“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” — J Loren Norris
In my last article on the Rebelution, I talked about how we don’t have to do hard things on our own. We tend to think that as Rebelutionaries, we have to stand alone, but the wonderful truth is that there are others who will stand alone with us. We can ask for help.
Just yesterday I called a fellow Rebelutionary. I knew I needed a pep talk from my brother-in-arms. And we were able to challenge and encourage each other. But we Rebelutionaries also need a special kind of person to stand with us, someone who isn’t a peer.
I don’t know about you, but as much as I plan and strategize and pursue my goals, I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never done this before, and it has been life changing to invest in relationships with those who have done this before.
Except — I didn’t know how. I remember sitting at the coffee shop with my friend Grace, asking her to mentor me. She said yes, and it felt like a huge answer to prayer. But I didn’t know how to be mentored.
I’m still learning, but today I want to share six ways to be a good mentee in order to 1) get the most out of your mentoring relationship and 2) honor your mentor throughout the process.
1. Respect your mentor’s time
Someone wise once told me, “Google it first.” There are many things that Google can’t teach you, and there is value in asking people even your simple questions. But so often, our time with our mentor is limited, and we need to be wise and intentional about the kinds of questions we ask them and the conversations we prioritize.
We also want to respect our mentor’s schedule and responsibilities. As they invest in us, it is crucial that we honor their limits and boundaries. This means communicating in a timely way. This means being there on time. This might mean driving to meet them, so they don’t have to. We want to be aware, and we want to treat our mentors with the value they deserve.
2. Take your mentor’s advice to heart
Bring a pen! Take notes on what your mentor says or how they handle certain situations. Write it down so you can ponder it later — and then actually ponder it later. If your mentor is someone you’ve identified as a wise person you want to imitate, don’t take lightly the things they say and do.A mentor is someone a few steps ahead of us who has seen the path. Even if we don’t fully understand their advice, warnings, or priorities, we should not brush any of it aside. Click To Tweet
A mentor is someone a few steps ahead of us who has seen the path. Even if we don’t fully understand their advice, warnings, or priorities, we should not brush any of it aside.
3. Don’t blindly obey your mentor
At the same time that we take our mentor’s advice to heart, we don’t need to blindly replicate everything they say or do. A good mentor doesn’t want you to do this. A good mentor wants you to wrestle with the issue and think it through for yourself.
I remember the fear I had the first time I disagreed with a mentor on a serious topic. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I felt my conscience was clear before God even though I knew my mentor didn’t approve. I so badly didn’t even want to tell my mentor that I disagreed with her.
But I did. And she said she still loved me. That it was okay. And I still love and respect her.
4. Don’t rely on one person only
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Mentors are human and therefore limited. A mentor of mine recently had a death in the family and couldn’t be as present in my life. After a while, she texted, “I feel like I’ve abandoned you.”
But I have not felt abandoned! It has been a challenging few weeks for me, but as much as I love and respect that mentor, she isn’t the only voice of wisdom in my life. When she needed to step back, God cared for me through other wise mentors. We are created for community, and God is the only One who does not get tired or need help.
There is value in multiple mentors.
Another reason to have more than one mentor is because different people have different experiences and perspectives. Different people will be able to weigh in on the same issue in different ways and help us think from all angles.
People also have different areas of expertise. I have different people who mentor me in writing, business, ministry, relationships, and leadership.
5. Be (really) honest with your mentor
One of the hardest parts of a mentor relationship for me is that I want my mentors to think well of me. I respect them, and I want them to think I have it all together. Except that the point of a mentor relationship is that I don’t have it all together and need help.
Surely, I’m not the only one.When we try to hide things from our mentors, they can’t give us well-informed advice. It’s hard — and sometimes embarrassing — but if there is ever someone to be painfully honest with, it’s your mentor. Click To Tweet
However, when we try to hide things from our mentors, they can’t give us well-informed advice. They aren’t able to help us dig to the deeper things and wrestle with the actual issues. It’s hard — and sometimes embarrassing — but if there is ever someone to be painfully honest with, it’s your mentor.
I remember the relief I felt when I finally admitted to my mentor a sin struggle happening in one of my friendships. She wasn’t shocked, instead all of a sudden, I wasn’t facing things alone. I had someone who shared grace and strategy with love. It was — still is — incredible.
6. Pray for and support your mentor
Relationships are not transactional. But as mentees, we want to honor our mentors for the time and energy they invest in us. We want to be good brothers and sisters to them, and one way we can do this is to pray for them and support them in their own lives.
Maybe we’re not the person to be giving them advice, but we can turn to the Wonderful Counselor on their behalf. Maybe we’re not the right person to be their sounding board, but perhaps we can bless them with free babysitting. All it takes is creativity and intentionality.
Mentor-mentee relationships are so incredibly powerful and wonderful. If you are blessed with a mentor — or three — take some time today to consider how you can engage well in that relationship for God’s glory.