Five Ways to Find a Mentor

This is a guest post by Daniel Darling. He is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of iFaith, Connecting with God in the 21st Century. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

The value of a mentor cannot be overestimated. A mentor is someone who is a few laps ahead of you in an area of life where you wish to find success. More than formal training, more than a book or a seminar, a good mentor brings his or her personal experience to bear on your life in a way that may shape it forever.

A Mentor Talking to His Mentee - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit, Image #9854027

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit

But how to find one? It’s actually easier than you think. Here are five ways to find a mentor:

  1. Don’t Start with Seth Godin or Max Lucado. Yes, we’d all love to have someone at the top of our profession mentor us. But not only is this unrealistic, it’s also unhelpful. Chances are that the advice of someone at the very top would be intimidating or unhelpful to you at your current pace of life. Instead, look for someone a few levels ahead of you in your chosen field. Someone accessible to you. There is a pastor in my community whose church is medium-sized, but not mega. Since I pastor a small church, he’s perfect for me and has the time.
  2. Attend trade functions or gatherings in your community. As a pastor, I regularly attend pastor’s gatherings in our area. I’ve also done this in the Christian publishing field. Simply attending and meeting new people has led to many rich mentoring relationships. If you stay inside your office your entire life, you’ll never experience the opportunity to be enriched by the wisdom of others.
  3. Make friendships through simple conversation. You don’t find a mentor by asking someone, “Can you be my mentor?” That’s a bit awkward and may seem to put a heavy burden on someone who doesn’t know you very well. Instead, meet people, develop relationships through conversation and let natural human interaction be your guide.
  4. Follow up with a request to meet again, one-on-one. If you’ve gotten to know someone you think you can learn from, get his contact information and ask him something like, “Hey, I’d love to sit for coffee and pick your brain on _______.” This is the intentional part of finding a mentor. I’ve done this a number of times both with pastors and with writers and have found them eager to share what they know about their chosen field.
  5. Ask questions. When you do meet for coffee, pepper the mentor with questions and then sit back and listen. Ask him questions like, “How did you get into this field?” “What have you learned over the years?” “What do you think of this idea?” Don’t try to wow him with all you’ve done. You’re there to learn from his success.

Mentoring relationships are valuable . . . and they aren’t complicated. They are simply friendships which have the potential to help shape your future.

Oh, and a bonus tip: pick up the tab. The wisdom you gain is well worth the price of a latte.

Question: What have you done to find a mentor? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Daniel. One of the best places to find a mentor is your local Toastmaster’s Club. I’ve met so many helpful people over the years through my club from all different backgrounds and professions. The great thing is, most people who attend Toastmasters meeting are interested in personal development so it is easy to develop a professional relationship. 

    • http://www.whatisleadership.tv/ Kenneth Acha

      Nice to know.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Hi Ken! I took a look at your website. Great content. Toastmasters has over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. I did a search and found that there are 76 TM clubs in Austin. WOW! You have a lot of potential mentors near you! You can use the club search feature at 
        http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/ to find one that fits your needs.

        • http://leadershipandproductivity.com/ Kenneth Acha

          Thanks John! I will check them out.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        I took a look at your website as well and found your story fascinating. I also saw a number of common threads. Two of my brothers live near Austin. The third is a doctor (he never graduated college but went on to med school) who works in aerospace medicine at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Glad to read about your life and work.

    • http://www.strategic-concepts.us/ Eric Langley

      +1 
      Toastmasters is the ultimate environment for people helping people reach their goals. Our club, North Metro Toastmasters, assigns a mentor to every new member. This way the mentoring model is built-in from day one. 

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Sounds like a great club, Eric. Our club does that too. We try to find a mentor with similar goals or backgrounds. It’s a great way to get people plugged in and very helpful for new members who may be fearful of public speaking.

        • Guest

          Lol, I don’t know if anyone here is familiar with the ’90s Nickelodeon cartoon Ren & Stimpy :-) (it’s on YouTube now). All I can picture is the character Powdered Toast Man delivering a TED Talk on nutrition. Look it up and you’ll LOL like I did. XD

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Great to know!

    • Guest

      Toastmasters is the public speaking club, right? :-O

      I wish it had something to do with making toast rather than giving toasts. One of the other reasons I quit high school besides bullying is that delivering a school-wide presentation was a requirement for graduation. When it comes to public speaking, I’m always, well… toast.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    This is a good question, and the post challenges me on two levels.  First, I know I’ve had mentors in the past, but I can’t say that I have one now.  So this post inspires me to pursue this type of relationship again.

