I went out-of-state for college hoping that I could have a “fresh start”, whatever that meant. I was hoping to run away from my problems, bad friends…high school drama. But when I went to college, nothing changed. I was in a new state, a new surrounding, with new people, but the same problems followed me. Because I was the same. Because my heart was the same.
Have you been through something similar? You think that moving away, changing churches, or getting new friends will change something in you.
But it’s never the circumstances that will change what’s really going on in your heart. Only God can do the work in your heart that will help you to shift your perspective regarding your circumstances. However, it can get difficult when you’re doing it on your own. And that’s when a spiritual mentor steps in to walk beside you, to help you get back on track, to advise, train/disciple, rebuke, and encourage alongside you.
I sought out my first mentors during college because I realized that if I wanted my “problems” to go away, then something would have to change within me. College was tough enough with its own temptations. I didn’t need all of that in addition to the problems I had dragged along with me. I also wanted to mind my future and what life was going to be like post-college. So I had two mentors throughout my time in college: one was a graduate student, and one was a mother with three young children. Both taught me tremendous lessons through their life stories.
Even after college, I sought mentors during different seasons of my life. But for the past two years I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t know who to ask. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted one. But in the past month or so, I sought out another spiritual mentor to guide me through rediscovering my identity as a beloved, special child of God.
If you haven’t had a mentor before, or are curious about seeking one out, here are some reasons why I have a spiritual mentor. To make things clear, I believe that mentors should be of the same gender as the disciple (the one being mentored). And to keep consistent, I will be using the female pronoun since I’m female. 🙂 But if you’re a man reading this, please be seeking out a male mentor.
1. She’s not just your friend, she’s your coach.
Mentors are certainly a friend, but they go beyond that. I like to think of mentors like coaches. It’s not about the coach’s success, but the player’s success. Coaches are in it for you. Coaches look to improve individual players’ skills so that the overall team is more successful. They’re going to tell you what your strengths are, but also what you need to work on. And to take that one step further, they’re going to guide you through the method/practice of how to get there.
2. It’s a relationship that points you to God.
Just like a teacher, a mentor can teach, disciple, coach, encourage a thousand different ways, but if the disciple is not willing to be taught, then it will not work. If you are seeking out a mentor, first pray for your heart to be made teachable. No one likes to hear hard truths. The one who is unteachable will reject the teaching without question, and harden away her heart. The one who is teachable may be hesitant at first to receive the teaching, but will consider that the teaching is coming from someone who cares about her, and will ponder upon it.
There’s a third component to this relationship, and that is your relationship (and your mentor’s relationship) with God, because you cannot depend only on the mentor to change your life. At the beginning of this post, I stated that only God can change your heart. As you are submitting to the authority of your mentor, you should also submit wholly to God’s ultimate authority, and the work He’s doing in your life.
3. You can’t do it alone.
There are several mentorship examples in the Bible. To name a few:
- Elijah mentored Elisha
- Eli mentored Samuel
- Paul mentored Titus, Timothy, and others
- Jesus mentored his disciples
You are not meant to walk with God alone. Even pastors have mentors. Missionaries have mentors. Mentors have mentors!
Many valuable lessons can be learned from each mentorship listed above, and I’ll go into them more in future posts. But for now, know this: We are not meant to walk with God alone. You may feel physically alone, especially if you are the only Christian in your family or neighborhood. But a mentor is there to walk with you regardless of how far apart you are.
If you are at a point in your life where you feel like you are the one needing mentoring, begin by praying and asking God for one. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your small group and church. Ask your church leaders if they have any recommendations.
Needing a mentor is not a weakness. It actually shows your strength and humility. To be able to admit that you can’t do it all. To be able to confess that you need help. That takes courage.
You could be seeking to be trained in leadership. Perhaps you need healing and deliverance from a certain sin. Maybe you’re like me, and need someone to help restore your identity in Christ. Whatever your need is, seek the mentor that can help you in that way.
I pray for fruitful relationships to take place this year, as our ultimate goal is to become more like Christ.