So often in life, we try to figure things out on our own. We try this and we try that, then we try something else. Sometimes our efforts yield the results we want. Other times we need some extra help! Finding a mentor to help us out is a great idea. It will save us time and help us to focus our efforts in the right direction.
Are you thinking, “What is a mentor?” A mentor is someone who knows more than we do about a subject, someone we can learn from to help us improve and grow in an aspect of our lives. That subject could be anything: faith, marriage, parenting, nutrition, home improvement, homeschooling, exercise, etc. Any topic you can think of, you can likely find a mentor for.
Now, are you asking yourself, “Do I really need a mentor?” I will ask you a question: Is there an area of your life in which you want to improve and grow? If so, a mentor would be helpful to help you accomplish your goals.
My bet is, you already have a mentor. You may even have more than one. Do you have someone who you go and ask for advice or someone whose books you enjoy reading because you always learn something new? These people are mentors to you.
Sometimes we happen upon a mentor in our lives. Other times it is beneficial to search out a mentor to help us out.
Tips for finding the right mentor
Finding the right mentor is important. In order to do that, it is good to figure out a few things first.
What do I need or want help with in my life right now?
Identifying where you need or want some extra help in my life is the first step. I suggest writing a list and then picking the one that is most important to you right now.
Do you need help managing our family’s finances? Are you pulling my hair out not knowing how to effectively deal with our children? Do you want to take my faith life to the next level? Are you and your husband working to improve communication in your marriage?
Do I want to talk with someone in person, or can I find what I need on a website or in a book?
To help you figure out the answer to this question, you can ask yourself two more questions:
- What is the level of my need?
- In what way do I learn best?
If you need some guidance to help you to set up a simple monthly budget, a website or a book about budgeting may be just the right thing for you. If you want to take your faith life to the next level and you have already read more books about faith than you can count, you may want to find a spiritual director to work with one on one so you have someone to talk to and can receive individualized assistance.
It may take some trial and error to find the right fit for you. Also, the information in a book may be helpful for some areas of your life, and having some to talk to in person or on the phone may be what you need for other areas of your life.
How often do I want to be in contact?
What frequency of contact would be most beneficial to you? This will depend on your needs, your time, and what you feel like doing.
If you meet in person, on the phone, or via the internet, do you want to touch base weekly, biweekly, monthly, or on an as-needed basis?
If you are reading a book, will you read some each day or once a week? Will you give yourself a deadline to read and implement what you are learning?
Knowing how often you want to be in touch or read will help you to select the right person or resource for you.
Do this person’s values and beliefs align with my own?
I think this is a key component of the process. When we are searching for help and answers, we want to get information that will make our lives easier and help us grow. If we encounter someone whose beliefs and values do not line up with our own, this could pose a problem. We need to ask ourselves if our exposure to the person’s philosophy will help us or hinder us.
I like to connect with others who are encouraging and uplifting. Sometimes I need someone to be straight with me, but not to be rude or condescending. I also don’t want to expose myself to foul language. I want to learn from someone who shares the same faith that I do, if at all possible.
Decide what is most important to you and use that as a filter when you are evaluating people and resources to learn from.
Ask family and friends for recommendations.
This is especially helpful if you have someone you admire or know someone who made a change in his or her life in the area where you want to improve.
For example, you may have a friend who used to be flabby and is now looking toned and has more energy. If you are looking to have a better exercise routine and improve your health, ask her what she did to improve this part of her life.
How much am I willing to pay?
If you need some one-on-one assistance, there will most likely be a cost. If you need a resource like a website or a book, you can likely find them for free. Some websites sell courses and resources you can purchase if you choose to.
The library is a great resource for getting books: print, electronic, and audio versions. You can download an audiobook to a device and listen while you drive or make dinner. You may also find video tutorials in your library system (such as ones from The Great Courses).
Pray. Turn to Jesus and ask Him for guidance, discernment, and help.
God created us, and He knows us inside and out. He knows what is best for us. Pray for guidance and discernment as you work to find a mentor that will suit you.
Look in the Bible for answers to what you are searching for. You may find help and ideas that you did not expect.
A mentor is someone who knows something you want to learn more about so you can improve your life. You may even find a mentor in a friend, but you do not need to meet your mentor in person. You may find your mentor on the radio, a podcast, a website, or in a book.
To help you to find the right mentor for you, here are some steps to help you out:
- Identify what you need or want help with in your life right now.
- Decide if you want to talk with someone in person or find what you need on a website or in a book.
- Figure out how often do you want to be in contact with your mentor.
- Evaluate to find out if the person’s values and beliefs align with your own.
- Ask family and friends for recommendations.
- Know how much you are willing to pay.
- Pray. Turn to Jesus and ask Him for guidance, discernment, and help.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some resources to help you get started:
Marriage: Marriage Encounter, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Parenting: Love and Logic
Self-Improvement/Motivation: Do It Scared Podcast by Ruth Sukup
Home maintenance: Flylady
Your local library system: Look into electronic resources. If your library does not have a physical item you are looking for, ask if it is available at another library in the system. They may be able to transfer it to your branch at no charge.