    Second, your post didn’t mention anything about being a mentor (I’d love to hear your follow-up), but I’m challenged to be more open and available to mentoring others.  It’s so easy to focus on what “I” need to accomplish and what “I” want to do.  “I” need to be more intentional in passing down my knowledge and experience through a mentoring relationship.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      I like your approach, Jon.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Chris.

    • http://www.whatisleadership.tv/ Kenneth Acha

      I agree with your idea of mentoring someone while you wait. In fact, I teach people to always do mentoring in three stages. Upward, sideways, and downward. This three stage approach is crucial for growth and personal discipleship. You have someone who mentors you, who is above you in that particular area. If you read my comment below, I don’t recommend one size fits all mentors that work for everything. Then you have someone at the same level as you where you spend time and are buddies where iron sharpens iron. If you are in business, you need someone at your level who is going through the same struggles as you. This works well for students. When I was in medical school, I was privileged to have great physicians who were mentors that I looked up to and got advise from. But my classmates, my buddies at the same level as I was were crucial. We stayed late at night together and I learned from them more than I learned form my mentors above. Then you need to find someone below you in to mentor. In explaining things to people below you you solidify your thinking. I actually am of the opinion than our thoughts are not complete until we speak them. Someone has said that our thoughts are unraveled when they pass through our mouths or our pens. I agree with that. So my advice, enter into three level mentoring. Start with downward and start sharing what you know while you wait for someone higher than you to come along. The decision of finding someone downward lies in your hands for the most part. So take advantage of that. Then find friends at the same level with you. The third one will be someone above you. That way, as you receive, you are passing out immediately. You can even be sharing with your friends and those you mentor some of the germs that you are getting from your mentor.

      • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

        Kenneth, I like this. Someone once told me that you need three people in your life: a Timothy, a Barnabas, and a Paul. You should always have a Timothy you are mentoring, a Paul who is mentoring you, and a good friend in Barnabas who is encouraging you. 

        • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

          Yes, I’ve heard it explained this way as well.  I definitely have the sideways going – very intentionally right now.  But I need to make sure I have the upwards and downwards in place – with intention!

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          I have heard this as well. It takes me a while to get situated in a new place. I am still searching for a Barnabas and Paul.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Sometimes it can take a while…..

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            I think the key is to be intentional about seeking it out.  It’s so easy to go with the flow expecting these types of relationships to just happen.  I don’t believe it happens that way (at least most of the time).

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Going with the flow usually results in flowing the wrong direction. 

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Many times, I’m sure this is true.  I think there is a balance though.  There are times when I need to give up my control and trust that God can handle things.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Very true.  I see “going with the flow” and “giving God control” as two different things though.  In my experience, going with the flow has resulting in my drifting away from God’s will for my life.  Giving him control has been an intentional letting go and giving him the opportunity to do something without me “helping” and just messing things up. 

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Well said!

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Thanks! 

            I’ve always wondered what it would look like when the replies pushed the comments over so far to the left…

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Now you know!

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          I have not heard the “three people in your life” analogy before. Obviously I don’t run in the right circles. ;-)

          But I do like what Kenneth has to say and your adding an analogy that’s memorable. Thanks.

        • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

          That’s cool! I like the way you put it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have written a couple of posts here on being a mentor. You can search for the term on my blog. Thanks.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        I’ll do that.  Thanks for the heads up.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I agree with the need to pass it on.  I see a great mentorship example in the New Testament.  Paul mentored Timothy.  So I continually ask myself, “Who is my Paul (mentor)?”  And “Who is my Timothy (I am mentoring)?” I feel both are crucial.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        I agree.  As a growing Christ follower, we need to have both of these relationships in our lives.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Definitely!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      You bring up a good point, Jon. I’m in small town Wisconsin and the word “mentor” isn’t bandied about at the coffee shop here. How does one serve others in a mentoring capacity? What would be the natural connections where that possibility might enter into the discussion? I think an older term used would be disciple making. And as a Christian, I’m called to follow Jesus Christ and lead others into a relationship with Him.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Tom, I was just in Wisconsin on Wednesday night to meet up with my brother at The Brat Stop in Kenosha.

