Choosing a Mentor – Part Four

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…                    1> A good mentor is a worthy example                                                                                                                                         2> A good mentor is available                                                                                                                                                    3> A good mentor has proven experience                                                                                                                                 4> A good mentor possesses wisdom                                                                                                                                         5> A good mentor provides friendship and support

6> A good mentor is a coach who makes a difference in people’s lives

A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.

In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested. 

In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,

      • In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
      • In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
      • In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
      • In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
      • In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
      • In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
      • In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course. 
      • In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor. 

All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’  lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change. 

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

In my opinion, good mentors share five common characteristics. They…

        • Care for the people they coach
        • Observe their attitudes, behaviour, and performance
        • Align them with their strengths for peak performance
        • Communicate and give feedback about their performance
        • Help them to improve their lives and performance 

Please note that the first letter of each characteristic spells “coach

The process of growing with the help of a mentor usually follows this pattern: It begins with awareness. You realize that you need help and that following yourself is not a viable option for effective personal growth. When a person comes to that realization, one of two things can happen. The first is that the person’s pride swells up and he cannot bring himself to ask another person for advice. This is a common reaction. However, to keep from looking ignorant, they almost always ensure their own ignorance.

The other reaction to awareness is to humble yourself and say, “I need your help.” That decision not only leads to greater knowledge, but it also often develops maturity. It reinforces that people need one another [- not just when they are young and starting out, but their entire lives. 

Chuck Swindoll in “The Finishing Touch” states…

“Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken.

Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited.

Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…

You guessed it. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. 

To make this thing called life work, we gotta lean and support. And relate and respond. And give and take. And confess and forgive. And reach out and embrace. And release and rely…

Since none of us is a whole, independent, self-sufficient, super-capable, all-powerful hotshot, let’s quit acting like we are. Life’s lonely enough without our playing that silly role. 

The game’s over. Let’s link up.”