The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications
Finding Mentor.jpg

E037 - How Do I Find a Mentor?

Joanna: Finding a mentor, for some of us that's the first obstacle we don't even know how to go about finding someone to help make us better. So today we're going to talk about that I want to hear from you James.

James: In the previous episode we talked about the compass with the North, South, East, and West. And today we're to talk a bit about the North. How do you find a mentor? Because I think this is the hardest thing for us to do out of all four those things. I think it's easy for us to approach peers and just do life together. I think it's also easier to find someone to mentor if you're going to seek it out because you're in a place where you will probably be more experienced or older and it's easier relationally to say hey I'll mentor you. Like there's no vulnerability there. But when you ask someone above you who you respect there can be a fear associated with it. There can be vulnerability issues. And so we're going to dive in a little bit here on how to kind of approach that person and find that person. And so I'll share a little bit of a story of my very first mentor. My very first mentor came actually from my parents asking someone for me. And this was an older gentleman in the church who I actually really respected he was very successful. He actually opened up his property and his barn area for our youth group. And I remember just always getting along with him his kids it all kind of grown up and I was going through a time where I was extremely rebellious. I'm a pastor's kid so we're always the worst. As I was extremely rebellious I was you know flunking. I was flunking certain classes in high school. My parents were pulling out their hair. My mom was threatening to send me to military school. There was lots going on and this person very graciously came alongside and said let's do coffee once a week and let's just talk about life and you know what helped is he was able to give probably the exact same things my parents were saying to me but it was a different voice and it wasn't my parents who I was rebelling against. And that really helped start to straighten the ship. It didn't just happen. I didn't just get a mentor and all of a sudden my life was great. But what I do look back on and even in the moment I didn't realize how much he had helped in that time helping me out. But looking back I can see that that was a bit of a course correction was a brief nudge to say aim yourself back a little bit this way. And so as I've gone on in life I think I've seen the value of having mentors and I've had a few different mentors along the way. And I think the biggest thing is just to just to ask just to do it I know it can be very scary. I think I've had sweaty palms asking people hey here's a thing I was thinking I would love some advice would you mind meeting for coffee once a month once every two weeks. I think that's the way you approach. Almost like a first date.

Joanna: That's exactly what I was gonna say. It's like with the level of expectations of a first date and they may or may not say yes.

James: It's not exactly a first date in that you want to court them in but I think what you're saying is Hey I respect you and I actually really appreciate either this in your personality or your role within the church. If you're approaching another leader in the church or it's your business dealings and the things that you've been able to be successful at and it is an up and down relationship not in a dating relationship it's east and west. Well it should be that it should be that is the way it should be. This week on the Joanna and James talking about dating a show. But basically yeah it's an up and down relationship so you are you are asking them to feed into your life and in turn you also need to be vulnerable so they can give you as much good guidance. And so it is it is a very vulnerable conversation but I think you need to pray about it. Maybe ask some people in your life who are the East and West some advice on the person you're thinking about because they might have an opinion on whether or not that is a good person to have influencing you. Because this person is going to influence you if you come with an issue and this person has experience they are going to probably guide you so you also want to be picking the right person. And so other people's advice is important.

Joanna: Well and I think to related to that as you said it's kind of like asking on a first date that your expectations should be were going not for, if you ask someone to spend time with you you're like giving them what feels like a marriage proposal quote unquote of a mentoring relationship that's a big no for most people. Especially if there's someone who's worth mentoring you they're probably busy and they probably got a lot going on that's really awesome and so they want to choose how they use their time wisely and so when you ask them for an hour of coffee or a meeting or a breakfast or whatever that's on their terms. Their schedule, not yours. And then see how that 1 hour goes. You know I often if I send someone an email or if it's in person I say you know here's something I see in you that I really admire or would love to learn from. Could I buy you a coffee or could I take you for breakfast before work or whatever their terms would look like so they can learn that thing from you and hey if that one hour goes well then maybe there's quote unquote the second date but I don't mean date at the second meeting and maybe from there it can grow into something where you meet a number of times a year for that development. But don't ask for the whole thing the first time you don't even know if actually it's gonna be a click like you may get into it yourself and realize it's not really a good fit for you and so just ask for that one hour and then see where it goes from there and if they say no it's OK. It's not necessarily about you there's lots of other things going on. It doesn't mean you know if they say no there's other people. And that's where I want to think too about the idea of what I call a board of directors. I think some of my own sort of disappointments when it's come to mentoring has been when I thought this one person would be all things and be able to give me advice in so many categories of my life. Or maybe I took their advice and something they weren't very expert in and it might have gone wrong for me and I got hurt by it in some way not because they meant me harm but they just didn't know much about that stuff. And so when I talk about a board of directors I think of like who is a person who you can admire and look to advice on your finances or maybe there's a person or a couple you can look to as a married person and in your in your marital relationship or there's another person who might be able to mentor you professionally in business stuff but the person who's mentoring you in business is probably not necessarily the person who is your spiritual mentor. They may be the same person but it's very unlikely that someone who's good at one thing is good at all the things. So with the board of directors you get to appreciate and learn from the thing that they're really skilled at but you don't expect them to be like Jesus to you where they're good at all the things.

James: Absolutely. And these are all we're talking about a lot of different relationships so they don't all need to be face to face. You're constantly everyday having coffee with mentors. I have a business mentor who I basically email every two months sometimes it's just an HR question or it's a how I'm running my business question. It's things like that and so we met once actually face to face and now it's just an email relationship. And that's OK. And I still see this person and we say hi and we chat but they're also very busy and have a travelling work schedule so they don't have the time necessarily to always meet for coffee and neither do I. But it's helpful to know that if I have a question I can at least reach out to a person whose opinion I really respect and that person's a mentor. It doesn't have to be a really heavy relationship. It can just simply be the understanding of the terms of hey I would like to be able to do this with you and bounce ideas off of you. Are you willing to do that? And if they're agreeing that it means that they're probably agreeing that when that e-mail bounces in they're willing to respond within 24 hours kind of thing. And so it's important to understand the terms and also just to understand that if we're going to talk about a board of directors it doesn't mean you're always out having coffee that they can be texting relationship. It can be e-mail can be a phone call.

Joanna: It can be once a year you meet up and talk about your finances and just a catch up and see how things are going. Awesome. Well I hope that encourages people if you're feeling like you're missing a place on your own personal board then I hope this week God would continue to show you who can be part of your board of directors.