Let’s Talk About Mentoring: 4 Reasons You Need a Mentor

reasons why i need a mentor

Everyone knows they need a mentor, but very few people have one. Why?

The reasons are many, really–people don’t know how to find the right person, or fear of rejection keeps them from asking. Getting a mentor falls into the dangerous “important but not urgent” category, so it never gets done. Others have no idea what a healthy mentoring relationship would actually look like, so they never take the first step.

This year, we’re going to focus on these questions with a monthly mentoring series. We’ll cover topics like how to find the right person, how to begin a mentoring relationship, what questions you should be asking, and how to keep things on track with your mentor.

You don’t need to wait till the series is over to ask for mentoring, but I hope knowing that help is coming will give you the confidence you need to move forward.

Getting a mentor isn’t easy, but it can be done, and it’s worth it. Today, we’re going to start by examining why:  

1. While we all ultimately have to find our own way, mentors can help you navigate that road more smoothly. Someone a few years down the road from you has the benefit of wisdom and experience behind them. A good mentor will get to know you, and can speak into your life with the benefit of their past experience.

2. Mentors bring a fresh perspective. It’s difficult to see your own strengths, weaknesses, and challenges clearly. Mentors can help you understand yourself better and see things as they really are.

3. Mentors make you ask the hard questions. having a mentor forces you to think through difficult questions, to consider what you really need and where you really want to go. If you have no idea what you need, you haven’t thought about it enough. Mentors make you think (and can nudge you if you’re stuck).

4. Mentors normalize our struggles. It’s enormously reassuring to hear your mentor say something like, “This thing you’re struggling with? I struggled with that, too. Everyone does.”

5. Mentors concretely improve our performance in and satisfaction with our work. Numerous studies have shown that people with mentors make more money at work, are promoted more often, and are more satisfied with their jobs. The benefits of mentoring outside the workplace may be harder to measure but they’re just as real.

For now, be on the lookout for potential mentors. (If you find someone with mentoring potential, go ahead and ask them. It’s awkward, but it’s worth it.)

Next time, we’ll talk about how to ask for mentoring.

What topics would you like to see covered in this mentoring series?

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Comments

  1. says

    Such a great topic/series. It’s so hard to know when to let a mentoring relationship take shape naturally, and when to be blunt and ask for it. (Does that make sense)…I usually am waiting for it to happen naturally, but since we move a lot it is hard to get a relationship to that point and then it is starting over. So…I probably need to do better at just being up front and then communicating online as well, so it isn’t as location dependent…

    • says

      Johanna, I can not encourage you enough to find it online. Since you move a lot, getting an online mentor may just be the way for you to grow into something deeper and longer lasting. I have experience with this. I am from Holland, my husband is from the US. We recently got married and did some of our marriage counseling on line. Whenever we were in the same place we’d meet with the mentor in person, whenever we were separated I would be with her and he would join us over skype. Worked wonderfully. It was intense, and deep, and long lasting since we have asked her to stay involved now that we are married. I even meet with her online now myself. Do it.

  2. Beth @ dot in the city says

    Mentors can be so helpful! I love having a work mentor to talk through ideas for the future, etc. But I also appreciate the encouragement to get a blog mentor.

  3. says

    You totally just gave me the kick in the rear that i needed to seek out a mentor – i’ve been avoiding it, even though I know I need to do it.

    XXO! miss you!

  4. says

    I actually just wrote into my performance plan for work TODAY under “personal improvement” that I was going to find a mentor in the next 6 months, so thanks for the second kick in the pants :)

    I’d love to have a discussion about the benefits/downfalls of a “virtual” mentor versus a local mentor. The person I’m considering lives cross-country and while awesome, there’s a little bit of a difference between a Skype call and sitting down for coffee! So looking forward to this series, lady!

    • Anne says

      Love the timing!

      Amanda, that’s a topic we’ll definitely cover. (Cross-country mentors are good; the big drawback is they can’t see you in action. We’ll talk about it more in a future post!)

  5. says

    We have formal mentoring programs here for newly appointed*/elected judges, and they can be very helpful. I found that I’ve also developed relationship with colleagues that have some of the characteristics of a mentoring relationship. Those have been extremely valuable too.

    It also seems like I’ve been able to serve a couple younger people in the faith this way, primarily those who are pastors at local churches. One sought me out purposefully to be a mentor, and another just developed like this on its own. Neither are formalized in any way, but they still work.

    My wife has had this type of thing for years too. She seems to always have a couple of moms with young kids who need support or guidance o someone to take the kids for a couple hours (or a couple days) or just a listening ear. (As you know, I’ve written about her ministry to these young mothers before.) None of these were ever formally set up as mentoring relationships, but that’s what they were at times.

