Does anyone else feel like there is just too much to know? I’m trying to be a grown-up, I really am. But there is just so much to understand. To balance. To take care of.
Spirituality. Physical Health. Family. Money. Taxes. Mental Health. Friends. Parenting. DIY Projects. Cultivating Passion. Service. Retirement. Politics. Debt. World Issues. Investing. Jobs. Emotional Health. Health Insurance. Car Insurance. Life Insurance. Home Insurance. Yikes – I can’t handle any more insurance! Or any more anything! I think I need a nap…
Then I notice my O magazine lying on the table. Oprah Winfrey. Now that is a woman who has this circle figured out. She has mentors. Lots of them. Why? Because we weren’t meant to be grown-ups out there on our own. God gave us this beautiful gift of a community. And community is filled with a variety of people who all have certain talents. Talents that you and I can tap into, so we can stop trying to know it all. So there really will be time for a nap. In a hammock. Because if you’re going to nap, it may as well be the best nap ever.
But I digress. What is a mentor? A mentor is someone who makes you want to be a better person and can show you how to do it. But one danger in selecting a mentor is narrowing the field to just one person. The reality is that no one has everything figured out, but everyone has something figured out. So if I can find a different person to lean on for each area I’m struggling with, then I can be surrounded by a “Dream Team” of mentors. (And spend more time napping, which, let’s be honest, is an important goal.)
Obviously, the most famous and important mentor of all is Jesus. He really does have everything figured out, since He was part of creating it, so He is my first stop for wisdom. Unfortunately, He didn’t used to be. I would spin in circles for way too long, and then finally stumble upon something Jesus said, shocked at how simple and obvious the answer is. You don’t even have to be a Bible scholar to know where to look. Google “What did Jesus say about…” and fill in any issue you are having. Let it point you to scripture, and then open your Bible and read all the context.
But after forming my initial opinion for what needs to happen based on scripture, I need guidance for how to follow through. For example, the Bible says my body is a temple, and I agree that I need to treat it as such. So the goal is to be healthy. HOW to do that in today’s fast-food, no-time world is going to require a mentor. Someone to show me the ropes. Enter Tony Horton. He’s funny, he’s passionate, and he’s figured out a plan that works so I don’t have to (thank you, thank you, thank you for P90X3). All I have to do is show up and follow through.
I have followed so many others in the same way. Spirituality? Lysa Terkeurst, Jennie Allen, Rob Bell, Francis Chan, to name a few. Money? Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Life goals? Lara Casey and Martha Beck. Lifestyle? The Minimalists. I’m not saying to just blindly follow someone because they’re famous and the masses are all chasing them.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
~ 1 John 4:1
The key is to hold up their teachings to the light of God’s Word to make sure you don’t follow someone down the wrong path. The cool thing is, I don’t have to agree with every single thing a person does or says in order to gain wisdom in a certain area. I don’t feel that Suze’s lifestyle choices are consistent with the Bible, so I don’t look to her for advice on that. But the woman knows about finances, and I would miss out on that gift if I wasted my time judging her. No one person has to be everything for me – that is Jesus’ role.
The mentors in my life are not all famous. I have noticed my circles of close family and friends work in much the same way. The wisdom of personal mentors is no less valuable than famous mentors, it just happens more quietly. I have to really tune in, which is when the very best magic happens. I watch what my parents do in almost every area. My best friend is totally involved in spirituality. My pastor guides my understanding of the Bible. My husband has taught me about courage and love and so much more. My kids teach me how to lighten up and have fun. I have a friend who is phenomenal at budgeting and getting out of debt. Another friend is a total health nut. Still another seems to have this parenting thing all figured out. Everyone brings something valuable to the table.
Ah, but it’s not all about getting something from all these sources. The most awesome thing about mentors is learning to become one yourself. Because I bet you are an expert on something, too. It doesn’t even have to be something huge. Sometimes the things that seem small are really life-altering to others. I’m no chef, but I can teach my daughter how to make spaghetti. That is a skill that alters her life – she can now create a meal to feed herself and eventually her family.
Maybe your gift is something “small” and you just need to practice sharing it. Maybe you’re already sharing it in small ways and it is time to expand on that. Maybe someone is seeking your advice, and you’re hesitating to give it because you feel unqualified. Please don’t let fear stop you from helping others.
The most rewarding part of mentoring comes from sharing your gift with someone else and watching it make a difference in the world. And finding out that you actually learned more than they did. It’s amazing how God created a system where giving multiplies exponentially into receiving. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.
Find your circle of mentors – they likely won’t be the same as mine, and that’s okay. If you want to know more about the qualities to look for in a mentor and to cultivate these tendencies in yourself, try my LinkedIn post about Role Models. And when you find great mentors, follow Oprah’s lead and share them with others!
Once you’ve relaxed, knowing that together we can figure it out, and you realize it’s all already okay, you can finally enjoy a much needed nap. (Seriously, try the hammock. It’s awesome.)