        Disciple making – yes!  Mentoring and discipling are quite analogous.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          That’s still a ways but a whole lot closer than Pennsylvania.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Your comments are inspiring, Jon. I love how you’re being intentional about giving as well as receiving.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Michele.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    The Mentor would make a great title for a Hollywood action movie.  (“They turned to him for guidance. He turned them into his henchmen.”)

    • Anonymous

      Love it!!!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Sounds great. I’ll start working on the screenplay.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    I think picking up the tab (especially if you only meet once or twice per year) is crucial. If I meet every month with him, I usually don’t do that (maybe I do it every now and then).

    When you ask, it helps to be specific, if at all possible. Such as, “I have a son, and I respect how you’ve raised yours. Can you share with me some principles that have guided you?” Or, “I’m about to enter into this project or business. I know that you’ve been down this road. What pitfalls do I need to be cautious about?”

    Also, I try to make sure they know it’s not a life-long commitment. (It could be, but I don’t want to overwhelm them.) I ask for one or two meetings, or for once-per-month for the next year. When I’ve mentored others, I don’t want the mentoree to think that I’ve committed for years.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I would probably have never thought about picking up the tab. Not that I am cheap, it just would not have crossed my mind. I’m glad it was mentioned in this post!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Brandon, I think you and I are only a couple of hours away from one
        another.  Maybe we should go grab a latte sometime.  I’ll let you pick up the tab… :)

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Hahaha. If you read yesterday’s post, Brandon, you might want to take a minute to classify this task. I’m thinking “D” … :)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Shhhh!

  • http://www.whatisleadership.tv/ Kenneth Acha

    Daniel, thanks for this great post. I can use a mentor in a few areas of my life right now. You’ve helped to remind me of how easy it is to find one. A mistake that I have made in the past which I find people make all the time is to try to find a mentor that mentors you for everything. You’d have to walk with  Jesus Christ for that. But you can find different mentors in different areas that you are involved in. It’s hard to find even among pastors people with exactly the same path and interests, which underscores using different mentors. I’m a physician by training and I like to see mentoring through the eyes of specialties in medicine. You can have a general practitioner but you don’t expect him to do everything for you. You’d need to get the advice of a surgeon or an ophthalmologist or neurologist or someone else like that if you have issues with your body where they are experts in.

    I’ve also learned that one of the best things to do when you wait for God to open doors of mentoring for you is to mentor someone else. Mentoring another person really helps refine you greatly. In medicine, there is a common saying that “You See one, do one, and teach one”. In the “see one”, a medical student or young physician observes an expert do something. They are mentored. In the “do one”, they perform a procedure under the supervision of a more mature physician. In these two stages, the young physician is mentored by someone else. But the mentoring is not complete until they go out and teach someone else to do it. In fact, I believe that our learning is completed when we teach others. I can’t count how many times I understand something better when someone else brings their own issues and I have to explain to them and sometimes in pointing them the way, I myself am reminded of what I need. So mentoring someone yourself is crucial while you wait.

  • http://www.scotlongyear.com/ Scot Longyear

    Thanks for the thoughts Daniel.  You are right, mentoring relationships should be simple.  In the past I looked for the one mentor who would menor me in every area of life.  He didn’t exist.  Instead I have a handful of mentors who specialize in different areas.  It has been extremely beneficial.  Thanks again!

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Scott, that’s the ticket. For me, I’ve tried to find mentors in specific areas. For instance, when I became a pastor, I had to find pastors a bit farther afield than me and I intentionally asked if I could pick their brains on ministry. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      This is something that I have come to learn. I have been seeking just one person who was my “perfect example.” I am beginning to understand that probably won’t happen.

    • Jim Martin

      Scot, I also came to a similar conclusion.  I do not have one person in my life who I would describe at THE mentor in my life.  There have been several at different points in my life.  I am grateful what what each person contributed.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Based on my interactions with you, Scot, I can testify this is absolutely true! You’re a learner who asks questions of multiple people in your life. And I learned much from your openness and teachability.

  • http://www.strategic-concepts.us/ Eric Langley

    Daniel, 

    Thank you for taking the time to write your post and help the community. 

    +1 for point 2 – attend trade shows and gatherings. These are very valuable and for me, being involved in a start-up company, yield excellent possibilities.  Meeting someone in person make subsequent telephone/email conversations easier.

