Kara’s Collection: Choosing a Mentor

From an article originally posted July 2, 2013…

First, I want to say how extremely dear this post is to me. I was mopping the floor this morning and I was reminded of a mentor (that probably didn’t know she was a mentor), and I began to reflect on the idea of a mentor.

Apart from the Holy Spirit, I feel that mentors in my life have made such a lasting, deep impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me, and some were women that opened their lives wide open for me to watch. Both nurtured new strength in me. Strength to love my guy, creativity to love my kids, a desire to peruse Jesus. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands. Though, clearly, there are areas of tension and struggle in all families. But I look to see if they desire to move toward their spouses and not away.

Second, they make time for other people in their life. Some women may be an excellent fit but simply don’t have an understanding of inviting another into their life. I have had moments where I have respected this and moments where I forced myself right in (you know who you are, my great horned owl mama). Some have never been asked before and it’s exciting to learn together.

Third, they speak vulnerably about weakness. I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. This is a tricky balance with my first standard. But, this is where I would look to see if someone is willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them in their walk. Women who are open personally without bashing others around them.

And lastly, and most importantly, they seek Jesus in their moments throughout their day. In all areas, even and especially, in the mundane. Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and corrected by scripture?

Here are a few other thoughts. When Jason was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that place, we often then sought those parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch. Watching has often been my favorite mentoring. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness, I love to watch someone include their children in the events of the home, I love watching someone love their spouse creativity, and I really love to see women who are community builders/warm includers.

Common interests also help. I have had moms show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just can’t get enough of their Bibles. I often try and enter the life of a person that might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to friend the women I mentor. So I want to be clear that there is shared joy.

Things to be wary of. Be careful of people who are given to gossip. I don’t need to elaborate here. Also be wary of people who don’t speak well of others (kind of the same as gossip). Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. I was in the Navigators for a long time and I struggled to see mentoring as only one way. Sitting down across from one another, Bibles open, every week. That is an awesome model, but certainly not the only model. Look also for someone that will promote the freedom in Christ. The joy of walking near to Jesus. Be careful of someone that would seek to tie you up in legalism and rules.

I would lastly say, if you long to grow, be willing to be vulnerable. There is nothing more beautiful to me than walking someone to the light of Jesus after they’ve shared a dark hidden area of their life, and together we shine the light of Jesus on it and see what He has for the situation. If you desire to be mentored or have a mentor, you must be a safe place. Confidences must be kept. Also, I have always pursued my mentors, but I understand the desire to be pursued. I think after a few tough mentoring experiences, I know a good fit for my personality. But that is my experience and how I find mentors. I also find that the people I long to be my mentors are often very humble people that have never really seen themselves as mentors. I have found these women to be some of the most fantastic mentors.

As I was writing this, I thought through the many mentors God has blessed me with. Oh my soul. I’m so blessed. I know as the days go on I will think on more and more women who have loved me so well and fret that I didn’t include their picture (many of which I jacked from Facebook). But my soul gives thanks for these gifts. These women and mothers to my heart have walked many long, dark days with me. Thank you, dear women, for loving me where I am and pointing me to Jesus! How I would love a coffee with each of you this morning; instead, I will sit here in the quiet of my corner seat and give thanks for you. God bless y’all!

Some of these women met me in a time of joy while others met me in a time of crisis. These women have met me loved me, found me in a puddle on their doorstep. And wouldn’t you know, some of these women are my closest friends, just as the women I’ve mentored are so near to my heart.

Do you have a mentor? How do you seek your mentor? Gosh, ask questions! This is an area I love to discuss.

I was just praying about this post, and I had a thought I wanted to add. This is kind of the Proverbs 31 of mentors. But please know there is grace in all of the above. Just last week I was meeting with a young mama and I ended with repenting and asking forgiveness about talking about a situation. So please know, over all of it there is grace. Openness to repent to one another. To grow in grace in the hiccups. So yes, these are great things to look for, but we all stumble and fall even in the midst of seeking Jesus together. Thank you, Jesus, for your kindness to us.