How to Choose a Mentor?
This May be the single most important proactive thinking you could do to impact who you choose as a mentor.
Look at the Fruit in a Person Life before you choose them to be your Mentor.
I have personally, always chosen mentors who were AT LEAST a season ahead of me. An example of a season ahead you might be, while your oldest child is seven, an older Sister in the Lord may have a seventeen year old. Or maybe, while you are pregnant with your second she is pregnant with her fifth. My point is that finding someone just slightly ahead of you in life can be VERY profitable for you both. It brings purpose to the mother in the midst of chaos to be able to serve and help a younger sister out and gives her perspective for where she has come from and how much she has grown, while you get the benefit of getting a bird’s eye view into life just a decade ahead of you. She will most likely remember more vividly “where” you are coming from as well as those days of potty training and teething in the night are not too far in the distance that her stories begin detriorating.
While I do believe you can learn from your friends, and even those younger than you, scripturally, the Lord has purposefully laid out his design for us to have productive wise teaching through older women.
However, just because they are older doesn’t make them qualified!
The reality is that even some older women are new believers and therefore, do not neccesarily have the spiritual maturity needed to lead a more mature believer who is younger, spiritually. In fact, you may find that in these scenarios if her life decisions when her kids were younger were made while she was not a strong Christ-follower, then you might not be able to get sound doctrine or biblical advice. I am not saying that is always the case, you will need to judge for yourself though. Some women who lived without God for the first part of their lives and later got saved have such a humble heart that they can openly share what mistakes they made and clearly divide the Word of God using those poor life decisions as examples of what NOT to do.
Everyone has fruit, good or bad. Be wise! Don’t take advice, counsel, mentoring, or coaching from someone who doesn’t have good fruit or if you can’t see the fruit in their life.
Choosing a Business Mentor (or even Coach):
If you are going to look for a business mentor, you must judge the fruit in their life as well.
Have they ever run their own business?
Have they ever “shipped” a product? Successfully? If so, then they are worth listening to. Otherwise, they could just be a lot of talk and no action. People can learn the lingo to anything these days.
Read ten good business books and you can get the lingo down, but have you DONE it? So when looking for a business mentor or coach to get purposeful with, choose someone you know personally has integrity, has a history of integrity, look at the fruit in their business life. What do people say about them? What have they been saying about them for years. What is their track record, reputation?
Choosing a Mentor in Wifehood & Motherhood:
You again, need to look at the fruit in their lives. For example, I am a wife. If I am looking for a mentor in Marriage, I am going to choose a mentor who’s marriage I respect. If the woman doesn’t seem to respect her husband biblically, or if there seems to be anything obviously off or that I wouldn’t want to imitate, then they are a wrong choice.
This method requires getting to know people. Really, truly knowing them. But seriously, if you are going to be going to them for counsel and advice, you kind of need to know it is going to be biblical and sound.
Don’t take advice from someone who has only been married a couple of years. Most divorces happen between 5-9 years of marriage. The longer a person has been married and not just married but really seems to enjoy their marriage, the better. A standard I personally hold on this level is finding a mentor who can encourage me to be the best helper I can to a husband who is an entrepreneur, since I am married to one. Another standard I have is that they both (husband/wife) seem to approach marriage from a team philosophy, but they do not neglect their Biblical roles, they are thriving, not just surviving marriage. I want a great marriage, not a mediocre one.
As a mother, I look for women who have children a whole season ahead of me. I look at their children. If I think to myself, “wow… I really like her children. I hope my kids turn out like that,” then I believe she has earned the right to be heard. Just as the Bible says we need to be wise who we choose as friends, we also need to be wise who we choose as mentors.
Here are a few questions I ask:
- Do they have strong relationships with their kids?
- Are their kids following the Lord purposefully?
I look for traits I desire in my own children, such as a servant heart towards all people, missions, God’s work on earth. Who are more concerned with God’s plan for their lives than what the next trend is.
If you are a young mom, find a mom who has gone through the young years successfully. Not just survived through them, but thrived through them.
While there are some cases where young women have wisdom beyond their years, usually because they themselves have been mentored by their mother or other older women, I have always chosen not to take advice from people who have not experienced it themselves successfully.
For example, I would never take parenting advice from someone who only had one or two children who were still very young or someone who never has had children, regardless of education. You can not see the end product of their parenting philosophy. Besides all parenting techniques are easy to talk about, but doing it is another thing. While so many people hold firm to their “philosophies,” the justice, practical side of me wants to see the “proof in the pudding.”
My opinion is that it would be foolish to pursue someone as a mentor if they are going to give you unbiblical or unwise advice. In addition to choosing people to glean “wisdom” from, you need to seek God’s wisdom above all else. You need to have His standard for what “Good Fruit” is and looks like. If you go with our cultures standards, you may be receiving poor advice/counsel. If you have children almost hitting their teen years, find older women who’s children have gone through it successfully and joyfully. If you have children about to marry, find women who have already got grandchildren on the way and so on.
I have personally benefitted most, spiritually from the older generations (60’s and up), but I have found more practical advice and wisdom from women who are just a few years ahead (10-15yrs) of me in parenting… they tend to remember more because they were just in it. However, there is still so much wisdom to be found in those older generations on parenting, a lot of what they grew up with was much more biblical than what is modeled regularly in today’s culture. Since there were no tv’s when they were kids, their parents engaged their children through work, which is something Isaac and I try to do as often as possible. My point is that, there is much to be gleaned from any generation. Don’t be closed-minded! 🙂
Warning: Use wisdom in choosing mentors by looking at the fruit in their life. Is she a Wife, Mother, and Woman of God, a Father, a Business Man I want to be like when I grow up?
Are they following Christ? Be in the word, have a good understanding of what God’s idea of a biblical man/woman, husband/wife, and mother/father is to look like, so you can exercise wisdom. You can’t choose wisely if you have no wisdom, and God is the one who bestows it.
If you would like to view all of the posts in this series on Choosing a Mentor Wisely go to: Mentoring