November is the obvious month for discussions about the blessing we enjoy. During these important conversations, I want to draw our attention towards a critical relationship that promises the human connection and impact we all seek.
I believe in order to reach our God-given potential each of us needs to find a mentor. Unfortunately, mentoring is both a lost art and a critical need.
This generation is wondering “where’s my mentor?” Those of us that are fortunate enough to have found mentors in our life have an obligation to help others discover their own.
It’s easy to blur the role of a mentor with the other influencer roles in our culture including teacher, coach, guru, or even pastor.
A mentor is someone you would trust with life’s most important decisions.
These are four core traits of a great mentor;
- A mentor is somebody who has wisdom they are willing to share.
Unlike information, opinions, likes or follows, which are abundant in today’s digital world, wisdom is battle-tested application of truth that has been earned. Today we see many extremely talented people who are so self focused, busy, or needy…there’s simply no time left over for sharing what they have. They may have gathered insight and wisdom to the point overflowing, but they’ve never made the shift to sharing that wisdom with others. A mentor is willing to share the wisdom they have accumulated.
- A mentor will take the time to get to know you.
Mentoring is a contact sport. It takes commitment and there are no shortcuts. An effective mentor gets to know the mentee over time by exchanging ideas, exploring history, and walking by their side. A mentor who knows your weaknesses, gifts, and tendencies has valuable context to offer valuable advice.
- A mentor loves you.
That doesn’t mean they only say nice things to you. In fact some of the most important and loving conversation you will ever have happen when someone confronts you and calls you to your potential. That often feels like tough love. However, a true mentor is never manipulative, so you will know with certainty their advice is free from conflict and given solely for your benefit.
- A mentor will share your worldview.
By worldview, I mean they believe the same things you believe about why we are here on Earth and how we keep score.
This is more than just sharing your political affiliations. An implicit part of a mentoring relationship is emulating somebody who lives their life in a way you admire.
Whereas the first three characteristics of a mentor govern their interaction with the mentee, this vital fourth characteristic addresses how the mentor interacts with external, revealed truth, and how that truth resonates with the mentee. An alignment of core beliefs and values creates a shared worldview that is critical for great mentoring relationship.
So…now that we have reminded ourselves of the four core characteristics of a mentor, let’s take up the challenge to be the mentors that we wish we had.
Or, are we that person with wisdom too busy chasing our own ambitions to connect with one or two people right around us who are hungry for our investment?
This holiday season, when our kids return from college and we are gathered around our tables, let’s be on the lookout for people around us who we can truly impact. The next generation is crying out, “where’s my mentor? Are we listening?
Seth Buechley met Aaron Walker and ISI in 2016 after losing his two mentors. He’s the author of Ambition: Leading with Gratitude and owns Cathedral Consulting where he enjoys helping leaders build and sell valuable businesses.