A Christian mentor is someone committed to offering to you love, guidance, support, and accountability, all founded in Biblical truth, as you journey through life. For some teens, a mom or dad does a pretty good job at filling this roll. An older sibling or relative may also mentor you in certain areas or times of your life. Often, however, family relationships are strained by history (meaning a track record of disappointments, conflicts, and doubt) and hopes (meaning what is expected of you, jaded by love and family attachment). The result is that some teens feel disconnected from the people who are supposed to form their network of support. In this case, those relationships still need to be tended to, but it may also be wise to find a mentor outside of the family unit. This is not to say that a mentor is unnecessary if a teen’s family scenario is healthy and happy. In this case, a mentor becomes an extension of the family, offering intentional support and guidance.
A Mentor Should Be…
Finding a Christian mentor is a worthwhile pursuit. But just anybody won’t do! Here are some things to look:
- More Than Just A Christian
Your mentor most definitely needs to be someone who is living out her faith according to Biblical principles, evidenced by how she spends her time and resources (Matthew 6:21), and revealed by what comes out of her mouth (Matthew 12:34). She needs to be more than just a Sunday-church-going, Christian-by-religious-label woman, for if she isn’t living out the disciplines of her faith (ex., study of Scripture, quiet time, prayer, service, worship) in her private life, she won’t be able to encourage you in yours without feeling like a hypocrite. Without a condemning, judgmental heart, look for fruit to determine the tree. (Matthew 7:15-21)
- More Than Just An Older Woman
Older woman have a wealth of wisdom, simply from living life and gaining experience in a variety of areas. However, older doesn’t necessarily mean wiser, if her wisdom doesn’t come from the Word. Therefore, look for a Christian mentor who spends time learning the Word through personal study, Bible study, and through the teaching of solid Bible teachers and pastors. Your mentor won’t always have all the answers to your questions, but she needs to know where to go to find them.
- More Than Just a Nice Person
Sometimes the nicest people make the worst mentors because they are too afraid of holding you accountable. Be sure to pick a mentor that is not afraid of offending you by asking straight questions and calling you on your lazy or conniving ways.
- More Than Just Wanting to Help
A mentoring relationship takes time and dedication. It requires a weekly or bi-weekly time commitment to either meet face-to-face or connect over the phone. A mentor needs to have time in her schedule to devote to you. There are plenty of women who have a heart for mentoring, but at this season in her life, may not have the time.
Prepare Your Heart
Finding a mentor isn’t always a smooth and simple process. Before you head on a mentor hunt, take time to prepare your heart and expectations.
Don’t go looking for a mentor without first praying. God needs to do the match-making, not you. Take time, even daily, to speak with the Lord about why you’d like a mentor and what you hope to gain from the relationship. Ask Him to reveal to you just the right person.
- Consider Your Expectations
Take time to figure out why you want to have a mentor. Write down a list of what you’d like to learn, how you’d like to be guided, and how much time you want to devote to the relationship on a regular basis. Also, have a period of time in mind, such as 3 months or 6 months. Once you find a mentor, you can share these things with her and see if she is the right fit.
- Wait and Watch
Finding a mentor takes time, so be willing to wait and watch the people God has put in your life to see if there is a natural fit already in place. However, if you are in crisis situation and desperately need help, you should speak directly to your parents, youth pastor, or even counselor at school. Mentors are not professional counselors, but rather older, wiser friends. A mentor can’t fix your problems, especially if they are emotionally precarious, so be sure to get the right help from a professional.
Now it is time to approach the woman you’d like to have mentor you. It would be a good idea to set up a time to meet and tell that you’d like to talk about some things going on in your life. When you do meet, share with her that you are specifically looking for a mentor and explain your reasons. Tell her that you thought of her as a possible fit, but also give her time to think, pray, and respond. Suggest she can get back to you in a week or so. You may also direct her to the mentoring section on this site. Be sure to be praying for God to confirm, guide, and redirect, if necessary.
Honestly, God brings mentoring relationships together rather naturally, usually without a formal title or programmatic course of action. But if you are feeling lost and yearning for some Biblical wisdom and accountability, preparing your heart for a mentor and seeking out the women God has already put in your life can turn out to be a simply wonderful experience.
May God answer your prayers for a mentor!