Many people believe a leader in their life such as a boss or a pastor.is obligated to mentor them. Not true! Your boss is not required to mentor you. That’s like guacamole at Chipotle…it’s extra! Consider yourself extraordinarily blessed if a leader decides to mentor you.
Some individuals believe that because they are in a church the pastor or pastor’s wife is required to mentor them. False. Consider it a great honor and privilege if your pastor takes the extra time and care to personally mentor you. The pastor is entrusted with leading of the flock, the primary role of which is to train and equip. They can and should delegate as much of this as they prefer.
Mentorship doesn’t happen because you show up, or ask for help. You have to qualify.
It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Some people are simply not ready for mentorship. I have had staff members or their spouses in times past who might have considered themselves further along based upon their age or the number of years they served in the ministry, yet they did not qualify for mentorship. At the same time, there were teenagers in the church who did.
By now, you may be thoroughly confused, as you may have never heard this phrase, “qualify for mentorship.” Allow me to explain…
Pray about your mentor
Prayer is always the place to begin. Ask God to prepare you for qualification. Seek Him in leading you to the right mentor/mentors, and ask Him to prepare your heart to receive from them. This is not a decision or relationship to be taken lightly.
Cultivate a teachable spirit
It’s important to understand that if you are too full of yourself, there will not be room for you to take in anymore. To qualify for mentorship you have to recognize your need for input. A person who comes with an attitude that they already know as much as the mentor can’t be taught.
Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full soul loatheth a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.”
I know that my relationship with a mentee is going nowhere fast when every other word out of their mouth is, “I know,” “Yes, I’m aware of that,” and “Yes, I already know that.” Some people won’t be quiet about their qualifications long enough to learn from anybody else. There are mentees I have had who have repeatedly reminded me of how long they have served in the ministry, as if to say, “I’m beyond this.” Typically, that type of mentoring relationship hasn’t lasted long.
I was in a coaching group for pastors one time with a pastor who raised his hand multiple times a session to push back on the coach and let him know all about his vast experience, insinuating that he knew more. “Well in my church, I don’t do it that way. This is how I handle that,” and “I’ve been doing this for 20 years…” Our group didn’t even hide the eye rolls anymore after hearing this for months on end. It was so annoying! (By the way, that pastor is no longer in ministry. He crashed and burned. If he had listened to our coach, maybe things would have been different.)
The hungry soul — the one with the teachable spirit, will be filled.
When a mentor finishes a conversation with you, do they feel that you want their thoughts, wisdom or advice?
Why would God give you a mentor if you are not eager to learn from them and apply what they have to say? If you are not teachable, you are not qualified.
Develop a habit of learning something from every conversation
Listen up and listen closely! Hang onto every word that your mentor says. Write down what they say. Will they always get things 100% right? No. That’s not what it’s about. Remember, you are not just learning from your mentor’s successes, but also their failures. Mentorship is the benefit of experience without the pain of mistakes. A good mentor will share their failures and how you can avoid the same errors. You can indeed learn something new every day! To qualify for mentorship, you must be poised to glean from your mentor.
How much you receive is up to you
I’ve been mentoring people for decades now and over these years it’s interesting how some people will say, “It’s amazing the things I’ve learned from Deanna,” while others will say, “I haven’t really learned anything from her at all.” The truth is that mentees have much more effect on how much is received than their mentor does. In the parable of the sower, the same sower sowed the same seed on the four different types of ground. In other words, it was the same teacher, mentor or preacher, with the same techniques, presenting the same message. It is the condition of the ground that determines the results.
It’s interesting to me that in times past, I’ve experienced people leaving a church service telling me that they don’t feel the spirit of God, they feel dry, God’s not doing anything and they feel led to seek another church. After the same service somebody else will come up to me full of life or bawling, moved by the spirit — telling me that the presence of God was all over the place…they received a Word from God like never before, etc. What’s the difference? Same church, same service, same pastor, same message. Different person! To qualify for mentorship, you have to be truly be open to receive.
It’s up to YOU to do the work
Anytime I’m working harder in the relationship than my mentee, I realize that things are upside down. A mentor or a coach isn’t there to do the work for you. They are there to advise you as you do. To qualify for mentorship you have to be ready to do the work yourself..
Respect your mentor’s wisdom and their time
One time a staff member’s wife said to me, “I want to learn from you…please help me.” I said, “Meet me at my office this Thursday at 11:00 am. She sauntered in at 12:30 mumbling something about running late, not getting a shower in time, blah blah blah. I let that happen one more time before I said, “if someone doesn’t respect my time, they don’t respect my wisdom either…”
If your mentor tells you the Zoom call is at 1 pm, be there on time.
If you said you’d meet them at the coffee shop at 10 AM, be there on time or early.
If you were the one who invited them to the coffee shop, be ready to pick up the check as well, unless they insist otherwise
To qualify for mentorship you must respect your mentor’s time, schedule, and wisdom.
Get ready to be challenged
A mentor is not a friend, pal, or buddy that you just hang out with. You don’t show up at their place whenever it works out within your schedule. You must take meeting with them as seriously as you would showing up on time for a doctor’s appointment or the like. Your mentor is not your buddy or pal. This is not something that you pursue to be “up close and personal” with the leader or the “inner circle” of the church or ministry. If this is about your desire to be in closer proximity to the leader or the inner circle, STOP NOW. You are not ready! This is a relationship designed to get you to the next level. If you catch yourself saying to your mentor, “I just want you to talk to me like a friend,” or “Before you’re my mentor, I consider you a friend…” you are not qualified for mentorship. A mentor is not going to always tell you what you want to hear, but what you NEED to hear.
Go the extra mile, literally…
When you ask someone to mentor you, you must go to them instead of expecting them to come to you. I’ve had people call me from several hours away and ask, “Can we meet up somewhere in the middle?” Ummmm…no, you’re asking me to invest in you. I didn’t call you, you called me. So, you come to me. To qualify for mentorship, be ready to make the sacrifice needed to meet with your mentor.
Connect on their terms
You’re asking your mentor for the investment of their time and it’s important to meet on their terms. This means if they prefer phone calls, do that. If they prefer Zoom, do that. If they hate texting, don’t do that. I’m a person who doesn’t like to text. When I’m asking someone else for a favor and I know they prefer texting, I do that even though I don’t like it — because I’m the one asking them for a favor. I want to meet them in a way that is easiest for them. By the same token, when someone wants my advice on something and they text me, I ask them to send the same request on messenger or email.
One thing to realize is that when you meet your mentor on their terms you get the best out of them. When I text a mentee my advice it might be a sentence or two max because I loathe texting. When I’m emailing or IM’ing, they will get a lot out of me and it is better quality. To qualify for mentorship, be ready to connect on your mentor’s terms.
Don’t complain about the lack of results from the work you didn’t do.
I was part of a pastoral church growth cohort one time, and the coach told us, “Don’t you dare fall short of doing everything that is included in this program and then go out of here and tell people, “I tried that cohort and it didn’t work for me.’” I came to realize how right he was to say that. So many people fail to put in the work but then want to complain about the results that didn’t happen. To qualify for mentorship, be ready to take full responsibility for the results.
Is there anything you would add to this list, or challenge?