I’ve always felt kind of bummed that I have never had a formal “mentor”.
You know, someone to meet with me regularly in a discipling relationship…to challenge me and encourage me and model all those disciply things.
Even though it’s never been structured like that, John and I have both had mentor-types that have been hugely influential. We’re really so grateful for amazing Jesus-followers we’ve learned from. When we were out to dinner the other night I was struck by how often we quote what these older wiser folks have taught us!
About five years ago our daughter, Katy, was interested in finding a mentor and asked me what I thought. It’s certainly not an exact science, and affinity and timing are key, but I reflected a bit and came up with the following suggestions on how to get a mentor…
- Put yourself in environments where you’re around people who are living out a life of discipleship you find authentic and winsome (No, not Superwoman or Spiderman, just someone a little more mature in the faith than you are maybe)
- Identify several people (or just one) you admire and would like to spend time with.
- Invite each of the people out to coffee or lunch. Tell them you’d like the opportunity to get to know them better and ask them some questions to learn from them.
- Before you meet with someone, think of questions you’d like to ask them. Maybe ask them to share their faith story with you. Or maybe what books have been most formative in their life? How do they grow in their faith? What is one big mistake they’ve learned from?
- After you’ve met with the potential mentors, decide if you’d like to ask one of them to enter into a mentoring relationship with more regular contact.
- Decide exactly what it is you desire from the relationship. Some mentoring relationships are short-term, for a season, maybe focused around a particular skill. Others are open-ended.
- When you meet with someone to ask them to be your mentor, be clear what it is you want from them and why. What are your goals? How structured do you want to be? How often would you like to meet? Even if they have to say “no” for whatever reason, they will be flattered and you will have benefited from the time together. If they say “no”, ask them for other suggestions of mentor-types they think it would be good for you to get to know.
- Remember there are many different kinds of mentors. Think outside the box! Book mentors, Skype, small groups, yearly retreats are all possibilities…
Do you have a mentor? What have they taught you?