Mentorship: Finding Purpose in Helping Others and Knowing When To Invest in Being Mentored

If you ask Google about mentorship, you will get all kinds of results. It will define the term, explain its purpose, tell you there are different types, and even advise about romance between mentors and mentees.

There is nothing wrong with Googling how to do what you want to do, but at some point you need guidance specific to you. That’s where mentorship comes in. Mentorship is available everywhere at every level from close friends who can give you free advice to paid memberships and hired professionals.

Mentorship is a Biblical concept. It is the idea that one generation (often older) has something to teach or give to another (often younger). It is about generations working together to glean wisdom that only time and experience can give you.

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.

Types of Mentoring

Traditional One-on-one Mentoring

A mentee and mentor are matched, either through a program or on their own.

Distance Mentoring

A mentoring relationship in which the two parties (or group) are in different locations.

Group Mentoring

A single mentor is matched with a cohort of mentees.

Every major decision of your life ought to be confirmed (through prayer and fasting, going to the Bible, talking to your spouse, getting counsel from your pastor, and talking with close Christian friends).

It should not just be you alone. You don’t just walk through any opened door.

Jantzen Franklin, The Legacy Study Bible

How To Know When You Need A Mentor

I believe it is important to seek out mentorship for any major decisions or life changes in your life. It is an act of wisdom to seek the wisdom of people with more experience and success in the areas that you are stepping into.

But how do you tell the difference between needing mentorship for a moment, a season, or a lifetime?

Mentorship length is determined by the need. If what you are needing council on is just a few decisions, you may only need to consult someone in a few sessions. If you are experiencing a roadblock or needing to gain knowledge in a certain area you are stretching to, you probably need a mentor for a season. If you are experiencing continuous transitions like business startups, growth, and expansion, you probably need a mentor that can help guide you through all those changes over a lifetime.

How do you pick a mentor?

When you are looking for a mentor, look at two things: what you need them for and who you know that has done that work successfully. If you don’t know someone successful in that area, do research and find someone. A lot of times friends and mentors who have helped you in the past can suggest good resources for your next level of need. Remember to be mindful to consider mentors that reflect like-minded faith.

Mentorship is a partnership that is often long-term, so you want mentors that you can get along with personally as well as admire professionally. If they are where you want to be or past it, that is a good sign. Of equal or greater importance, however, is that they share your faith.

Where do you find a mentor?

Once you determine who you know that has had success in your area of need, you have a list of contacts to approach for mentorship. Start by asking the successful people you know if they would be willing to mentor you. If you don’t know anyone successful in your area of need, research people who are and message them about mentorship.

Be reasonable in your expectations and vet the people you research. You can’t expect Jeff Bezos to personally teach you how to be the next big online marketplace, but you can find people online who will teach you how to sell well in an online market. To prove they are worth your investment, check out their work and Google their customer reviews. What other people say about working with them can be very telling. Don’t invest time or money unless you see proven results of what you want to achieve.

Why is a person’s faith important when determining who you should get for mentorship?

Scripture teaches us that we become what we believe, and we become like those we spend our time around. While it may be possible to takeaway universal truths from people outside your faith (like when you read a book from a secular artist), it is more likely that the outside faith will influence your belief system if you build a relationship with them where you are seeking their guidance.

The Christian faith is one that grows based on individual study of the Bible and partnership with Godly Christian mentors. Our faith waters down and steps away from Christianity completely if we step away from the Bible and follow guidance not based on it. So it is very important who you choose to be your mentor.

Should you pay for a mentor?

This is one I struggled with, but the answer is that sometimes paying for a mentor is necessary. There is an old saying that says “you get what you pay for”. In mentorship, if your only advice is free advice, you are not always given priority. When you pay for mentoring services, you are investing in yourself and your business as if you were pursuing a college degree in the area you are needing help with. Don’t be ashamed of needing to pay for someone to help you, and don’t be too cheap to think everything you pursue should be free. The best counselors charge for their time, and those rates vary often by how successful they are. Even if the rates are high, find a counselor that will work with you on a payment plan. It is worth it.

