Dear friends, for the past 35 years I have been a paid mentor. It has been said that once you have 10,000 hours of doing something, you have achieved a certain level of competency. Made popular by Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, the principle states that in order to become world class in any field, you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Conservatively, I have 50,000 hours professionally mentoring others. Now, at 66 years old, my life is starting a new chapter. I think of it as the “give back years.” It is time to give back to the world of mentees and mentors, and teach the craft to others.
Today, I would like to share with you, at a high level, what I have learned about this process. In doing so, I am kicking off a seven-part series. Part 1 is a Summary; Part 7 is the conclusion; Parts 2-6 are the five criteria you need to be an effective mentee.
Let’s start with the qualities of a mentor, and define what mentorship is.
QUALITIES OF A MENTOR
I’ve written a book recently where a chapter was dedicated to this subject of mentorship. There is a lot to say on the subject, and I can’t do it justice in a short blog post, beyond listing a few qualities, such as:
- Having something to offer you; if they don’t have what you want, move on.
- Willingness to meet with you; if they don’t have the time for you, move on.
- Commitment to setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries; if they can’t do that, move on.
- Expertise; if they don’t have good skills in mentoring (most don’t), move on.
- Christ’s agenda, not their own (many mentors to feed their ego); if they don’t have that, move on.
These are just some of the top qualities to look for, and in every case, if you are no longer getting what you need, move on. Mentoring is two people working together for one person’s highest and greatest good. If your mentor does not realize that – you guessed it – move on!
Recently, a mentor of mine informed me that he was following the Hebrew method of mentoring. Those who mentor others are naturally very receptive mentees. I call that state of mind being “coachable.” So, because he mentioned this, I did what any mentee should do in this case, and looked up what it means to have an Eastern-paradigm of mentorship. Here is part of what I found: “Traditional Eastern mentorship often values hierarchy, which places a strong emphasis on respect for elders and authority figures. The mentor, typically older and more experienced, is viewed with high respect, and their advice is generally not questioned openly by the mentee.” My mentor and I have been butting heads lately, I know I know why. In Western culture, there is a very different paradigm of mentorship. Not only do we question a mentor’s advice, in my opinion, we should. Mentors are limited in their purview. They are not able to see the entire picture of what you are going through. My favorite saying on this topic: “Take the best; leave the rest.” And if your mentor can’t handle that, move on.
QUALITIES OF A MENTEE
I would say that one of the key qualities of a mentee is the desire to learn from the mentor. If you don’t think a mentor of yours has anything to offer, you need to end the relationship. Most mentors are not very good, because they have never studied mentorship, don’t get a lot of practice, and don’t understand the process of growing someone at a deep level.
The qualities you need to be a great mentee are spelled out in a section of my next book, entitled Unleashing Leadership Excellence. Here are the five qualities of my research I’ve identified to ensure you are ready for transformation, which should be the output or result from effective mentorship. However, you have to be “ready” for transformation, including:
- Willingness to Change
- Desire to Change
- Courage to Change
- Humility to Change
- Discipline to Change
I have created an assessment that assesses these five factors, and I will provide them to you over the next five blog posts. Suffice it to say for today that you need all five, in great measure, to truly achieve transformation.
The area that is most important for transformation is different for everyone, but I would argue that the one we can all use to improve in is our relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as having fully attained all that Christ wants us to attain in this life. His standard is perfection. We are called to be just like Jesus Christ, perfect in every way. And of course, none of us will ever get there in this human form, and all of us will get there when we arrive in Heaven. One look into the eyes of Christ is all that it will take, and you and I will be TOTALLY TRANSFORMED. Ah, what a great day that will be!
Until we are in heaven, we will need mentors. And, others will need us to mentor them. May we all mentor others with the same skills and abilities that Christ had. May we all be as coachable as mentees as Christ was. And may all of us have mentors, and mentor others, helping Christ’s ministry leaders finish well. Amen. I believe this is God’s will in each of our lives. What do you think? I would love to hear from you on this subject. Feel free to write to me at the address below, and share your thoughts.
Your aspiring servant,
31 July 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.