    I have also found high quality mentors and advisors on Twitter and Linkedin. Both of these communities allow me to see the person’s values (by what they tweet) and their experience (Linkedin profile). 

    Once I identify someone I simply reach out with a tweet or Linkedin message and we connect. 

    Sometimes the right person is far from me, in these cases technology bridges the gap.

    Best,

    Eric Langley

    http://www.abeo.us 
    (start-up)

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Interesting point about “social media” mentors. We don’t often think of these “online personalities” as legitimate sources of inspiration and guidance. Of course, just like in real life, it takes time to develop those two-way dialogues that can really make an impact in your life. Connecting with folks through social media is a great way to get that mentor-mentee relationship started.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    Helpful ideas. Sometimes we look  in the wrong places. Real people doing real things that you can develop a real relationship with goes a long ways. Look for those opportunities.

  • A Student

    Thanks for your advise. I shy away from people who are more advanced than I am, because I’m afraid to appear stupid. But you make it sound so simple and logical, you convinced me to at least try.  

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m glad you’re going to try. Asking for guidance can make me feel vulnerable and exposed, but not as vulnerable as I am without the wisdom I glean from the mentor. Go for it!

  • Michael Mulligan

    Thank you, Daniel.  I would like to add one point.  Once you find someone willing to mentor you, make sure you share those words of advice with others so the benefits of mentoring can be multiplied in the community.  Pastors are great role models.  I’m new to the writing world and thankful an associate pastor from another church in my community took the time to share his thirty plus years of writing experience with me in his home twice a month.  Thanks for sharing your advice on Michael’s blog.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Michael that’s a great point. I think we should always be in two places: a position to be mentored and a position to mentor. Being filled, we should fill others. 

      • Jim Martin

        Daniel, this is a great point you made in this comment.  I continue to look to people who are a few years older than me.  (I just met with one guy the day before yesterday).  However, I am also at a place where I am intentional about coming alongside a few others who are younger than me.

  • http://twitter.com/burlw Burl Walker

    The bonus tip was the best! Picking up the tab for the latte might even get you in with guys like Seth Godin. (He has taken time to answer my questions before.) As a blogger, on thing I have done is look up how people’s blogs rank on Alexa .com and when I find someone who is somewhere between where I am and where I would like to be, I study what they are doing that is helping them be successful. Most people are more than willing to share when you ask them questions about what their passion is. Thanks for the great guest post Pastor Darling! I am sure your “small church” will continue growing if you show the same passion in leadership for the Lord in your sermons and interaction with your community that you show here in this post.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Burl, thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad you liked the post. And yes, picking up the tab is only reasonable, considering you’re taking someone’s time. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I liked the bonus tip best too! A simple way to remember “it’s not all about me” and add value to the other person. A handwritten thank you note wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    A while back, I posted a comment to Michael’s post “Five Ways to Energize Your Team”, analyzing why a particular college English professor had made such a profound impact on me during a seminar she’d recently presented. 

    Michael encouraged me to turn it into my own blog post, which I did; I posted a link to her Facebook page. She responded, and an informal professional dialogue began. When I visited her college, I e-mailed this professor to see if she might be available for coffee; she was. I peppered her with questions and took copious notes. I was also able to share useful information about the current plays at Ashland, as I’d recently been and she was leading a study tour a few weeks later.

    Fall quarter, my daughter took a course from this same professor. I’ve learned a great deal from Annemarie’s descriptions of how she leads discussion, conferences with students on their writing, and scores their final papers. 

    A few weeks ago, I hesitantly e-mailed her to see if she’d be interested in developing a convention session proposal; to my delight, she was more than enthusiastic. The proposal development process was exhilarating, regardless of the outcome (which we won’t know for a few months.)

    All of this was triggered by Michael’s question:  “Think back to a great meeting where you left feeling empowered. What happened to make you feel that way? What happened to your performance?”  I wouldn’t have made it to Step 3 without the blog as a conversation-starter.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is a great example of how to initially build that relationship!

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    1. Toastmasters: Anybody involved in one in the Atlanta area? I know I could try to visit a bunch and find one, but a recommendation would save a little time!
    2. Leading with ‘can we have coffee so I can pick your brain’ I know can be code for ‘let me have your valuable time for free’ (at least that’s what this blog and others have told me). I like that ’4′ is couched in the context of relationship.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Brett, you’re right that people may assume the coffee request is code. This is why I encourage folks to ask someone a few rungs up the ladder–likely they will have time for you. Also, I’ve found that people are a few levels up (as opposed to the very top) have the most useful advice for me at my present level. 

      • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

        True. The relationship you describe in your post also comes around organically, not a random email/phone call to a guru… It shows commitment to get involved with others in a particular industry or interest and that probably means a lot to a potential mentor: that the mentee doesn’t want a couple quick hacks, but is interested in participation.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Very good advice.  I think we have a natural tendency to want the CEO of the company to mentor us, when it would be better for someone else to pull us up a few levels.  Then find someone else on up.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Larry, I’ve found this to be the key. Talking to a mega-church pastor or CEO doesn’t often help me. I get intimidated. I can’t implement everything. But seeing someone a bit farther down the road from me, in a place I want to go, has worked well in my maturation process. 

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Thanks for your post Daniel. I love the way you described the process. I think people can be overwhelmed by the question, “Will you be my mentor?”  It doesn’t explain what the process looks like, and often we don’t feel worthy to be mentors. But by following your examples you get the benefits of mentoring without the burden.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Kelly, 

      Thanks for the kind words. Mentoring seems like such big deal, but really it’s pretty simple. It’s about building a relationship where you can download wisdom. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      My roles as mentor or mentee have all been natural progressions. Each time, there has been a certain chemistry and an unspoken “We’re in this together.”

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Is that a strength or weakness?

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          I think it is a strength. The relationship is “stickier” because it isn’t based on a formality, it is based on mutual trust. However, I’m sure that more formal proceedings work for people as well.

  • Jeff Gouldie

    From watching successful people and others, I have found that the most successful way is to find someone to help.  Leaders who are of the best value are often too busy to give me all the free time that I would like, but if there are ways to team on whatever level possible to assist them with their goals.

    Serving the best will give you opportunities to be the best.  The hardest part is that it takes longer than I would like and often more humility than I am comfortable with. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      You make a good suggestion. Serving alongside someone, volunteering your time, would be a great way to learn from a mentor/leader.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    Thanks for the practical advice. I have actually been in the beginning stages of this. I have been intentionally putting myself places with guys who are further down the road than I am. It has been really cool getting to know them. I suppose the next step is the asking to pick their brain part. 

    • Jim Martin

      Good for you Brandon!  For many years, this is exactly what I did.  Quite often good insight, information, and perspective will come from these conversations that can make a significant difference in your life and work.

  • John Long

    Great article, and this will help me a lot. Finding a mentor (s) has been a real challenge and this advice will surely help, and came at the perfect time.

    While I fully agree with the advice to look one or two rungs up the “ladder”, I do have to object to the idea that pastors are measured by church size. I’m sure your actual position is more nuanced, simplified for the article, but still… The idea that the pastor of a large church is automatically “higher up” than a faithful, Godly servant at a small church is surely not a good one to propagate.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      John, good point. I didn’t intend to judge churches or pastors strictly by size. I just used that as one measuring stick. But in any field, you might try to find a mentor who is a few paces down field. One problem we often have is that we think if we can’t get the top guy in our field, we give up. Instead the guy in town who has been doing what we’ve been doing a bit longer may be a better mentor in the long run. 

  • Pingback: Cinco de Viernes: Working, Mentoring, Jesus-ing | Teh Lemonsmith

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great input!  I’ve started focusing on building those types of relationships in our community. We are pretty new in town, only a couple of years.  So it’s difficult to start from scratch.  But I’m gaining some ground now.  Thanks!

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Jeff, 

      I’m still learning this. Relationships are key in life. Some of my most fruitful decisions have come after I’ve sat and talked and asked questions of someone with more wisdom than I have. 

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I tend towards being somewhat of an introvert.  That makes it harder for me.  I’m not antisocial, I just prefer to be with a couple of great friends instead of in a crowd.  This means that I have to be extremely intentional in finding those people to develop relationships with.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s great Jeff. Starting off in a new place can be difficult.

      Care to throw out any of the steps you’ve taken to grow these relationships?

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Identifying people who might fill that role is a starting place.  Then I have to start building the relationship.  I don’t really have a step by step process, just plunge in. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Moving is tough. In the first 26 years of my life I lived in 6 different states. Building relationships from scratch was the most difficult part of each move. I know there are many others who’d like to know the answer to Joe’s question as well: What steps would you recommend for those trying to build new relationships in a new place?