Final Thoughts

I have had both free and paid mentorship. When I first started my business, I relied a lot on close friends to help me with their free advice from their experience in the business. I also did a lot of research and signed up for all sorts of free resources like the amazing wealth of knowledge about remote jobs at Home Working Club and marketing insight from HubSpot.

Later, I realized I needed to grow in knowledge beyond our areas, so I invested in subscription-based mentorship with Matt Tommey Mentoring and Hope Writers.

The problem with subscription-based mentoring for me was there was little to no accountability. I had paid a lot of money to get into the system, but I was barely using it, so it made little impact on my business. Later, I made friends with other users in the subscriptions, and that helped me use them more for learning.

I got to a place where I was roadblocked personally and professionally. I didn’t know how to move forward, and it was effecting my mental health. I started to not care about life. I discovered I was actually afraid of being successful. That’s when I realized I needed to hire a recruiter and relationship coach.

Making that decision was hard for me because it was a big financial investment, but the return on my investment was immediate. I had daily texts, insight, and assignments. I had a whole path to follow to get out of my roadblocks, and I had people with proven success guiding me.

No matter where you are in your level of need, I hope you realize that your life and time is valuable. Don’t waste time trying to figure out everything on your own. Seek a mentor.

Charles Pulley: Non-Traditional Student Graduate

In 1964, in the rural country of Micro, NC, a young man named Charles Pulley was forced to fill some very big shoes when his father’s health deteriorated to the point of no longer being able to maintain the family farm. At seventeen, he left school and went to work on the farm. He met a girl at a dance, fell in love, and married her. If he had any hope of returning to school, that hope ended when he got married. Within a year, he was a father. Over the next eleven years, they would have two more children.

Charles did not regret his choices. He loves and lives for his family; he is a family man. Still, he regrets that his sacrifice was not enough to save the farm. By 1965, he was forced to sell it. The farm had been in his family for generations.

Charles divorced and remarried in the 1970s. He lights up when he talks about his second wife, Kathy, and the 42 happy years they have had together. Charles is happiest with his family; he has lived a full life with them. He worked in construction for over 50 years building bridges. Though he was a superintendent most of those years, he got involved with all aspects of the job. “You always got to jump in and help,” he says, “you can’t just sit around.” He was good with his hands and good with math; he was proud of the work he could do.

As his family grew, Charles grew more ashamed of his education. He had six grandchildren, and he didn’t want to tell them that he didn’t finish school.

“I want my grandkids to finish school and be the best that they can be,” he said, “and I don’t want to be the only one in my family without a high school education.”

Working and taking care of his family, Charles never really had the chance to come back and finish his high school education. When he started summer classes at Wayne Community College in 2018, he realized that it was harder than it used to be. Though he had designed and built bridges and managed job sites for half a century, he was dumbfounded by the math needed to complete the High School Equivalency test.

“I thought of dropping out,” he said, “but I told myself that I am not a quitter. I have never been a quitter, and I’m not gonna start being one now.”

Instead of quitting, Charles jumped in and committed himself to learning as quickly as he could. He attended night classes faithfully and absorbed material like a sponge. When he wasn’t picking up the math as quickly as it was being taught, he took it to his granddaughter and had her help him. Within a month–faster than most students half his age–Charles completed his High School Equivalency degree. On a test that requires a minimum scaled score of 45 to complete it, he scored 63. He didn’t just finish his degree, he finished with excellence.

Charles Pulley

Charles Pulley

Charles advises his peers to try harder and keep pushing towards completing their educational goals.

“Education is one of the main things in life,” he says, “Ignorance is an uneducated person.”

Charles is looking forward to the graduation ceremony in May 2019. He is on the church board at his church and has a lot of friends who want to be here to see him walk. “I like that,” he smiles, “I think that will be fun.”

Charles looks forward to sharing his story with his grandkids and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.