Been thinking about this for awhile, but i think its important to redfine or re-look at our shepherding understanding. Personally i do believe having a mentoring program in Church is a good thing and one when done correctly can encourage the younger christians to grow.
What is the role of a shepherd ?
I do believe as a shepherd one's role is to provide guidance to the person they are mentoring. The important thing is to make sure we do not dictate or tell them what to do.. We are not God and are not suppose to be God over our sheep's life. The aim is to give guidance and advice and allow the sheep to make their own decision.
I have shepherd i know, that actually dictate who and what the sheep should do, where they should study and even who they should marry. That is very dangerous because then we are assuming the role of God.
The greatest problem of a shepherd and leaders
One issue that has been a constant of pain is this, sometimes members tell their shepherd some personal issue in confidence and then in the process, suddenly they found out the whole leadership knows about their issue.
We teach in Hope that if we talk about people without the person's approval then its gossip, but i tell you if a leader talks about a member without the member's knowledge its also gossip. The worst thing i have encountered is when leaders are found out, their excuse is so that we can help the person and learn. I think this is totally wrong, because principle cannot change, if you want to discuss about a member's issue make sure you let the member's know. Personally as a shepherd, if my sheep tell me something in confidence I will not let it out, unless i cannot handle then i would actually ask the sheep's permission or ask them to bring the case up.
I never like telling people's issue upwards without the presence of the person i am discussing because you can either misquote or misunderstood the issue and in the end make a mountain our of a molehill.
Therefore this saying that - every secret has to go upwards is wrong if - the person you are talking about, never knew or is not informed. I tend to dislike it when i attend leader's meeting and leader's discuss personal issues of people in their group. To me i consider it gossip, because the person do not know that this issue has become an open secret.
As leaders we need to uphold the standards we ourselves expect of others. To me I do agree that pastor's should know things happening in church and "if" it relates to the church but alot of times its people's personal struggle so unless permission is first sought before passing on the message, don't just assume pastors have the right to know at the expense of your own personal integrity.
Make sure that when discussing about issues in leadership meeting, no names are used and if a situation becomes too big just ask the person to speak to someone more mature and then pass it on upwards properly.
How to treat the person you are mentoring
Always treat the person you are mentoring with respect and understand that just because they may be our mentee, it does not automatically means they are not intelligent. we somehow have this assumption that all sheep are dumb, its just a paraphase, in reality not everybody would be as dumb as a sheep.
Sometimes we get this false precept that just because they are our mentee, they are not as smart as the leaders, but the problem is that as pointed out by some people, leaders sometimes are raised up very fast, resulting in people with the title but not necessary the experience nor skill to handle issues. I have met many people who i have mentored, who are well-adjusted, intelligent and smart people. They maybe new to the christian faith and lack the knowledge and that is sometimes about it.
Therefore always treat people with respect and in turn your mentee will respect you as a mentor.