We are a generation that longs for good mentors. For people who’ve gone before us and walked the walk. For people whose mistakes we can learn from and whose successes we can emulate.
And yet walking up to a person and asking them to be your mentor often won’t yield the best result. It’s almost like asking someone to be your girlfriend before you’ve gotten to know each other. Too close too soon. Acceptance followed by awkwardness. Now that he said yes, where do we go from here? Keep in mind that many of those we want to mentor us haven’t been trained to be mentors!
Often we think of mentoring as a process whereby this wise sage spouts off wisdom while we sit at their feet and soak it all in. In reality, the best mentoring is life-on-life, where we not only listen to this person we admire but we also watch and learn from their day-to-day life and from proximity to them. And you might need several mentors depending on the life stage you are in or the different areas of your life. Examples are professional, business, ministry, marriage and leadership mentors.
So how do you enlist a mentor? A couple of tips I’ve found helpful…
a. Serve – find ways you can serve this person. Do they need someone to do errands for them? Volunteer. Do they need someone to pick their kids from school? Offer to. Sometimes we can’t see what they might need from us. But are you good at something that could be of benefit to them? Offer to do it for them. I remember one young lady who got an excellent mentor because she offered to cook her fine chapattis for her family every month! Serving gives proximity. Proximity provides opportunity. Opportunity to learn by watching your mentor respond to life situations.
b. Treat – invite them to a concert, offer to buy them lunch or coffee, buy them a book you know they’ll like. I often treat my mentors out for a meal, and even if I’m the one who buys each time, I remember I’m the one who needs their wisdom!
c. Be Specific – when you have an opportunity to spend time with your mentor, think through the questions you’re grappling with or issues you’re thinking through. And then ask their opinion. You benefit a lot more from a mentoring relationship if you’re prepared beforehand!
d. Appreciate – remember to thank your mentors regularly. An sms to say what a blessing they’ve been to you, a thank you card etc
While we’re at it, you learn most from a mentor if you’re also mentoring others. The knowledge we keep the most is that which we apply, and the easiest way to apply is through passing on to others.
P.S. A lifelong reader was asked by friends, ‘How do you get time for it?’ He replied, ‘I don’t get time for it; I take time’.