Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and How to Find One

A few years ago, I wrote a study called Mentor: How Along the Way Discipleship Can Change Your Life. That study was directed to college students because I believe every young person needs a mentor. Now, at age 53, I’m convinced EVERY person needs a mentor. Here’s why:

  • It’s biblical. We can name them. Moses and Joshua. Jethro and Moses. Naomi and Ruth. Elijah and Elisha. Jesus and His disciples. Paul and Timothy. Paul Himself told us that elders must teach the next generation (Titus 2).
  • We’re created to be in relationship with others. When God declared it was not good for Adam to be alone (Gen. 2:18), He was not indicating that every person must be married. Instead, He was showing us that none of us is created to be a loner. He expects us to walk together with others.
  • None of us knows everything. I don’t know anyone who would say he knows all things, but I do know people who live that way—distanced from others, standing alone and completely unteachable. We are not so smart that we have nothing to learn from another.
  • All of us have blind spots. By definition, a “blind spot” is something we don’t see. So, if you say you don’t have blind spots, you just admitted you do. We need someone else to help us see ourselves fully.
  • Experience is a great teacher. We know that truth because we’ve been there. We know better now because of mistakes we made in the past. In a good mentoring relationship, we learn from somebody else’s experiences as well.
  • Life will sting sometime. It happens to all of us. The proverbial floor drops out beneath us. Our plans get redirected or shattered. Life hurts—and we need someone to help us carry the burden when it does.
  • People are God’s gift to us. Dr. Bill Lane, the mentor of Christian musician Michael Card, put it this way: “When God gives a gift, He wraps it in a person.” We miss this gift when no one walks beside us to guide and encourage us.

So, how do we find this mentor? Here are some steps to take.

1. Forget about how old, trained or smart you are. You will need somebody to pour into your life until you die.

2. Pray for a mentor. God alone creates “divine intersections” when one life crisscrosses another in such a way that both lives are strengthened. Ask Him to show you those intersections in your life.

3. Look around. Watch for believers whose lives you trust. Look for those whose walk with God you want to emulate. Pray about asking one of those persons to mentor you.

4. Realize that most people have never been a mentor. Any person you ask is likely to not understand what mentoring involves. Your very request may catch him/her off guard. Don’t be surprised—and don’t let this truth stop you. Start a conversation.

5. Ask … and keep asking until you find a mentor. The issue is really quite simple: If you want a mentor, you’ll likely need to ask somebody. Take a risk, and do it. Tell somebody you’ve watched his life, and you want to learn from him. If he says “no,” ask somebody else. Don’t stop looking and asking until you find somebody. It’s the devil that wants you to give up.

6. Be grateful for whatever a mentor might offer. You may want to meet with a mentor once a week, but he has time only once per month. Your preference may be for your mentor to focus on theological training, but he feels unqualified to concentrate there. Even if your mentor cannot give you all you want, be thankful for what you get. One hour with the right mentor is worth weeks of waiting to meet.

7. Invest in somebody else yourself. Even while you seek a mentor, you have something you can teach somebody else. You might find that God will direct you to a mentor after you begin giving yourself away.

Here’s an idea. If you are seeking a mentor, send this post to someone who might invest in you—and then ask. Tell us how we might pray for you as you trust the Lord for His divine intersections.

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.