September 10, 2012

Thoughts on Mentors and Who Has a Say

A couple of weeks ago I was asked how does one go about seeking out mentors, and what makes a great one.

My answer: I have no idea.

That is... I have no idea how to necessarily find them.

I have no neat, packaged answer for that... because for me, my mentors weren't people I purposefully sought out, but God so graciously placed in my path and in my life pretty... blatantly. See, I tend to be pretty bullheaded in not seeking out "mentors," but for whatever reason God decided to go easy on me in this season of my life and let those relationships form quite effortlessly on my part. I'm not saying that's always been the case or always will be, but for this stage in my life it has been. And I know for some people getting those mentors in your life is not so... clear or simple or easy. So I'm not sure I can give the best advice as to how one should go about obtaining a mentor (although, praying for them would be a great start), but I can give you the qualities I look for in a mentor:
  • They love Jesus and love like Jesus.
  • We have a relationship of some kind. People who have a say in my life are usually not those whom I barely know (unless I invite them to share their thoughts).
  • I trust them. Trust is something that is built over time, be it years or hours... because some people you just "click" with and trust is easier with them than with others. Those who take the time to earn trust get to reap the benefits, one of which is speaking into the other's life. Critics are the opposite though. Critics want the freedom to have an opinion without investing in a person. They want to partake of the benefits without working for them. A critic is someone "who will talk about you rather than to you."
  • If they hear something negative about me, they give me the benefit of the doubt that it may not be true and approach me personally on the matter. This is serving one another humbly.
  • They can talk me off my cliff moments. We all need people in our life who have that ability.
  • Those who confront in private get more of a say than those who do so publicly.
  • They continue to love and encourage even when disagreement arises, rather than throwing in the towel and calling it quits on the relationship. 
  • They correct out of love for me because they see the potential, assume the best about me, desire to see me grow and continually be redeemed and restored.
  • They have a somewhat good grasp of what my life has been and is currently. (Because your background does influence you, and it matters.)

I think if a person has a couple of people in their lives like this, than that's really good. What I'm saying is don't feel like you need to have dozens and dozens of mentors, having one or two alone is an awesome thing. And it may very well be that there are people in your life who in many ways are a sort of mentor to you already, but that's not what you would necessarily call the relationship at "first glance." I guess what I'm trying to say is, with my mentors, I wouldn't have really stamped them as such, because they came out of meaningful friendships first. For instance, probably my biggest mentor in my life right now is my friend Lauren. Lauren is a couple of stages ahead of me in life. She's an awesome professional Christian counselor and we share a deep love of good food, good coffee, and the movie Elf. Lauren was the very first person I met when I started going to my (now) home church. Then as "luck" (or I guess rather "Providence"...very Anne of Green Gables word there... but I digress) would have it I "just so happened" to sign up for her community group later that week without knowing it. Since then I've sipped dozens of Chai lattes and coffees at Starbucks with her, she's consumed my meals and desserts with much enthusiasm (I like that), we've swapped favorite books, and taken spring/fall hikes. Lauren has all those qualities I mentioned above, and then some. She almost always has a smile on her face and she can start up a conversation with pretty much anyone. She's one of those rare people who doesn't just talk about the love of Christ, but she embodies it in her every day life, which is exactly why I love her and think she's awesome. So, those are just my thoughts on the matter. 

What about you? Who have been some of your mentors and what made them so?

6 comments :

  1. Really glad you wrote on mentors - great list of traits.

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  2. I've had a few godly women I've admired along my journey. I can't say I've had a mentor that has done one-on-ones with me. If anything, when I asked for a mentor, God have me someone to mentor lol -__-

    I have had to rely on forgotten authors who have been prophets, preachers, missionaries and martyrs.

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  3. what a great post girl:) i've actually been thinking a lot about mentors lately, and really desiring one. I tend to always be one of the older people in the groups i'm around, so by default end up mentoring others (which I love) but have been praying that God would open the door for a mentor! Love your thoughts! love Katie

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  4. My college had a great program to set students up with staff and faculty as mentors. I had an amazing woman who was honest, loving and fearless. She wasn't afraid to talk about things that were seemingly taboo. She dug deep. It was a life-altering experience spending two years with her.

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  5. I love this post, Natalie! I really haven't had a mentor before even though I desired one. I think God might be bringing one into my life, and for that I'm so thankful. I will say, too, that the friends I've met through blogging have been sharpening to my spirit and they have really grown me through their posts and conversations we've had. I'm so thankful for His provision in that way!

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  6. I have a few that i know I can always go to with questions or just awful days. I love having friends/mentors like how you described.

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