Let me be straight up with you. Regardless of your score and regardless of your attitude, you NEED a mentor. I wish there was one of those “That Was Easy” buttons to push and a perfect mentor would suddenly appear! Life does not work that way. It takes intention and effort on your part, humility, and a level of transparency to admit you do not have life figured out and cannot do it alone.  

Make a List

Surely, you know of older men you respect. Men who have seen you grow up. Not perfect men, but men of integrity. Or, a man you’ve come to know casually, someone who knows nothing of your past. They might not even know you exist other than by name. It’s time to man-up and reach out to him. Ask lots of questions about him and whether he mentors. Just because a guy has not mentored does not mean he is automatically disqualified. Here are some key indicators if a man is suited for mentoring:

A man with balance will listen well to you. He will hear your story and empathize with what you are facing. He shows a healthy dose of compassion and will take the time to walk the journey to healthier manhood with you.

How to Approach a Potential Mentor

Approaching a mentor is a bit like asking for a relationship. You cannot force people to be your friend, nor can you force a man to be your mentor. There has to be some sort of commonality with the person you’d like to ask to mentor you. If you are like me, I HATE cold calls and first-time introductions that don’t happen organically. The risk of rejection can make a man shrink back.

However, if you are a man of young, untested faith, keep in mind that God will fill any gap of timidity on your part. However you approach a potential mentor, do not ask him over text. You can text him to ask to get together, but the actual question “Would you be willing to mentor me?”  should be a face to face conversation. By asking in person, you can read body language and get a sense if any interest in mentoring you is genuine or token.

Here’s an example of how the conversation might go:

You:  Mr. Smith.  Thank you for taking time to meet with me. I’ve heard many good things about you and know you are a very wise man. As you might know, I’m in a stage of life where there’s a lot to figure out Some things I seem to have a reasonable handle on but others I am horrible at.  I was wondering if you might mentor me?

Mr. Smith:  Well, Carter, I’m flattered at your compliments. If you get to know me you’ll find out that I am not all that perfect. Tell me more about what you’d like to see in mentoring.

You:  Well, I know certain behaviors I have are not the best. I need to see them change and for the right reasons.  My faith in God is fairly shaky right now. There are days I just don’t know what I believe. My relationship with my girlfriend isn’t the greatest. We’ve done some things that I’d rather not say. I just want things to be better.

Mr. Smith:  Would you let me have time to think and pray about this? I’m not just going to say NO.  I’d like to consider if me coming alongside you will be the best for you.

 

Testing the Waters

At this point in the conversation, if there is a pause with your potential mentor, you could suggest that the two of you meet for a trial basis: weekly for a month; to test how the relationship might work. This is with the total understanding that if it doesn’t continue after the four weeks, the two of you will “shake hands and be friends”.

I recall times I’ve approached someone to mentor me. He thought I was asking to have a Bible Study. Now, Bible study can definitely be part of mentoring, but as I’ve tried to explain mentoring is the living out of what God says life is about. Many of my mentoring relationships will include Bible Study, but ALWAYS with a life application approach. Ultimately, mentoring is about you growing in manhood, where Christ is increasingly your life.  

For a Season

Life goes through seasons. In my mentoring experiences, young warriors will ebb and flow in and out of a mentoring relationship with me. Ryan and I met weekly for 3 years until he moved away for college. While away, we’d keep in touch by text, maybe weekly. On occasion, I’d make it to one of his basketball games. When life sent him off to the military, we didn’t see each other for over five months. Then, moving back home for eight months gave us opportunity to return to a weekly meeting, at his request. Someday, for different reasons, such as marriage and kids, our mentoring relationship will most likely change again.  

No Gaps

Here’s what I know: given the value of mentoring and godly accountability, I challenge every man I meet with to be in an accountability relationship for the rest of his life, until he dies. It might be with different men along the way, but there will be NO GAPS. Why?  Once you’ve experienced the value of a mentoring relationship, you won’t want to live life without one. One word of advice: do NOT tell your initial mentor you want to sign up for life! You might scare him off! But my hope is that you will develop a long view of mentoring and, as a warrior, become a mentor someday yourself.

Pray.  

Ask God to be at the center of your search for a mentor. Keep in mind you must be intentional about seeking out a mentor, but trust God for the process. If you get a lot of rejections, don’t run home to momma! Rejection is not about you.  It’s about finding the right man at the right time. Keep moving forward.

David Riffel ©2018

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.