I just read an interesting article on mentoring from Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) over on TechCrunch about finding mentors and thought the same advice can apply to young youth workers. Mike did a fast poll of some of his social media folks receiving their advice on finding mentors for their business start-ups and this is my summary of their results, plus some of my own.
You can’t get a (good) mentor by asking someone to be your mentor
Anyone worth asking to be your mentor is probably super busy, but I disagree that you can’t at least try. I would suggest that you don’t have to have a sit down and coffee mentor meeting every week but you could ask to have a short term e-mail conversation with the person you’d like to mentor you.
Let mentor relationships happen organically.
Examine the natural connections in your life right now, it could be a blog you read regularly (like this one) , a YouTube show you watch , a newsletter you subscribe to, or a person you are in a network meeting with. Try leaving comments on that blog you read and ask lots of questions or e-mail the person directly engaging them on the content they have posted. These potential mentors post content for interaction, take them up on it.
Ask specific questions beyond “What should I do?”
Before you connect with your potential mentor, write down what problem you would specifically like to solve. Here’s a short list of options to explore
- What kind of habits do I need to establish to get better at X
- What principles do I need to understand about growing my youth group?
- What resources should I have in my tool box?
Write down all the questions you have an then take a deep dive on exactly what you want to know.
Don’t pick a celebrity mentor who is light years away fro you.
Youth Workers who have hundreds of kids showing up have nothing in common with youth workers who struggle to get 10 kids to show up. Rather, it would be to your advantage to choose a mentor who has 10 to 20 more kids than you who may have more time and willingness to share how they got their.
Mentors who are still “doers” are more valuable.
Doer’s does not have to mean that your potential mentor is still a full time youth pastor but they may still volunteer in their home church or they are are still keeping up with youth culture.
Avoiding bad mentors
What is a bad mentor? This is subjective, but let me list a few characteristics of what I think a bad mentor is
- They don’t have time for you.
- They make you feel small, lording their knowledge over you.
- They don’t share their secrete, the lead you on with generalities
- They try to up-sell you to a paid program of some kind (unless that is something you agreed to ahead of time).
- They try to manipulate you to their own ends
Feel free to add your own in the comments below. No matter how desperate you may, be allow those who mentor you to take advantage of you. My guess is you’re a smart person and you’ll be able to spot a bad mentor when you encounter them.
If you are looking for some mentoring/coaching, you can visit my site here to see what I offer.
Do you currently have a mentor? How did you find them?
Which of these six pieces of advice can you act on right now?
Have you ever had a mentoring experience? What was that like?