Some of the greatest periods of spiritual growth came out of seasons where I engaged with a Christian mentor. I first found a Christian mentor when I was serving in youth ministry. The types of behaviors and circumstances that my girls were dealing with was beyond my experience. I needed to find someone who could mentor me so that I could mentor them. It was in this season that I began an intentional search for help. Here are the tips I recommend to find a Christian mentor.
Tips to find a Christian mentor.
Determine why you want a mentor.
There are many good people in the world that can offer guidance in different areas so you need to answer why you want a mentor in the first place. I needed someone who had wisdom and experience in counseling young girls. How about you? Do you desire more peace? Do you want to parent in a godly manner? Do you need encouragement to do something you are afraid of doing? How about launching a business? Do you need help navigating a failing marriage? Setting your own goals will help you determine the “why” then you start looking for the “who”.
After you understand what you are hoping to learn from your Christian mentor then you need to pray to find them. Pray that God would reveal a person or couple that will help you. As you pray write down anyone that comes to mind. Once you have a short list of people evaluate if they appear to have the thing you are looking for.
Watch them. Do you like them?
If you want a mentor because you want a job like the or a platform like them you will end up frustrated. As you consider approaching them as a mentor make sure that you want to become like them. If there are individuals that you admire but don’t want to become like them, remove them from your list. This is a person you want to emulate in your own life.
Ask for the Holy Spirit to open a door to a mentoring conversation.
Why do I recommend having this “pause” in the process? It’s so you get the right mentor in the right season at the right time. I know that I have rushed into engaging with a mentor only to find they really didn’t have the time to commit. It felt awkward for me and for them. While asking for the Holy Spirit to lead isn’t a guarantee you won’t have setbacks it does improve your outcomes.
Ask them to coffee.
This is the precursor to asking them to mentor you. It’s a “get to know you” meeting. Think of it as an informal interview where you present your dilemma (organically in casual conversation of course). Let them share their thoughts and evaluate how they respond. Once the meeting is finished decide how it went. Do you see them as a person who could genuinely help you move forward? Do you think it is a good relational fit? I have engaged potential mentors that are brilliant but their style is not what works for me. Think about these things as you consider asking them the big question!
Ask them to mentor you.
The most common mistake I hear from women who are looking for a mentor is that they never actually asked the person. The likelihood that your desired mentor is going to approach you to pour their time, effort and resources into you is slim to none. However, many people just need to be asked.
Be proactive and follow-up.
It is not the mentor’s job to follow-up with you and schedule meetings etc. It is up to the mentee to proactively pursue building a relationship with their mentor. When you make the initial ask, probe to find out how often would it be ok to meet or have a phone call. Then schedule a consistent pattern based on their answer. Be persistent in the beginning until an easy rhythm begins to form.
Evaluate the relationship.
After you have met with your Christian mentor several times you should assess the fruit. Do you feel you have grown? Are you learning? Do you get uplifted and encouraged? These are indicators that the relationship is a healthy one and you should continue to develop it. If you are not seeing much fruit or it has proven to be extremely difficult to get your mentor to engage then it is time to break off the (mentor/mentee) relationship.
Be willing to be mentored from afar.
I have several “distant” Christian mentors. These are people that I don’t know personally but I desire to emulate their life. These are powerful women of faith that are writers, speakers, and podcasters some of whom you would know by name. I don’t have access to them directly but I can engage with them through social media, books, and listening to their content. Michael Hyatt offers some other suggestions on how to find a mentor.
Finding a good Christian mentor is a process. Developing a fruitful relationship where someone agrees to coach you through a season requires commitment from both you and the mentor. Be patient. Make sure you have clear goals, prayerfully select the person, wait for the right timing and make the ask. A Christian mentor can help you build faith habits that can change your life. I want to encourage you not to give up looking if you still haven’t found the right fit. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with mentors? What did they help you do? How were they good, bad, awful? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply.
My husband and I have almost always attended a large church but have been able to find our people and make it feel like home. Our first church home was Oasis LA which at the time had an average service size of about 6000. Then we moved abroad and attended Hillsong in London which had a whopping 10k attendees per weekend across all campuses. We currently go to Hillsong Church in Phoenix which hosts just over 8k each week. It’s easy to get lost when there are so many faces in the crowd. In every church we were able to find friends and feel connected to what was happening. We learned a few tips that help to make a big church feel small.
What to do when you feel like a number at church.
Arrive Early, Stay Late.
