying the mutuality with the mentoree taking more responsibility for learning. Here lies the difference between Wright's concept of mentoring and other popular books. That is, relationship and not techniques (though these may be important), is the real key that unlocks the potential of mentoring.  He spends nine chapters examining issues that are closely linked to relationships, covering character, encouragement, choice, growth, promise and others.

The book is written in a conversational style for easy reading. Usually one would associate such a writing style with popular self-help books that peddle pseudo-psychology but not this book. The style is a deliberate ploy intended to convey the warmth that shines forth from a relationship between the mentor and the mentoree. Walter has skilfully woven in personal anecdotes both to support his ideas and to illustrate the vibrant relationships he enjoys with his mentors and mentorees.  A significant mentor whom he engages with is Max De Pree, a respected Christian leader, who writes the "Forward" for the book.  An entire chapter is devoted on De Pree's life and the five themes that shaped his leadership, life and mentoring.  The themes will be of great interest to the readers:

·        Mentors and teachers

·        A philosophy or theology of management

·        The personal character and integrity of the leader

·        Learning through mentoring others

·        Asking questions that define reality

These themes shape much of Wright's thinking. The book is more than a theoretical treatise that argues for relational mentoring. It is a collection of stories of how lives have been blessed by the process of relational mentoring. It is these stories that make the content and the cause it argues for compelling.


In chapel on 27th July Dr. Satterthwaite spoke on Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14, under the title 'Remember your Creator'. His theme was that there are two sides to this passage. On the one hand it speaks in poignant terms of the brevity of life and of the need to recognize one's limitations (picking up the teaching of earlier parts of the book): we need to live responsibly, in the fear of the Lord, and in the knowledge that we will not live for ever. On the other hand, the passage counsels us to seek happiness, to enjoy the many legitimate pleasures which God has made available to us in this life, because in so doing we bring God glory. We might sum up the passage in the words 'Fear God, but live life to the full.' A few brief applications brought the talk to a close.

Chapel speaker on 10 August will be Ms Joan Teoh.


  1. New Admissions

  • K. Hukali Aye (Dip.CS 2004) is working toward the Master in Christian Studies. She is from Dimapur, India.

  • Por Tuan Cheng, Lawrence is a student in the Dip.CS. He worships at the Bethesda Church Bukit Arang and is actively involved in the community adoption programme and other church ministries. He is a manager and a graduate of the University of Manchester (B. Eng., Hons).

  • Ong Beng Hong is working toward the Dip.CS. He is an active lay leader in the Men's Fellowship and Adult Sunday School at the Life Bible Presbyterian Church. He is a manager and has a MBA degree from Nanyang Technological University.

  • Wong Ee Kian is a student in the Dip.CS programme. She is a graduate of the National University of Singapore and Stanford University, U.S.A. She is a member of Yio Chu Kang Chapel and serving in the Youth Christian Education and Girls' Brigade.

  • Chang Oan Ik, Apollos, is a student in the Master in Christian Studies. He is from Korea and has served as a missionary for several years in Asia. He is a graduate of Jeon Buk National University and Chongshin Presbyterian Seminary.

  1. Courses Commencing in August 2005.

  • Counselling Skills: Dealing with Stress & Fatigue (CO232, 1.5 credits), starting Aug 10, 7.15-10.15pm. Lecturer: Mr Song Cheng Hock.

  • New Testament Foundations II (NT102, 3 credits), starting Aug 12, 7.15-10.15pm. Lecturer: Dr Oh Boon Leong.

  • The Educational Ministry of the Church (CE101, 3 credits), starting Aug 16, 7.15-10.15pm. Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng.

  • Romans: The Gospel According to Paul (NT311M, 1.5 credits) starting Aug 22, 7.30-9.30pm at Zion BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13. Lecturers: Dr Quek and Dr Lou Jiann Hua.

BGST Lunchtime Seminars

Venue: 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 2nd floor

Day/Time: Friday, 12.45-1.30pm.

All are welcome to attend.


Aug 5    Dr. Miriam Adeney
'A Time to Be Ruth, A  Time to Be Esther -

What Women Can Do in the Kingdom of God'


Aug 12  Dr. Quek Swee Hwa
'Why Study Archaeology?'


Aug 19  Mr. Song Cheng Hock
'Why Study Counselling?'


Aug 26  Dr. Quek Swee Hwa
'Why Study Church History?'


A Blessed Birthday to ...

Ms Joyce Wee  9/8

Ms Teoh Cheng Ping  9/8

Mr David Leong Wai Yin 10/8

Mr Ong Teck Chye  10/8

Ms Tan Lay Yim  10/8

Ms Daisy Sim  11/8

Mr Ong Hock Chye  11/8

Mr Benjamin Lee  14/8

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