October 6, 2021
Are you looking for a Christian or spiritual mentor? I found myself in this situation several years ago. My initial thought was to automatically assume the pastor’s wife or the pastor himself would be that for me. However, I realized quickly having the kind of intimate relationship I desired would not be very likely. I found a mentor by outlining a few things of importance. In this post, I will share the qualities as well as the questions you should consider as you select and approach a potential Christian mentor.
The traits and qualities of a good Christian mentor will vary. Types of relationships you desire will vary. You will recognize over time your mentor might change due to season, availability, or proximity. However, the foundations of finding a good Christian mentor will remain. I want to highlight the minimum traits you want to look for in a mentor and pose a few personal questions that can help narrow your search. While I firmly believe you can be mentored from afar, this blog will focus on a personal face-to-face approach.
They are respected.
Notice, I didn’t say “loved”? Not every mentor will be well-liked but they will always be respected. My first spiritual mentor was loved by most but not by all. She was a very direct woman of faith and she told me what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear. People who have walked with Jesus long enough understand that as we become more like him, there will be those who like us less. Don’t go looking for the grouchiest elder in church! Find an individual who has the respect and admiration of others for how they have navigated what life presents.
They are older than you.
I don’t just mean in age. Make sure your spiritual mentor has experienced a longer life than you following Christ AND they have experienced more years. You might be thinking this is obvious. However, I have counseled many young women who inadvertently took advice from someone who lacked experience and found themselves hurt and confused. Age doesn’t ensure someone will not make mistakes but it does give them an advantage in understanding the world and human nature. Find someone who is at least in the next season of life and faith. For example, if you are a young mother with infants or toddlers, look for a woman who is raising teenagers or has grown children. If you want to know how long they have been walking with Jesus ask them how they came to faith. That will give you a very clear idea of how long they have been on the journey.
Their lives are producing fruit.
This is a very “Christian” description but it is important to understand. A good Christian mentor will exhibit the “fruits of the spirit.”
You should see them showing love and being loved by others. They will be joyful and peaceful even in tumultuous times. They will have self-control. No one can exhibit all of these perfectly but you should see many of these fruits in their lives. Specifically, look for someone who appears to possess the trait that you desire to cultivate. I wanted to cultivate peace and I found a mentor who had been a missionary in over 30 countries and demonstrated peace in chaotic of situations.
They don’t tell you what to do, they point you to Jesus.
This is probably the biggest thing to look for in any Christian mentor or mentor of any variety. Good mentors will share their own experiences and give insight into situations but they will ultimately lead you to seek the will and way of Jesus yourself. If they are not encouraging you to pray, read your word, and get revelation on your own I would run in the other direction. Mentors work to disciple others. Consider the disciples of the early church, they preached, encouraged, prayed for, and equipped those coming behind them. Their mentees went on to work and leverage their own gifts and talents to build the Kingdom of God. They did not create robotic clones. The Christian mentors who understand their role produce disciples who go on to create more disciples.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28: 18-20 NIV
Finding a Christian mentor can take time. It can be difficult. However, the Christian mentors I have had throughout my life have helped me grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. The time and effort they poured into me were nothing short of life-giving. If you are in need of a Christian or spiritual mentor the first place to begin is to pray for one to be revealed to you. Second, start looking at your home church. If you don’t know anyone, one of the best ways to get plugged in and meet people is by serving. Begin volunteering and you will quickly meet people in leadership and that will have the qualities of good mentors. Another way to find mentors is by joining a bible study group or life group. These smaller focused groups often cater to a season or a situation that will help you find someone with good insight. Lastly, ask your priest or pastor for recommendations. Even if you don’t have a formal discipleship or mentor program they should be able to direct you to start a relationship with someone in your congregation.
*Disclaimer: Never choose a mentor of the opposite sex…it will set you up for a “different” kind of relationship!
Stayed tuned for another post where I will discuss an alternative to a face-to-face mentor and how we can be mentored from afar. I’d love to hear how you met your mentor? What helped you know they were the right ones? Please drop me a line in the comments below.