What’s the fastest way to learn how to tie your shoes?
Let’s assume we’re back in the pre-YouTube Stone Ages of the 1990s. You just got a new pair of shoes and you need to figure out how to tie the laces. You’ve never done this before but you know others who have.
What’s the fastest and simplest way to learn how to tie your shoes?
Option 1: keep trying till you figure it out on your own
Option 2: find someone who knows and watch how they do it
Which would you choose?
How about if we’re talking about something different – like driving a car. Which would be easier: just get in there and starting pushing all the buttons and pedals till you figure it out? Or find someone who knows how to drive already and learn from them?
How about if we’re baking a cake? Should we just guess how many eggs and how much flour? Or should we find someone who knows and learn from them?
Today I’m talking about mentoring and the reason why I believe so strongly that you should consider finding a mentor(s) in 2017 is this:
The best way to get somewhere you’ve never been is to find someone who’s been there and learn from them.
The best way to do something you’ve never done is to find someone who’s done it and learn from them.
That’s the value of mentoring – learning from the experiences (both positive and negative) of others.
What is Mentoring?
The problem for many when it comes to mentoring is the narrow definition we ascribe to it. We think of mentoring as a Yoda/Luke Skywalker or Mr. Miyagi/Daniel-son kind of relationship – one where the mentor serves as the final answer to all of life’s questions.
But that’s not how I define it.
Mentoring has less to do with “discipleship” (mentor tells mentee what to do) and more to do with sharing life experience (mentee to asks questions and learns from mentor’s experience).
You don’t need a mentor to tell you what to eat for breakfast and what kind of soap to use in the shower. You’re a big boy/girl and you’re able to make decisions for yourself.
Even in a spiritual context, you’ve been given the same Holy Spirit as me and you don’t need me (a priest) to tell you what to do. Relying on one person to make all your decisions for you is neither Biblical nor is it sensible by any means (unless you’re Daniel-son of course).
You don’t need someone to make your decisions FOR YOU; you need someone to share how they make decisions WITH YOU.
You don’t need a mentor to tell you how to raise your kids. You need a mentor whose parenting style you admire and one whom you’d like to emulate. Instead of just trying to figure out how to reach that point on your own, you ask him/her questions and they share their experience and you learn from that.
That is mentoring. It’s not making decisions FOR YOU; it’s sharing life WITH YOU.
Same applies to your career. And your spiritual life. And your relationships. Find someone who’s gotten to where you want to get to and learn from their experience.
That’s why to me, it’s less about finding a mentor and more about finding a FRENTOR (friend/mentor) – not someone to tell you what to do but someone who can share their life experience and help you get where they’ve already gotten.
The Challenge: FIND 2-3 MENTORS IN 2017
Regardless of what your goals are for 2017, mentoring will be the easiest way to gain momentum towards achieving them.
So I challenge you to pray and think about who might be able to mentor you. Don’t just limit yourself to people with titles or some kind of position (ie, priests). In fact, my experience says that we priests often make the WORST mentors because our job/daily lifestyle is so different from yours (for example, you’re off Sundays, I’m off Mondays).
Think past priests or people with titles and look to who God has placed around you as part of your life.
Maybe you have a friend whose spiritual life you admire – she might be a good mentor to help you get more out of your daily quiet time.
Maybe you have a co-worker who does an excellent job of balancing work and family life – he might be a great mentor to help you in that area.
Maybe you’re really struggling with patience; ask yourself if there’s anyone around you who you admire in that regard who might be willing to share their experience.
You see how this works? Finding a mentor isn’t about finding someone with all the answers; it’s about finding someone whose experience I can learn from.
Because why would you spend all day figuring out how to tie your shoes, when there’s someone right next to you who already knows?