It has come up so many times in conversations and on Facebook pages lately:
How do I find a mentor?
Well, it’s tricky, but as someone who has undeservedly had fabulously awesome people spend time with me—I have a few thoughts.
- The mentee ALWAYS pursues the mentor.
Always, always, ALWAYS.
What is the alternative–that they would come to me? Show up at my door and urge me to set aside time for them? Because I am so fantastic that in the midst of all the other ministry and life they have going on, they absolutely MUST know me?!
Of course we have to pursue them—of course! If I have my eye on someone who has that much to offer, then it is up to me to go ask him or her into my life. Under no circumstances should you ever wait for a stellar person to come looking to mentor you.
But beyond just asking the first time, we truly have to pursue them. Once a mentor in my life really only had 25 minutes for me, and it was on the way to drop off her kiddo at school…and I had to drive 40 minutes each way to get there. I drove there, jumped in the car and had multiple conversations with her little one in between hearing her wisdom, and drove home afterwards, gladly! I will take whatever I can get. Another time I was in the same city where a long-distance mentor lived, and I paid for a cab across town for a 10 minute chat. It was worth it. Over and over and over, Eric and I have paid the price to have amazing people feed into our lives.
If we are willing to pursue them, they may be willing to invest in us. And that is worth the inconvenience of pursuit.
2. They need a clear idea of what you’re looking for.
Clarity is really a great idea from the beginning. It is not guaranteed or even likely that a person will have the same idea of what mentoring means. You and I probably have different ideas. Shoot, I have different ideas from myself depending on the person and circumstance!
So explaining what you’re looking for is helpful. Under no circumstances should you walk up to someone and say, “I need a mentor, and I think you’d be great! What do you think?” Whether the answer is yes or no, you don’t want to be standing there scratching your head thinking, “What’s the big deal? All I wanted was to Google chat for an hour once a month about strategy…” when the other person is thinking, “No way am I going to be her new mommy.”
Here are some examples that are pretty specific:
“I think you really have a great handle on building teams, and I am trying to grow in that area myself. Once a month could I sit in a corner of the room during your staff meeting, and then debrief it with you for 15 minutes afterward?”
“I really admire how you balance ministry with your family life. Would it be possible for me to spend time with you for one day as you go about your activities, to observe how that works for you?”
And a few that are more vague:
“I really admire your strength, and how you have gotten through some tough circumstances in life. Could we get together this month for coffee, just to discuss how you’ve done this?”
“I’ve noticed that you have some competencies that I am still trying to build as a leader. Could I pick your brain about them sometime over lunch? I’ll pay!”
Once you have come to an agreement about general expectations, help or allow them to set boundaries. They may have an hour for you every week—awesome! It may be more like once a month, completely according to their schedule. Whatever it is, let them set the rules, and then decide if it’s worth it. If they are spectacular, it will be.
3. Show them your appreciation for their investment.
There are people who mentored me a decade or more ago that I still send a card to once in awhile to say thank you for everything they’ve done in my life. No matter how you do it, make sure they know you appreciate them. Often we FEEL overwhelmed that we have wonderful people in our lives, but they cannot truly be on the receiving end of this until we actually tell them.
And that’s it! I hope with these simple rules you will find it easier to launch out there and find someone to invest you.
Ready, set, ASK!!