I have had many mentors who have invested deeply in my life. I am who I am partly because of the intentionality of others pouring into my life. They have made me a better leader, better wife, mother, friend, and person.
Some of the more frequent questions I receive is how do I find a mentor?
If you want to find a mentor, you’ll have to be intentional. Do not let fear, insecurities or stereotypes be your guide. What do I mean by that?Often times we have a "look" or level of "education" we want people to have in order to believe they couid be a good mentor for us. Don't do that! The best way to know is to first list what you need and then communicate with them if they can offer these needs and if they have the time to commit to mentoring you. No stereotypes, no judgements, experience doesn't always wear a suit or attend your church or marry or are single. Mentors have to be people of high character and integrity, period!
Observe people. Who are people already in your life? You go to church with them? You see them in business or social circles? They are in a civic club you attend? They work out at your gym? Most likely you have potential mentors around you if you are consciously looking for them.
A word to my pastor friends. I do not believe every mentor in your life has to be another pastor. We may be thinking too highly of our profession if we can’t learn leadership (or life) principles from those in secular positions. Obviously, we should choose mentors who have high character and integrity, but we can learn from those who are not in ministry. Some of the godliest people I know are in the business world – and I’m glad they are – and I can learn from them.
Find someone with qualities you aspire to have. Think of an area where you feel you need to grow and look for people who seem to have excelled in those areas. In my experience, they will often share with you times of difficulty in getting to where they are today. You’ll learn from their challenges.
You can choose a mentor simply because he/she is humble. Its a quality to admire and to desire to emulate in your life.
Ask them to meet with you. I usually find a hesitation in people in making the first ask, but equally true has been how receptive people seem to be willing to meet with me when I do. This obviously needs to be reasonable. If it seems to go well on the “first date”, ask them to meet with you periodically. It doesn’t have to be often. It could be every quarter or every six months. You’ll learn valuable life lessons from them each time you meet.
Know – in a general sense – what you want to learn from this person, but then each time you get together come with questions for the person. You do the work to prepare for meetings unless the person takes this initiative. Most mentors will not feel they know how to mentor you. And, that’s okay, you can take the pressure off of them simply by having good questions, which glean from their experience in whatever area you are trying to grow.
I think we over-complicate the subject when we put too many parameters around what a mentoring relationship looks like. It can be a fairly simple process. There’s something you want to learn, find people who seem to have already learned it, meet with them and soak in their experiences, and then repeat often.
If you are serious about being mentored you’ll look for opportunities to allow people to speak into your life. You’ll have many mentors. And, your life will be richer.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
Apostle, Dr. Suzanne M Howard
Board Certified Mental Health Life Coach
Founder, Pastor and Apostle
Sixteen years, The Apostles House Inc.