Yesterday I mentioned in a post here the importance of mentoring. I have written extensively before about mentoring on another blog (unfortunately lost now) and wanted to post a couple of tips and thoughts on mentoring here.
In no particular order:
1. KILL YODA
If you want to have a good mentoring relationship, you have to kill Yoda. Often when talking about mentoring, our mindset is to find a jedi-master like Yoda who can become our personal life coach in all things. This is both unrealistic and unhealthy. Instead, find people who can help you in specific areas. I have a different person mentor me in finances than in spiritual growth, for example. Don’t look for Yoda becuase you will never find him.
2. DON’T WAIT FOR THEM
The responsibility to initiate and sustain the mentoring relationship is primarily with the mentee, not mentor. You should go to a person you would like to mentor you and ask them specifically. And be sure to let them know that you are not asking them to be your Yoda. For example, I remember going to a guy and asking him to mentor me in a very specifc area. I asked if he would be meet with once a month for six months for one hour. He said yes to that. He also told me that he almost never says yes to mentoring requests because most people don’t know what they are asking for or want some kind of open-ended undefined relationship. The truth is that most people who you would want to mentor you are already too busy and committed — be specific with them, initiate with them, and then show up prepared when you meet with them.
3. BE ONE
Everyone should have mentors and be a mentor. Do not ask someone to mentor you unless you are already mentoring someone.
4. HAVE TEN
Or, in other words, have lots of mentors. Again, I have people who mentor me in finances, spiritual growth, church planting, relationships, restoration, culinary, etc, etc — all different people.
5. SOMETIMES THEY ARE DEAD
We need to broaden our understanding of mentors. Some are people I meet with or talk with regularly, but others I will never meet — or are dead. For example, St. Ignatius (who has been dead a long time) mentors me in areas of discernment and vocation. John Ortberg, who I have only met a few times, mentors me on preaching and discipleship through his books, sermons, workshops, etc. Bill Hybels mentors me on leadership and Nelson Searcy mentors me on organizational systems. Finance? Dave Ramsey — i just do what he says and it works. But I also have mentors I meet with and know. Some are older, some are peers. And I have people I mentor in different areas. You need all of these!
Now in terms of finding someone to help you navigate to “manhood”, I think that some good mentors are that you will never meet include people like Dr. Henry Cloud and Dave Ramsey (finances is a huge part of the equation, I think) and John Eldredge. But you also need some real live men to mentor you too. Find people who are ahead of where you are who you respect their wisdom and insight and maturity in Christ. Then ask them to lunch (you pay) and have a list of 3-4 questions that you want to talk about. After you meet, if there is good chemistry, ask them if they would be willing to meet and talk regularly. Then go from there.
Thoughts? Anything I missed? Other suggestions?