Do you ever wish you had a mentor? Do you long for guidance, encouragement, and help in your life and business? Have you nearly given up in frustration, unable to forge such a relationship?
I started feeling that way, too, in my mid-twenties. I found myself one of the first women in my denomination to lead a sizable church music ministry. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life; I am still close friends with many of the talented and committed individuals I was blessed to work with there.
But it was also lonely, discouraging, confusing, and sometimes painful work. It was right before the advent of social media, so I couldn’t easily find other women who had been in similar situations. Meanwhile, the ministry was going through extremely trying times (two church splits in less than a decade), and as a controversial staff member, I found myself in hot water.
I felt so alone. But I wasn’t. I was surrounded by true friends who prayed me through it and gave me a lot — a lot — of grace and forgiveness for my many, many failures. My husband was a trooper, supporting me, counselling, and wiping my tears every step of the way. And God was so good. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I’ve experienced similar feelings of loneliness and disorientation since, nearly every time I start something new. A new job, a new role, a new project — they all knock me off my groove and make me feel like I’m alone in my incapacity. Which I’m not. But it sure feels that way.
It wasn’t until recently that it dawned on my how utterly wrong my perspective was. I was looking for mentoring “love” in all the wrong places.
My mentors are right in front of me all along.
Yours are, too. You can find the encouragement, knowledge, and assistance you need — just look up to these people in your life.
1. Successful people
No matter what you are doing, you doubtless know someone who has done something similar or who has been in a very close situation. Mark the similarities and differences in their example. Note what they do right and copy that. Take notice of the pitfalls, errors, or mistakes you want to avoid. Be grateful for the trailblazers and examples of faith God has given you.
How wonderful to live in such a book-rich time and place! No matter what you want to do, what problem you want to solve, or what business you want to start, there are a dozen books on it. These authors are giving you their nearly free advice! Take it! Throw out what doesn’t apply, isn’t your style, or doesn’t work for you. Then take the rest to heart.
3. Free articles and webinars
I am in awe how much we can learn for free now online! There are companies who do nearly nothing but teach you things. For free! That’s my love language, baby.
Subscribe to blogs and read them. Follow thought leaders on social media and notice what they say and how they say it. Take the free webinar, get the free certification, read the free pdf download. There is so much free information cast your way every day — take it in.
4. Teachers and pastors
Do you tell your pastor, Sunday School teacher, or small group leader when you’re struggling with a new venture? Do you ask for prayer, advice, and resources? You may be surprised what they come up with. At the very least, the intercession on your behalf can only further draw the resources of heaven toward your aid. Thank God for such care.
5. Friends – IRL and online
Such rich resources are right across the coffee cup, or just a tweet away. Ask your fellow blogger if she’d like to chat regularly to “talk shop” and encourage one another. Make a standing date with your fellow homeschool mom across town to let off steam. Stay in close social media and email contact with your online friends who regularly give you the boost of support you need. These are your “peeps” God gave you. Cherish those relationships.
I find my mentor nearly everywhere I look, now — sitting beside my son, teaching him how to drive; calling me on Skype to show me her beautiful, pink-swaddled answer to prayer; emailing me blogging advice; advising me how to teach online — demonstrating world-changing business practices through humble, spirit-filled relationships.
My mentor is now a tapestry of mother-figures, childhood friends, writing buddies, respected colleagues, and senior saints. Each plays an important role in my life, speaking wisdom and hope into my soul and illuminating the next step on a sometimes-foggy road. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m grateful my mentors found me.