Over the years, I’ve found some incredible mentors in my life—people who have spoken words of wisdom and guidance into our marriage, finances, personal life, and ministry. These people have left me wonderstruck by the richness they've added into my life. But to be honest, finding such people hasn’t been easy. At times, I’ve reached out to people I hoped would become mentors who didn’t respond, didn’t have time, or didn’t particularly connect with the idea. Other times, I’ve waited for people to reach out to me, even dropping hints along the way, but the relationship never developed.
Here are four keys I’ve discovered to finding the perfect mentor:
1. Reconsider the meaning of mentor. One of the great challenges of mentoring is that the word “mentor” means something wildly different to everyone. Some people think of a mentor as a sage who answers life’s toughest questions. Others are looking for someone who looks more like a best friend. Still others are looking for a business or life coach.
Rather than use the word “mentor” when approaching someone, consider simply asking someone to lunch to build a friendship and learn from them. Often these efforts produce a more organic, natural relationship and provide time for prayerfully considering if this is someone you want to learn from.
2. Make sure there’s a personal connection. Sometimes in our eagerness to find a mentor, we ask people we look up to to become mentors before any real personal connection is made. We may like them, the idea of them, or what they’ve accomplished. But when we sit down face to face with them, there may not be any real connection. If you’re thinking about reaching out to someone as a mentor, begin by simply getting to know them as a person and make sure some synergy between both of you exists.
3. Check out the person’s life. I confess to watching people’s lives from a distance and thinking, “Wow! I want to be like that so-and-so!” But as I learn about the person and their life, I've thought, “I don’t want to turn out like that.” We can learn from anyone, even donkeys, but if you’re going to invite someone to speak into your life, look at the fruit of theirs. Make sure you’re not aligning your life with someone who has self-destructive tendencies or behaviors.
4. Adjust your expectations. All too often, we’re looking for that superhuman mentor who can provide all the wisdom and insight we need in every area of our life. If we’re honest, we’re not looking for a mentor as much as we’re looking for a superhero who we can access on speed dial at any time. One person can’t possibly offer the guidance and wisdom you need in every area of your life.
Over the years, Leif and I have developed relationships with a spectrum of men and women who passionately love God. Some of them are brilliant when the topic of finances come around. Others have marriages that inspire us to love each other more. Others have rich insights into ministry. Others have wisdom in managing people. Others challenge us to rethink the way we approach writing and publishing. Still others have insights into prayer, growing in God, and diving into the Scriptures.
As we nurture relationships with these gifted people, we’re able to ask questions and learn from them when we’re together. But every person has different strengths. Identify the strengths of your mentor and learn as much as you can whenever you’re together.
Take a risk, and reach out to someone in your community today that can serve as a mentor and friend. Prepare to #livewonderstruck by what God just might do in and through you!
*Photo courtesy of here
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