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I don’t really kinow how to do this well.  Persistence is a key part of it, for sure.  We’ve been where we are for almost three years now, and I don’t have the relationships built into my life like I want yet.

        I do know that you can’t just go up to someone and say “I’d like to develop an accountability relationship, or a mentoring relationship.  You need my help”  Or, “I need your help.”  That tends to scare people away.

        In my last ministry, it was breakfast together with three guys every Tuesday morning.  Great relationship building time, and great biscuits and gravy!

        I don’t know, mayybe what I’m trying to say is that each time it has been different for me to do this.  Not much help, am I?

  • Pingback: Five Ways To Find A Mentor « aclairmont

  • Anonymous

    This is very helpful as I’m looking for a mentor.  Since leadership is one of my gifts, it is challenging to find a woman in church leadership (fortunately my new church is a UMC).  I thought God would plop someone in my lap, but your article confirms the need to be intentional (and prayerful) as I find my mentor.  Thank you for writing this!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Keep your eyes open Amy, you will find someone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaroncz Aaron Chavez

    I loved the post… I know and understand the importance of a mentor. This post makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    Great outline of the process Daniel.  I would like to add the following.
    Be careful who you refer to as your “Mentor” unless that role has been verbally accepted by the person.  People may be willing and open to a cup of coffee and giving counsel, but not wanting to be called a “Mentor”. 
    Also remember, when you do have a Mentor relationship that is known, your behavior (good or bad), business ethics and reputation is related to your Mentor as much as you. 
    So do the Mentor right, and live up to the impartation you are receiving.  That way you can then be a ‘mentoring’ force to those watching the process.

  • KDL

    Question: What’s the thought on whether men should mentor only men and women should mentor only women?

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      That’s a good question. As a general rule, I suppose it is a fine one, but I think it is a personal matter. It isn’t inherently “evil” for women to mentor men or vice versa. The relationship needs to be transparent and professional.

  • k. s.

    This was an excellent post.  I would like to add that a mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be someone older either.  It can be someone younger who maybe got the breaks, skills, schooling,/training or quallity mentoring before you.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You’re right K.S. It is about finding someone who is a step or two ahead of you.

  • http://www.journeytowardsmaturity.com/ Danielle Street

    Daniel, thank you for the excellent advice on how to find a mentor.  I have been mentoring people at my church and through my blog.  I have found the people who diligently seek the Lord in the process are always connected to strong believers who know how to help them.   Thank you for reminding me that mentoring relationships are valuable.  It motivates me to continue to be filled with the Spirit and allow God to lead me in each of my friendships that are developing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Harms/602268732 Katherine Harms

    I am still looking for the right mentor in the path ahead of me. I really need Michael Hyatt, because I want to get my book published. In the meantime, I have three friends I call my circle of encouragement. Each has strength and wisdom in some area where I am weak. It really helps. I got some good ideas from these comments for my ongoing quest to find a good mentor in the world of published authors.

    • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

      Katherine, 

      I would simply start building relationships with people in the field you are pursuing. You might start by attending a conference or finding a writer’s group in your area and finding someone you “click” with and picking their brain a bit. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Katherine, there are several writing organizations that can help pair you with mentors or critique partners. Start with American Christian Fiction Writers (www.acfw.com, if your book is a novel) and/or Christian Writers Guild (www.christianwritersguild.com). You can also look for writers groups and critique groups via the Sally Stuart Market Guide or the local library. Hope this helps!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    In a way, reading great blogs like this is kinda like having a mentor. I have some mentors in our church

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      How have you seen your life change because of the mentors in your church?

