mentor word in letterpress wood type

You Can Find A Mentor!

“I have always dreamed of finding a mentoring relationship with someone who I can really trust and rely on for advice and counsel in the ministry. Other people have mentors. Why is it so hard for me to find one?”

I wasn’t surprised when I heard these words from a Christian leader recently. I instantly remembered my own past struggles to find a mentor. It’s a challenge that’s common in ministry and there’s a path we can take to overcome that challenge. I did it and you can, too. Here’s how…

Ask God before you approach others. This gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to speak to you concerning how you were made, what you really need, what His plans are for you and what He wants to accomplish. This exercise helps you set aside your own agenda and exchange it for HIS agenda. “Show me your ways, O Lord…” (Psalm 25:4) This prayerful, surrendered attitude needs to continue throughout this process.

Create an “Ideal Mentor” profile. If you have surrendered this process to God through prayer, the Lord is most likely already beginning to show you what you need in a mentor. Make a list of 5-6 top qualifications you are looking for in a mentor. Man or woman? Age? Professional or ministry experience level? Spiritual maturity level? Brainstorm the list first, then prioritize the items to create the picture of what you are really looking for.

Make a dream list of people you’d love to connect with. Your ideal mentor might be someone inside your current circle but it may also be someone completely unconnected with you. Think big! Remember, you are dreaming in this phase. Don’t limit yourself with those negative thoughts of “they would never want to mentor me” or “they are too busy to spend time with me.” If their name comes to mind and they fit the profile, put them on the list.

Don’t ask people to mentor you. You are thinking, “I can’t just email or call this amazing person and ask them to mentor me! Besides, I don’t even know if I will connect with them.” Those are good instincts! Relationships don’t develop that way. They normally start small and grow. So, don’t ask these people to mentor you. As you reach out to them, just say something like, “I’ve recently been appointed to a new position (or am facing this new challenge or whatever) and as I’ve prayed about people who might be able to give me advice, your name was one that came to mind. I’m trying to be obedient to God by reaching out to you. You are someone I respect and I know your advice would be trustworthy. Would you be willing to meet with me for a short meeting sometime in the near future?” This wording is helpful because:

  • You are not asking for a relationship, you are just asking for short meeting.
  • You are indicating this is a thoughtful, God-directed process.
  • Generally, people appreciate that their wisdom and experience is valued.

Cultivate the relationships – all of them. These are valuable relationships that have been initiated by God. Take care of them. Be on time. Don’t stay longer than you said you would. Listen carefully and take notes. Send a thank you note after meeting. If you don’t connect deeply, don’t worry. You don’t know all of God’s reasons for sending you in that person’s direction. If one of these meetings was valuable to you, wait for a while, and then ask for another meeting. Let God turn this into an ongoing mentoring relationship if He wants to do that, but don’t force it. Over time, you will most likely connect with one or more of these individuals on a deeper level which can evolve into a mentoring relationship.

Let God mentor you. Your hunger for a mentor is, at its core, a hunger for God. It’s not wrong to want deep connections with other believers. One of the wonderful ways we experience Christ is through the Body of Christ. God has promised to give you wisdom as you ask for it (James 1:5; Psalm 32:8). He may do this through one rich mentoring relationship. He is just as likely to do it through many smaller connections with a number of people. It may be that He wants to meet your need in some other way you haven’t even considered yet.

Your dream to find a mentor is one that should be cultivated. It’s a noble quest to pursue wisdom from a trusted mentor. It requires patience and diligence, but what worthy pursuit in leadership doesn’t require this of you? The investment made on the front end will bring big dividends in the end. You CAN find a mentor!