When I think about the people outside of my family who have influenced me the most, my mentors are some of the first who come to mind. Without the amazing women who took the time to listen, share their wisdom, laugh with me, cry with me and open their lives to me, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.
We all have areas in our lives where we could use the help of someone with more experience and knowledge. There are many places where you can look for a mentor — from the workplace to the athletic field. Here are a few of the more common contexts for mentoring relationships.
Finding a professional mentor can open up untapped career benefits. A mentor can help you gain the skills and connections you need to advance in your line of work and even be a personal encouragement. Look for someone who has experience in your field and whose career choices you respect.
Having a mentor can be a great way to make some positive changes. Mentoring relationships are great for any time in life, but they can be especially helpful during specific seasons. Mentors can be a source of encouragement and wisdom when you’re entering a new stage of life, like living on your own for the first time, getting married, or having kids. Mentors can also provide support during challenging times, like when you’re grieving or struggling in a relationship.
We’re all on a spiritual journey, and it’s helpful to find someone who can guide you on your path. Jesus practiced a form of spiritual mentorship called discipleship. Discipleship is about learning, observing and living out your faith with someone who is more spiritually mature. It often involves studying the Bible, helping others and being equipped to pass on what you’ve learned to others.
Finding a mentor isn’t about finding someone who knows it all or who’s done everything right. In fact, you can learn a lot from someone who is honest about mistakes. It’s about finding someone who is willing to invest his time and offer her experiences. It’s about finding someone who can walk with you on your journey and help you take the next steps you need for growth.
You benefit even more when you take what you learn and pass it on by becoming a mentor yourself. Marilyn, a retired school teacher who mentors young women, is quick to share that she learns just as much from these women as they do from her.
“To teach is to learn twice,” Marilyn says. She learns more from the individual insights of these women each time she meets with them.
Part of the beauty of mentoring is that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and everyone has something unique to offer. Just as the person you choose to be your mentor doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be perfect to become a mentor.
By sharing your life and what you’ve learned with someone younger or who has less experience, you can expand the impact of your mentoring relationship. I’ve found that it’s not just the people who mentored me who changed my life. The people I’ve mentored over the years have changed my life for the better as well.
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