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        More than anything they have taught me put the Lord first, trust in His wisdom and grace

  • Todd Wagner

    Whenever someone wants to spend time with me, I almost ALWAYS ask
    them who they are already running with and what their specific questions
    are.  I LOVE getting with groups, and frequently “demand” that any
    individual who asks to meet with me bring with them 3-5 others who they
    “run” with or want to influence themselves.  I do this for several
    reasons:

    1. It multiplies my time.2. Life change happens best in the context of relationships.3. It keeps the conversation going and multiplies the questions.4. It removes the “excitement” of getting to be “the guy” who got some time with “the guy”.5. It minimizes any confusion that might come in something I said
    because only one set of ears heard it. (Of course, the opposite is also
    true. My stupidity could be confirmed by the masses but I’m willing to
    take that risk.  I have had a lot more trouble with the former than the
    latter.  People who are “advice seeking” love to isolate their
    counselors so they are the sole arbiter/interpreter of what they heard
    from their “multitude” of counselors.  Meeting with 10 different
    “counselors” one at a time is infinitely worse than meeting with the 10
    of them together, and since it is hard to get 10 counselors together at
    once the next best thing is to have your community with you when you
    meet with any counselor.)6.  It produces immediate accountability if something is shared that needs to be acted on.7.  Nothing else comes to mind, but 7 is the perfect number, and I
    wanted to put something that looks like I had perfect thoughts on this.

    The other thing I almost always share with people, and ask from them,
    is for them to come with questions. I ask for the questions, or at least a good representation of
    what the main question(s) are going to be, in advance.  I know from
    experience that if folks really have questions, firing them right back
    is NO problem.  If, however, they are a victim of the “if I can just get
    a meal/cup of coffee with ‘the guy’ then my life will change, my dating
    life will pick up, my career will advance, I will become more popular
    and Jesus will be able to use me more” mentality, I sometimes don’t hear
    back.

    Above all I remind them Jesus is available, worth telling others you know personally and you can spend time all the time alone with Him you want.

    Proverbs 4:7

    @wordsfromwags:twitter

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      The idea of bringing others to the questioning session sounds like a great idea.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      You make several great points, Todd!  Regarding group meetings, I’ve also found them a great way to GET my mentors in the room.  I’ll buy a DVD study of someone we can all learn from (i.e. John Maxwell) and set up 90-min bi-weekly meetings at my office inviting several people that I look up to. 

      To one of your points above, 80-90% accept the invitation because they see the value in learning from the others in the room (I try to pick diverse crowds where the most individuals don’t know each other).  Also, I may make it easier for everyone to justify the time investment by doing it over breakfast or lunch.   
      The best part for me is that after the video, the conversation always turns to one of the participants asking a question about a pressing issue in their life/leadership.  The discussion is challenging and helpful to all of us.   Thanks again for sharing some great ideas, Todd!   

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Excellent!

  • http://craigstumpf.blogspot.com/ Craig Stumpf

    Love the “simple conversation” idea…

    I came to your blog from the church relevant site top 200 list. They have created a tremendous forum for finding new blogs that impact people.

    I hope my blog can be an encouragement to you also. 

    I write it for encouragement and motivation daily.

    http://i-never-fail.blogspot.com 

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to watching the connections grow!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Hey Craig! Welcome to the blog. We hope you’ll find it a great resource for your leadership needs and beyond. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do.

      • http://craigstumpf.blogspot.com/ Craig Stumpf

        Thanks. I look forward to learning.

  • Zachary Cochran

    In short, mentors are worth a latte.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Actually, they’re worth a lot more than a latte. But the least you could do is buy them one.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    In my case, I’m writing in a professional sense (a whole new direction for me). Loads of advice exists online  and in book form, but I’m also enrolled in an apprentice writing course with Christian Writers Guild. The learning experience is built on two platforms, a written curriculum and an assigned mentor. The work has been practical and my mentor’s thoughts have been invaluable. I also thrive on deadlines and structure.

    I appreciate the wisdom you share in finding someone a step or two ahead of you in the journey. Good, honest stuff.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Finding an in-person mentor has been something that I have struggled with. I love the idea of having one. I love the learning that would take place. I just struggle with finding someone that will provide valuable insight for where my life is heading.

    For now, I consider myself mentored by the authors I read, the podcasters that I listen to, and the blogs that I read. There has been tremendous progress in my life using these mentors.

    Now I need to find someone in my life to start mentoring me.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Hey Joe!  I definitely agree that “media mentoring” (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.) is critical.  I also agree that one-on-one mentoring, as described by Daniel in this post, is a game-changer.  Is there someone local (driving distance) that is doing what you want to do in the next few years?  If you find a couple of these people and ask them to talk over coffee, I bet you’ll be surprised at their response.  

      Good luck in your search.  Personal mentors have changed my life for the better and I know they’ll do the same for you!   

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        John, thanks for the advice.

