The mentee's goal is to be teachable and pliable. The following statements will define what mentoring is and what it is not:
- Mentoring is assisting not fixing.
- Mentoring is guiding not telling.
- Mentoring is walking alongside not lording it over.
- Mentoring involves looking forward not back.
- Mentoring helps us grow past hurts rather than rehashing them.
- Mentoring involves learning to depend on God through someone else, not depending on that someone.
- Mentoring encourages capitalizing on God-given strengths not focusing on weaknesses.
Understanding the breakdown of responsibilities for the mentor and mentee is essential. But finding (and becoming) a mentor also requires that you know what you're looking for and where to search.
Maturity Not Perfection Begin the process with prayer. Tell God about your desire for a mentor, and then ask Him to show you where to find the right one.
Take time to list what you hope to receive from a mentoring relationship. Prayer support? Wisdom? Vision? Encouragement? Sounding board without condemnation?
Once you're sure you desire a godly mentoring relationship and know what you want from it, try these suggestions:
- Go to your church leaders and ask for recommendations and referrals.
- Keep your eyes open for someone who exemplifies the traits you desire.
- Call the woman you notice. Ask for an appointment to see her about a specific issue. Use a go-between to set up a meeting if it feels more comfortable.
- Get to know her better to see if God might be leading you to this particular woman.
- Ask her advice about a specific challenge you're facing or clarity on a Scripture you've read.
- Inquire about her mentors and other women she has helped.
Some of the best mentors are those who don't formally see themselves as such. Wisdom is better than titles, and God has someone wise and special waiting for you.
The godly woman you find for your mentor should have a genuine heart both for you and for the art of mentoring. She should be willing to sacrifice time and energy and be willing to commit.
Your mentor should be a woman of deep integrity, who will keep the content of your times together confidential. She should demonstrate wisdom, patience and emotional and spiritual maturity, regardless of her age.
In his book As Iron Sharpens Iron (Moody Publishers), author Howard Hendricks describes the traits you should look for in a mentor:
- Seems to have what you personally need
- Cultivates relationships
- Is respected and consulted by other Christians
- Offers a network of resources
- Talks as well as listens
- Demonstrates a mature and consistent lifestyle
- Can diagnose your needs
- Shows concern for your interests.
Keep these qualities in mind as you look for a mentor. Perfection is not required, but maturity is. Your mentor shouldn't keep making the same mistakes; she should learn from them and use them to help others.
The role of a mentor is to help you become healthy, vibrant and mature. How that happens and specific areas where that happens depends on your own needs and desires. Soon you will begin to see God bringing into your life others who need what you have learned.
Ministry In, Ministry Out As the editor of Focus on the Family's Single-Parent Family magazine, my writing partner, Lynda Hunter Bjorklund, used a "ministry in, ministry out" model to encourage her readers not only to find a mentor themselves but also to become one. Ministry in happens when we find someone to walk alongside us, and ministry-out happens when we walk alongside someone else.
We have a tendency to look through a straw at the issues we face today and at our search for someone to help us address those needs. When we dare to give the challenges to God, we'll be able to notice people all around us in need.