So you want to meet with me…and Five Ways to Find a Mentor

Whenever someone wants to spend time with me, I almost ALWAYS ask them who they are already running with and what their specific questions are.  I LOVE getting with groups, and frequently “demand” that any individual who asks to meet with me bring with them 3-5 others who they “run” with or want to influence themselves.  I do this for several reasons:

  1. It multiplies my time.
  2. Life change happens best in the context of relationships.
  3. It keeps the conversation going and multiplies the questions.
  4. It removes the “excitement” of getting to be “the guy” who got some time with “the guy”.
  5. It minimizes any confusion that might come in something I said because only one set of ears heard it. (Of course, the opposite is also true. My stupidity could be confirmed by the masses and I’m willing to take that risk.  I have had a lot more trouble with the former than the latter.  People who are “advice seeking” love to isolate their counselors so they are the sole arbiter/interpreter of what they heard from their “multitude” of counselors.  Meeting with 10 different “counselors” one at a time is infinitely worse than meeting with the 10 of them together, and since it is hard to get 10 counselors together at once the next best thing is to have your community with you when you meet with any counselor.)
  6. It produces immediate accountability if something is shared that needs to be acted on.
  7. Nothing else comes to mind, but 7 is the perfect number, and I wanted to put something that looks like I had perfect thoughts on this.

The other thing I almost always share with people, and ask from them, is for them to come with questions. The majority of the time, I ask for the questions, or at least a good representation of what the main question(s) are going to be, in advance.  I know from experience that if folks really have questions, firing them right back is NO problem.  If, however, they are a victim of the “if I can just get a meal/cup of coffee with ‘the guy’ then my life will change, my dating life will pick up, my career will advance, I will become more popular and Jesus will be able to use me more” mentality, I sometimes don’t hear back.

So read the below, use the above, and keep seeking Jesus with all your heart.

Jesus is available, is worth telling others you know Him personally and you can spend all the time alone with Him you want.

Proverbs 4:7

Five Ways to Find a Mentor

By Michael Hyatt (This is a guest post by Daniel Darling. He is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of iFaith, Connecting with God in the 21st Century. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.)

The value of a mentor cannot be overestimated. A mentor is someone who is a few laps ahead of you in an area of life where you wish to find success. More than formal training, more than a book or a seminar, a good mentor brings his or her personal experience to bear on your life in a way that may shape it forever.

But how to find one? It’s actually easier than you think. Here are five ways to find a mentor:

  1. Don’t Start with Seth Godin or Max Lucado. Yes, we’d all love to have someone at the top of our profession mentor us. But not only is this unrealistic, it’s also unhelpful. Chances are that the advice of someone at the very top would be intimidating or unhelpful to you at your current pace of life. Instead, look for someone a few levels ahead of you in your chosen field. Someone accessible to you. There is a pastor in my community whose church is medium-sized, but not mega. Since I pastor a small church, he’s perfect for me and has the time.
  2. Attend trade functions or gatherings in your community. As a pastor, I regularly attend pastor’s gatherings in our area. I’ve also done this in the Christian publishing field. Simply attending and meeting new people has led to many rich mentoring relationships. If you stay inside your office your entire life, you’ll never experience the opportunity to be enriched by the wisdom of others.
  3. Make friendships through simple conversation. You don’t find a mentor by asking someone, “Can you be my mentor?” That’s a bit awkward and may seem to put a heavy burden on someone who doesn’t know you very well. Instead, meet people, develop relationships through conversation and let natural human interaction be your guide.
  4. Follow up with a request to meet again, one-on-one. If you’ve gotten to know someone you think you can learn from, get his contact information and ask him something like, “Hey, I’d love to sit for coffee and pick your brain on _______.” This is the intentional part of finding a mentor. I’ve done this a number of times both with pastors and with writers and have found them eager to share what they know about their chosen field.
  5. Ask questions. When you do meet for coffee, pepper the mentor with questions and then sit back and listen. Ask him questions like, “How did you get into this field?” “What have you learned over the years?” “What do you think of this idea?” Don’t try to wow him with all you’ve done. You’re there to learn from his success.

Mentoring relationships are valuable . . . and they aren’t complicated. They are simply friendships which have the potential to help shape your future.

Oh, and a bonus tip: pick up the tab. The wisdom you gain is well worth the price of a latte.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “So you want to meet with me…and Five Ways to Find a Mentor

  1. Todd, interesting points of view, thank you for sharing. Coincidentally, I have been recently in search of a ONE-ON-ONE mentor. About a year or so ago, I met w/a Godly man (in his 70’s) that said something along the lines of: “we just don’t really do that anymore- whereas one guy (usually older) sits down with one guy and shares his life with him, walks him through scripture, and helps in his development as a Christian man. And it is unfortunately b/c we are in desperate need of men sharpening men and creating leaders.” I have read further on this subject (IE the lack of one-on-one mentoring in the church) and have read many things that could be summed up like this: “everyone wants to do great and big things for God, everyone wants to lead big groups, serve many men, get the most “bang for their buck” when ministering, but when it comes to the great sacrifices needed for one-on-one training/mentoring (IE Joe White/Men-at-the-Cross), the workers are few.

    I could cut/paste many scriptures on this important biblical concept that demonstrate the importance of this subject (IE Paul/Timothy covenant), but I would bet you know them (better than I do :-)) …one-on-one vs. one-on-some.

    Lastly, As I serve in the Regen ministry, I had another conversation with one of our leaders about the differences between AA (for example) and Regen. One of the differences appears to be that AA is a one-on-one discipleship program whereas Regen is a group discipleship program. Why is that? Shouldn’t the Church be the model to the rest of the world of what mentoring/sponsoring (or whatever you want to call it) looks like? In addition of-course to living in community which we do SO well at WM….love that about us! It may be worth noting that I currently sponsor/mentor 4 different men one-on-one (not overstepping Matthew 6 here but just sharing to make a point). And I must admit it is difficult, time consuming, heartbreaking (Gal 6), but also one of the most rewarding things I do, one that not only strengthens them but me as well. I feel we are called to this type of one-on one training with our brothers…fully aware that I may be wrong. Hence my response to your post (IE looking for direction/counsel)

    Sorry for the long-winded response but this is a subject that is dear to my heart and me and my girlfriend both have found it recently frustrating for either of us to find a mentor to pour into us as we pout into others.

    In Christ,
    Marcelo. (PS we’re friends on FB…feel free to reach out anytime)

    • Love your heart Marcelo. 2 Timothy 2:2 (along with a myriad of other verses) certainly does have something to say about this topic. But notice that even the most championed verse on discipleship (2 Tim 2:2) doesn’t say entrust to a faithful MAN but to faithful men. I don’t think there is ‘sin’ in doing it one on one but in the post you have heard my reasons for thinking it best to not. Most of what we have in Scriptures of Jesus has him grabbing His boys at least 3 at a time. End of the day…anyone making disciples, whether one at a time or one on three at a time I am for! Lead on friend.
      As for men at the cross…I think you can tell by my teaching with Joe at MAC events when I can and being a part of the encouragement and teaching of the Barnabas leaders equipping videos I am more than a little bit FOR the idea! Col 1:28-29!