So you want a mentor, but have no idea how to find one. I can relate.
For the past 15 years I’ve had to seek out every mentoring relationship I’ve ever had, and eventually formed a step-by-step process to determine who I want to speak into my life and how to make that happen.
If you want a mentor, here are 8 steps you can take to find, land, and get the most out of your mentoring relationships.
1. Recognize Your Need.
Knowing you need a mentor is half the battle, but too often most people look for mentors who can speak into every aspect of their lives.
The danger with this approach is you are looking for a mentor that doesn’t exist outside of Jesus. Mentors might have something to say about everything, but if they do, they won’t focus on anything. Which in the end, won’t be helpful to you.
Instead, recognize what type of mentor you are looking for. Evaluate your life and ask yourself, “What part of my life do I need a seasoned leader to speak into?”
Struggling in marriage? Having a hard time prioritizing caring for people? Is your spending out of control?
Once you recognize your need, move on to step two.
2. Pray With Eyes Open
There is something powerful about praying for God to help you see what He sees. Praying with open eyes means asking God to reveal to you who could potentially be your mentor.
This requires you talking to Jesus while you are observing others.
Begin praying that God would help you notice who is exceptionally good at whatever area you are trying to improve. Write down why you believe they are exceptional at this (this will come in handy later) and ask Jesus & even other trusted friends if this observation is accurate.
3. Build a Relationship
Before you jump the gun and ask someone to mentor you, first build a relationship with them. I cannot overstate the importance of this step enough.
You don’t have to know everything about the person and they don’t need to know everything about you, but you both should know why this is going to be worth both your time before beginning.
There is no magical amount of time or interactions required before a mentoring relationship can begin because each relationship is different. Sometimes it’s as simple as you both want to and feel good about it.
Practically speaking, to begin building this relationship if you don’t already have one, here are a few suggestions:
- Make contact: If you haven’t had a conversation yet, introduce yourself, be friendly, and occasionally make yourself known via social media interaction or physical conversation. There is very little chance of someone mentoring you if they don’t know you.
- Give Value: If you want someone to mentor you, most likely you believe they will add value to your life. One of the most compelling things you can do is tell them why what they have already done has impacted your life. This gives value to them. People love hearing how they have already impacted your life for good. This will give your potential mentor a sense of what could be if more time was devoted to you.
4. Ask with Humility
Eventually, you just need to ask and ask humbly. Humility is less heard and more felt, but your words (written or spoken) will impact the decision.
Before asking, prepare your heart to ask and receive with humility. Humility respects the answer regardless of the reasoning or the outcome.
Sometimes people just can’t add another monthly meeting or email correspondence to their list, or they simply just don’t want to. And that should be ok.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t worth their time or someone else’s. And sometimes an initial no really means, not yet. But it could also mean no forever. Regardless, ask with humility and be prepared to respond with the same.
5. Present with Clarity
While you ask with humility, you must also present with clarity regarding what you are asking of them.
Are you asking them to talk with you once a week? Month? Quarter? Defining what you are asking them to agree to is so crucial in helping determine if it’s realistic for both of you.
Before determining what you will ask of them, consider the time demands of the individual. Think about their ministry, family, and even hobbies. You want this to be a blessing to them, not another job. Once a week or month might be totally double for some. For others, you might need to shoot for something different.
When you present with clarity here are a few things I suggest including:
- Time: How often will you talk? Weekly, monthly, quarterly? For how long? 30 minutes, hour, 2 hours, etc.
- How: How will you communicate? Skype? Coffee? Phone call? (Each demands a different level of preparation)
- What: What will you talk about? What area or areas you are asking them to speak into? During this part, tell them why you believe they are excellent at this (remember what you wrote down in step #2).
- Format: What will the format of the conversation be? Will you or the mentor provide questions to walk through? Will it be open ended? (Note: I strongly suggest the mentee NOT the mentor being the one who creates questions each week)
6. Prepare with Purpose
The quality of your time together will be directly connected to your amount of preparation. If you have great questions to ask, you’ll most likely have a wonderful conversation. If you don’t send questions in advance, or don’t take the time to really think through them, it probably won’t go well.
Nothing will help or harm your time together more than preparation or lack there of.
During our time together, we would Skype once a month and I would send questions in advance. The format I sent would be broken down into the following categories.
- Story Time: Developing a real friendship is crucial. Take 5-10 minutes to listen and care for one another.
- Leadership: For me personally, I asked Carey to help me grow in leadership. Each week I would craft a series of questions that corresponded to real life situations. Example… “What are the top three character traits you look for in potential ministry leaders? Why?”
- Personal: Leaders whom I respect not only have great competency but they have excellent character. Ask questions designed to learn from the leader’s heart. Examples… “What does your time with Jesus look like? What is He teaching you? Who do you allow to speak into your life and why?”
7. Implement Investment
It’s not enough to simply learn from others. You must implement their investment or you are both wasting your time.
Mentors want to hear and see how you are implementing what they are teaching you.
- Share a story of how you communicated differently with your spouse because of what you learned from them.
- Did they teach you how to budget? Show them how you are saving and saying no to spending.
- Whatever it is, record what you are learning and what you are doing with what they have taught you.
This doesn’t mean you implement everything they say, but it does mean you are looking for opportunities to test out what they advise.
8. Thank Profusely
Finally, thank them and thank them some more. Test out creative ways of saying thank you and showing them you value their time. Thank them publicly. Thank them privately through texts, emails, and notes. Send them gifts. Buy their coffee. Whatever you do, make it consistent and loud.
In reality, they aren’t asking for it and they might even try to decline it, but it will remind their heart what their head already knows…
They are making a difference in your life and it’s appreciated.