One thing I’ve learned in my many years is that the old adage is true; no man is an island unto himself. God intended for there to be relationships. If you go all the way back to Genesis the first person to person relationship God showed man was his relationship to his wife. Family and generational transfer was obviously important from the beginning. Throughout the bible you will see many types of relationships. One relationship type that people don’t tend to attribute to the bible however is that of the mentor.
While you’ll not find the literal word mentor mentioned in the bible, the reality is that there are numerous examples of it all through the bible. It amazes me to realize that so many people don’t understand the place, purpose or value in having a mentor. I thought I’d spend this time to show the value in mentors and hopefully you will either seek out your own or consider becoming one to someone you see in need of one.
- Mentors have been where you want to be. If you already have a vision, yet don’t exactly know how to get from point-a to point-b, it helps to have someone who has been where you are to help get you to where you want to go. Think of them as a guide helping to navigate you through the jungles of life. They know the terrain and the obstacles might make the journey for you difficult. They’ve experienced the pitfalls and mistakes. If they’re good, they can help you to avid most of them.
- Mentors have knowledge you desire to know. There’s nothing better than having someone with the inside track of knowledge. Think of them also as a repository of wisdom. A good one will not be intimidated to empty themselves of the wisdom they’ve obtained. They want to see you succeed.
- Mentors tell you what others won’t. If you’re not really the person who can handle critiques or hard truths, than having a mentor will become the greatest challenge for you. A great mentor will get right down to the nitty gritty and lay things on the line, even at the expense of your feelings. Growth sometimes cuts. Think of yourself as the plant that they must periodically prune so that you can fully reach your greatest potential.
- Mentors see what other don’t. Unlike a friend, colleague or some other personal relationship you may enter into, a mentor will have insight that another doesn’t have. Think of them as eagles, able to see much farther than others. They have a perspective that others tend to miss.
There are those who say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In many cases that is true. However, when it comes to mentors, they must be sought. Unless a person typically lives to mentor others, they generally won’t seek you out unless there is something truly attractive or distinctive about you.
As a final thought: if you’re considering seeking a mentor, know why you need them, the parameters of the mentor-mentee relationship and be able to determine when they’ve taken you as far as they can. One mentor may be able to take you from this point to that, but not the next. You may also find that it is necessary to have multiple mentors if one has strengths in one area and not another. It surprises some to think that they might actually not be able to get all they want out of a single individual. But in many sports, you’ll notice that there is essentially a coach for every position. If you find one that happens to have everything you aspire to, that’s awesome. The key thing here is that in whatever your intended goal or destination in life, you don’t have to be in it by yourself.
QUESTION: What issues have you faced in either finding a mentor or in mentoring others?