        I’ve been looking but haven’t found anyone. Then again, I’m not sure where to look for a mentor. After spending 9 hours at work plus an hour of total drive time, there hasn’t been much left over.

        A few areas I am interested in moving towards are Speaking, Writing, and Mentoring. Now to find someone local to help guide me in increasing my skills in these areas.

        • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

          Joe, I would say to you that you need to intentionally build relationships over time. Don’t get too hung up on the big word “mentor” as if you have to carry a sign on your chest. But you may attend local gatherings in your area of pursuit and just build friendships. 

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    I have been praying for a mentor, but there has not been one placed in my path yet. I also would like to be a mentor but have not felt led to that relationship as of yet. So, I’m waiting for God to move.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    My mentor actually found and pursued a relationship with me. @jenniferowhite has taught me so much about faith and life. I have been tremendously blessed by her willingness to provide and invest time into my life. Everyone needs to have a mentor like her. 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      A person who seeks out someone to mentor understands that we can all learn from anyone.  They also understand that, when done properly, the teacher learns more than the student!  Congrats, Sundi on a having someone like this in your life!

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks John. She’s definitely had her work cut out for her. :)

  • AnneGale Nester

    Wow. Great post and some great comments. I’m the senior “gal” with a novel in hand. I know God caused me to write it. It may never be for publication, only as a lesson to do other writing. Yet I feel over my head and confused. But God is not the author of confusion, so I know there is more. I joined a Christian writer’s group. A little light and one step at a time. I plan to use Daniel Darling’s ideas and a few from the comments I ‘ve read to his post. Especially about Toastmaster. I pray God will use my writing to His will. Thanks to all of you for your help. See, you’re mentoring already.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the timely post Daniel! Though I did not have the privilege of growing under a mentor, currently I am contemplating the possibility of mentoring young aspirants. I am working out the modality of mentoring and in the process of rolling out shortly. Your post was a right motivation this morning.

  • Pingback: 8 Simple Ways To Find A Mentor « I climbed the hill to talk to the tree…

  • http://twitter.com/CunninghamOrtiz Stephanie Ortiz

    Thank you for posting on such a great topic. You really put things in perspective for me, especially when you mentioned that we need a mentor who isn’t too high up. How true! My Dad was a professional athelete and coach and though he wants to help people by his very nature, his advice doesn’t always work for, ahem, people like me (I’m just writing a book) or my husband (who’s starting his own business). Better to find a more appropriate mentor, for sure!

  • http://www.ChristianStressManagement.com/ Miriam Kinai

    Thank goodness for the internet because we can now follow on Facebook and Twitter our online mentors, even people we may not be able to access physically, and learn a lot from them.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    But what if I want Godin as my mentor?

  • Aaron Drake

    Thank you for the great ideas, Daniel.  Having mentors in your life is the fastest way to grow in a short amount of time.  My GPS tells me when there are accidents or delays on my route, it saves a ton of time.  Mentors do the same, they warn me of the pitfalls, delays and mistakes on my route because they have already been down that road.  Most people would be honored to be a mentor, they just have never been asked!

  • http://www.charlesspecht.com/ Charles Specht

    A while back a man said to me that he wanted to be my mentor.  It was a very nice gesture on his part, but I really didn’t even know him that well.  I explained to him that the mentor relationship needs to be “wanted” and pursued by both parties.  I still believe this.

  • Edward Douan

    Very Insightful!!  Thanks!

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Our Young Adults Pastor has inadvertently become my mentor through me stepping up to lead the Young Adults worship team. He’s in his 40′s and is doing great things for God. Serving alongside Leaders is a great way to get into mentorship without even labelling it as that.

  • Jan Carlyle

    I find this one particularly hard, as I know and have heard so many times that getting a mentor is critical for your business and personal growth.  Should your mentor be the same sex as you? Should they be in the same industry as you?  Should they share your  spiritual perspective? I’m not sure if i’m limiting myself by wanting YES to be the answer to all three of these questions! Any advice, greatly appreciated!

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Find a Mentor « Todd Stocker's Blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/haimiqtell Haim At Iqtell

    Mentors can be even fictional characters like Master Yoda from star wars, he was right there when I grew up with advice about how to reach goals and keep myself in focus.

    …I even wrote a post about it :)http://iqtell.com/2012/01/what-master-yoda-can-teach-us-about-goals/ 

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    But what if I want Godin as my mentor?