Over the years I have mentored a good number of young men who have successfully moved into leadership positions and become influential in the Kingdom. It is always rewarding to see young men grow, develop, mature, and begin to make a difference in the world.
Many young people ask if I would mentor them. Recently I have even had several older men who already have a profession (lawyers) ask me to mentor them in spiritual things. In the past I would simply give a blanket and immediate yes. Why? Because I love to invest in people and see the Kingdom receive a return on the time and effort I have invested.
However, many of the young people I agreed to mentor in the past simply never put the effort into learning, growing, and maturing. They want to be connected to me and the ministry; they want to travel with me; they want me to be available to them if and when they should have a question. But, they are not entering into the available mentoring relationship. The key word is ‘relationship.”
We mentor within an established relationship. And we are to mentor those who have proved themselves and thus have the obvious potential to give the mentor and the Kingdom a return on their investment. Mentoring is more than simply having me ‘available’ when they need me, hanging around and being with me when I am in their area, and being part of the ministry team. It is intentional, relational, and requires regular personal contact and involvement.
So, I recently have narrowed down what I look for in a person whom I might consider as someone to mentor and thus entering into a mentoring relationship with. This has certainly narrowed down the number of people I would say I was mentoring. And, eliminated a lot of coffees which were, in many ways, a nice social entity but really a waste of my time at this season in my life.
When deciding to mentor someone I am looking for:
1> Someone who makes things happen
I pay less attention to what people are saying and more attention to what they do. As I watch what people do I quickly note those who are making things happen in their life and focus on them. These people don’t wait for someone to give them resources – they go out and find them. They don’t wait for someone to give them an opportunity – they create opportunities even when none existed. They never make excuses – they simply work hard and find a way to make things happen.
2> They see and seize opportunities
Many people are able to recognize an opportunity after it has already passed them by. But seeing opportunities coming, that’s a different matter. Opportunities are seldom labeled. So, someone worth mentoring is someone who has learned what an opportunity looks like and how to seize them. The best people to mentor are those who make it their personal responsibility to go out and find new opportunities.
I travel a lot. And, when I arrive at my destination someone is suppose to be there to pick me up. Most times I have never met the person and they don’t know me. There are two ways you can go about picking up someone you don’t know from the airport.
One way is to make a sign with the name of the person you’re expecting, stand near the baggage claim area, hold up the sign, and wait for the person to find you. If he sees you, great. If he doesn’t, you keep waiting.
The other way is to find out what the person looks like, position yourself strategically near the right gate, and search for him until you find him.
There is a world of difference between the two approaches. And, the person you should mentor is the one who goes looking – not the one who stands and waits.
3> They influence others
Everything rises and falls on leadership. That’s true because a person’s ability to make things happen in and through others depends entirely on his or her ability to lead them. Without leadership there is no teamwork and people go their own way. A leader needs to know where they are going and has the ability to influence others to come with them on the journey.
So, when thinking about influencers (leaders) – those you would do well to mentor – you need to look at:
A> Who is currently influencing them? You can tell a lot about who they will influence and how they will go about doing it by knowing who their heroes and mentors are.
B> Who they currently influence? You’ll be able to judge their current level of leadership effectiveness by who they are currently influencing.
C> Is their influence increasing or decreasing? You can tell whether a person is a past leader or a potential leader by examining which direction the level of influence is going.
To be a good judge of potential leaders, don’t just see the person – see all the people that person currently influences. The greater the influence, the greater the leadership potential and the ability to get others to work together. That’s the person you want to mentor.
More next time…