    Mentoring seems to me to be a God-ordained practice at times too. Paul and Timothy, Barnabas and Mark, Eli and Samuel, Naomi and Ruth, all have mentor characteristics in their relationships.

    Cheers,
    Tim

    *I am mentoring one of our newer judges, although she’s been on the bench over 4 1/2 years now and probably doesn’t need my guidance any longer. I tell her that I am the mentor, and she is the manatee. Because mentee sounds like something you take to freshen your breath after drinking stale coffee.

    • Anne says

      Tim, I love how you’re on both sides of the mentoring relationship! Thanks for sharing.

      I’ve heard the term “protege” used a lot instead of mentee, but if mentee sounds like a breath mint, protege just sounds pretentious. Manatee just makes me laugh, that’s probably not a bad thing!

  6. says

    Just recently realized that I don’t have mentors but instead I have a wonderful group of encouragers, there is a difference. My goal is to seek out a mentor that can give the constructive advice that I need to take the next step towards my goal. Thanks for sharing your thought on the subject.

  7. says

    Good stuff. I’ve had mentors in the past but no one comes to mind right now, aside from my mom who is one of my best encouragers and advisers. The best mentors came about naturally- our friendship headed into that direction on its own. When I’ve formally asked someone, even when they agreed, something about the formality or the label made it not work. But I like the intentionality you’re describing here.

    • Anne says

      “When I’ve formally asked someone, even when they agreed, something about the formality or the label made it not work.”

      I’ve had that happen, too–I’m wondering if it has to do with the crushing pressure of expectations. The formality can make us feel weird and self-conscious.

  8. says

    Love this and totally agree. Mentors help us see things through different eyes, especially when we are so “emotionally involved” in a problem that we are not seeing clearly.

  9. says

    I am super, super excited about this series. I have a mentor, and I’m mentoring someone too, so I think I’ll gain a lot from your insight.

    Here are a few questions I’d love to see tackled:

    I’ve been meeting with my mentor for a few years now and sometimes/often our conversation is starting to feel a little stale. I’m not getting as much out of our time as I once was. How can I improve this?

    On the flip side, sometimes when I show up to meet my mentee, I have no idea how to start! We seems to have good conversation and things flow somewhat naturally but I’m always afraid I won’t know where to take things or if I’m doing it “right.” Insight? :)

    • Anne says

      Lesley, thanks for the questions. I’ll make sure we cover those!

      (And typically speaking, it’s up to the mentee to steer the conversation and the relationship. That may not be the case for formal mentoring programs, but typically they would be the one in the driver’s seat. We’ll talk about it more in a future post!)

  10. says

    Good words, especially on point number 4! When my mentor, who I had in a way been paired with via my church, mentioned that her marriage age was later than the age I am now, I realized that she would recognize my struggles in singleness far more than one who had been married right out of high school. As we shared our stories, we saw points of such deep similarity, which truly can be found in most relationships.
    I haven’t had mentorship in any work relationship, but as a Christian seeking to live out the Gospel, I find it a beautiful thing. My mentor and I actually call it coaching, but it’s the same idea.
    I’ve read some great posts elsewhere so I’m excited to see what you share. I’d love if you hosted some sort of link-up with this, for people to share their stories of mentorship, both as a mentee and as a mentor.
    I know this post doesn’t explicitly speak of Christ, but I’ve been working through an absolutely incredible book called “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands” in a 8-week class by my church called “Counselling in Community”. I’d highly recommend it (or at least a read through several specific chapters) to anyone looking to mentor with a Gospel perspective. It’s truly beautiful for me, and really challenging, because it totally challenges my natural ways of counselling the people I encounter, but it’s so pushing me into wiser counsel.

  11. says

    We had some some very good marriage counseling going on. And now that we are married (16 weeks ;) I feel mentorship is more important than ever. I am totally in favor of finding someone to process with for me, for finding my way in this new life, ministry wise and our marriage. I am very fortunate to have some really good friends who do ask the tough questions but still… I think finding a mentor will make life more beautiful, better and easier. I have never thought it hard to ask… I would encourage people to really start looking around and just ask!! Remembering that God will have the perfect person lined up for you, sometimes (often) it will just take a while to get there. Blessings!

  12. Ik says

    Thank you so much for writing this! Though it’s nine months old already, just like every truly great piece, its’ wisdom is ageless.
    I’m just on the verge of asking someone I really respect to be my mentor (went to google for advice and that’s how I found you). I’m nervous about it, but that won’t stop me. I have already sent out a mail requesting a private meeting so my hat is already over the wall!

    Hope to let you know how it goes. Great job!

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