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.

Kismet: A Biblical Perspective on Soul-Mates

When I was a teenager, I had a crush on this boy named M. Linger. He was just a few years older than me. He was handsome and genuinely kind to everyone. He had medium brown locks that flipped casually around his dreamy brown eyes. Everything about him seemed effortless and cool…from the casual way he invited people to church to the 1967 Mustang he had fully restored. He had a magnetic personality that just attracted people to him. I wanted to be his friend. I dreamed of being his girlfriend. But I couldn’t say two words to him.

I happened to come to church early one day and run into him. For a moment, it was just the two of us alone in the hallway. A thousand thoughts ran through my head: this is your one chance! Say something! Maybe he will see how great you are and fall madly in love with you.

What brilliant, dazzling wit did I say, you ask? I looked up at him and heard my voice squeak, “I just ate, and my food is still digesting.”

Your food is still digesting? Really, Rebecca? That was the best you could do? Great, you’ve just ruined it for us, thanks!…

I don’t even know where that response came from, but I was mortified. As M. Linger just smiled at me politely and moved on, the internal monologue continued to degrade me for my mistake. It was one of the first times I ever tried to really talk to a boy I liked, and it would be the last time I ever let one intimidate me that much. Needless to say, nothing happened with M. Linger. He moved away, never to be seen or heard from again, but I still swoon when I see a finely crafted Mustang like his.

1967 mustang

Somewhere in my childhood I got it in my head that everyone has this one special person that they are supposed to meet and fall in love with and live happily ever after.

I considered it my mission in life to find my person.

I looked for him in every eligible guy I met and filled countless journals with my hopes and dreams about him. Sometimes I had little “signs” that this person or that person was “the one”. Other times I felt a “connection” with someone. Many times I thought I heard from God on the subject. I just knew that this person was meant to be for me; we were kismet.

It is amazing what foolish lies our hearts can tell us.

I am embarrassed by how much time and effort I put into blindly pursuing love only to see my own heart broken, time and again, and my sense of self-worth stomped pancake thin.

In the early 90s, there was a movie called Only You that really could have been me. A young girl dabbles in fortunes and magic to find the name of the man she will marry and, years later, she gets a call from him when she is about to get married to someone else. She chases after him all the way to Italy where she meets another guy who is not him but perfect for her in every way. She is challenged to choose between her foolish notions about destiny or the truth about love.

I’ve never dabbled in magic, but I too reached a point where I had to choose between foolish notions about destiny or the truth about love.

Destiny: The Lie

Control your own destiny or someone else will. –Jack Welch

I used to believe I had to get everything right and have my life just so for love to come to me. Then I believed that if love was ever going to come to me, I had to go out and find it. I treated everything I had like some sort of prize you get into a bull pit and fight for; give life your best shot and if it doesn’t stomp you to death, you might just have something.

For destiny to work, we have to believe that the majority of what happens to us is predetermined and beyond our control or influence. We also have to believe we have one specific mate for our full lifetime. We have to trust that we can find that person–despite all odds–and keep them. There is no room in this purview for errors in judgment. If I love the wrong guy, I keep us both from our true mate. We would be constantly screwing up relationships; no one could ever, ever, be happy.

The Truth about Love

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” –Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Love is full of emotion and passion, but there are no magic signs or kismet wonders that will turn those feelings into commitment. Real love takes more than passion and emotion: it takes commitment.

Instead of one person you are supposed to be with, a Godly relationship would be one that encourages you to be with someone that has a certain set of qualities. (Qualities based on Biblical principles of right and wrong NOT a Hallmark checklist.) The person you are with should be someone that brings out the best in you and someone who reminds you, more and more, of Jesus.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them.” –1 John 4:16

Relationships take a lot of give and take; nobody is perfect. You grow together as you live out life together. You honor each other with purity standards before marriage and you maintain that commitment in marriage by only truly sharing intimacy with your spouse.

When it comes down to it, love is really about commitment.

I may not be much of an authority on love because I have never been married, and I recently ended a five-year relationship. We were building our lives together and talking about marriage, but something was always missing. We had all the emotion and passion of romance, but it fizzled out when it came to honor and commitment. If honor and commitment were weak while we were dating, why would they be any stronger if I married him?

Wisdom from Grandmama

Some of the best advice I’ve ever had to open my eyes, came from my grandmama. She said: When you are dating, you see the person’s present and past as an example of the person they will be in their future. Imagine everything you see now (while you are dating) is a hundred times worse when you marry them. Could you live with that person? Would you love that person, now and always, if they never changed?

That’s the kind of things we should be asking ourselves when we start talking about long-range plans with someone.

What It Means To Be A Teacher: Wisdom from a Mentor, Dr. Gerald Parker

He comes in early in the morning to share a cup of coffee and meet new people. He is always smiling; the wrinkles behind his white whiskers leave a trail upwards. He is enthusiastic and kind; he loves to sit and just listen to people, but he usually has a word of advice to give them too. No one would know he ever struggled with education and reading; he went on to get a doctorate degree. He doesn’t claim to be of special importance, but he founded the first ABSPD Institute. Though he is retired, he comes out of retirement every summer to share with other younger instructors at Institute. He is a treasure of wisdom and experience. He is a man who had every excuse to be disgruntled in life but remains optimistic. He’s an inspiration. That’s who Dr. Gerald Parker is. Here’s what he said about teachers.

Who are WE? What are WE doing here? Where are we going?

In Soviet times, an old Rabbi was approached by a young man from the local militia. “Who are you? What are you doing here? Where are you going?”

The Rabbi responded, “How much do they pay you to ask those questions?”

“Two rubies a day,” was his proud reply.

“Each time you see me, I’ll pay you two rubies if you’ll keep asking me those questions.”

So–Who are WE? What are WE doing here? Where are we going?

We are gifts…

To the one who fears rejection — we show acceptance.

To the one who fears inadequacy — we guide step by step as their fears melt away.

To the one who feels disconnected — we build community.

To the one who feels lonely — we listen.

To the one who has experience failure — day by day, we celebrate success.

To the powerless — we give a pen and a voice.

To those who feel defective — we celebrate their uniqueness.

To those who feel worthless — they see reflected in our eyes — they are priceless.

To those who feel abandoned — we help reclaim as treasures.

Who are we? We are adult educators!

What are we doing here? We are making a difference that really matters!!

Who are we — roots on a tree, quiet and mostly unseen, giving life and nurture.

Who are we — air under the wings of a bird — lifting those who were caged to new heights.

Who are we — gifts — precious gifts of hope, fostering transformation of lives who will never be the same.

Who are we — bridges to expanding opportunities.

Who are we — high touch in a high-tech world.

Who are we — God’s instruments — giving “wings to caterpillars”

Who are we –blessed–far beyond what we deserve.

Where are we going? Intentionally pursuing what MATTERS!! Helping ourselves and others become more than we ever dreamed we could become!

More Wisdom from Dr. Parker

What if you could buy someone for what they think they are worth and resell them for what they are really worth? –Dr. Gerald Parker

Your fruit grows on other peoples’ trees. –Dr. Gerald Parker

The most effective professional development for me was becoming good friends with my students and finding out what worked for them, what didn’t, and how I could have done it better. –Dr. Gerald Parker

I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t teach me something. Ask people: “What are you really good at? How did you learn to do that?” –Dr. Gerald Parker

The best tutor I have ever had is the one that married me. –Dr. Gerald Parker

One person with passion can accomplish more than many with a mere interest in something. –Dr. Gerald Parker