It can be really tempting to sneak in after the first worship song and leave before the service ends. Afterall, you want to beat the brunch crowd right? If you want brunch...eat brunch. If you want a community in a huge mega church...hang around. The more you loiter in the lobby the more likely you are to make a connection. Hosts are typically your best bet to find out what’s happening in the life of the church. They are most available before the rush to get through the doors or after the mass exodus once service is dismissed. Try to have a meaningful conversation for three straight weeks before you decide if this is a place you can get plugged in or not.
Sit in the same spot each week.
How do you become a “regular” at a restaurant or bar? You go to the same place on the same day at nearly the same time consistently. Over time the hostesses, bartenders, and servers will start to recognize you and call you by name. The same is true in church. When you sit in the same spot you will begin to notice some similar faces week after week. This is a chance to get to know them. If you really want to up the game, after a few weeks invite some church “neighbors” to lunch!
Take a class.
If there is a new-to-church class or a bible study that sounds interesting, sign up! Even if you have already gone over similar material. Classes are perfect environments to find like minded individuals that are seeking the same thing or in the same seasons of life. Alex and I have found some of our greatest friends in life from our pre-marriage course we took. Over 14 years later and we are still regularly interacting.
Join a small group.
Most large churches have some version of a small group. We call ours “Connect Groups,” because that is what they are intended to do is to connect people. Find out how you can get in touch with a small group that sounds interesting. For example, if you are a new parent find out if there is a young families connect group? This is one of the best ways to help you not feel like a number at church. Eventually, you will know people, sit with them, go to lunch after service, celebrate with them etc.
If you want the quickest and probably the best thing to do when you feel like a number at church. Offer to volunteer on a team. Alex and I make a habit of serving in our church in whatever area there is a need. When we moved to each new church we introduced ourselves to hosts and asked how we can get involved serving. As soon as we got plugged into a team we were put in touch with leaders of the church. When you know the leaders of a church you no longer feel like a number. In addition to this benefit we also were some of the first to know when new events and opportunities were coming up in church life. When you serve you become an “insider”!
Big churches are intimidating. However, if you are willing to put yourself out there and get to know a few people a big church can begin to feel like your home. The beauty of a large church is that they have big numbers of people! It’s easier to find your tribe when there are more folks to choose from. Start by hanging out before and after service and sit in the same area for a few weeks. Try and find a small group or class to meet people in a similar season or geographic location to you. Lastly, and most importantly consider serving on a team. If you take these steps I am confident you will stop feeling like a number at church. How have you found your place in a a large church? What was the thing that helped you get plugged in? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Habits of friendship I've learned from my husband
My friends today might find this shocking but I wasn’t a great friend before I met my husband, Alex. I was socially awkward, distant, and aloof. I struggled with building strong lasting friendships. Let’s put it to you this way I was only a bridesmaid in one wedding and that was for my sister. (Obligatory maid of honor position) There are a few habits I picked up from Alex who is a master at making and keeping friends!
Alex has a habit of reaching out to his friends. When he thinks about them he sends a text or calls. He doesn’t wait for an opportune time because he knows he will forget. Even if it has been awhile he braves the awkwardness. This one habit has helped him maintain friendships for decades. He proactively communicates with his friends. He also interacts with their social media feeds. He doesn’t just “like” their posts. He comments so they know he loves what they are up to. This is the lowest level of reaching out though. If you want to be a real friend you must communicate directly with them.
Not sure what to say? Here are a few go to phrases that I use just to let someone know I’m thinking about them.
Be responsive and answer the phone.
The second part of communicating is responding. When a friend sends you a message, reply right away. There is nothing more annoying than sending an invite and hearing nothing. A quick, “Sounds like fun, let me check my calendar.” is perfect. Or if it is just a nice message send an appropriate emoji. Responsiveness also calls for you to pick up the phone when someone calls you. I was the worst at picking up the phone when anyone called. I waited to see what they wanted before I called them back. Alex picks up the phone every-time no matter whether he recognizes the number or not. This habit makes your friends feel important.
Invite them to be part of your life.
Alex is incredibly invitational and includes people in the things he loves to do. I always worried whether someone would want to do the stuff I was doing so I didn’t invite them. Rather than be rejected I withheld the invitation. What I have learned is that MOST people will come along just to be with you and have something interesting to do. Creating a habit of inviting people to do life with you helps build stronger friendships. Shared experiences create a pattern and culture of doing life together. Inviting people to do stuff with me is still the hardest habit for me...but I am getting better.
Alex is one of the best encouragers I have ever met. He has helped me continue to pursue my dreams when I felt my lowest. He champions his friends’ dreams and goals. He listens carefully to their ideas and gives honest feedback but ultimately encourages them to go for it. He is genuine in his encouragement which is why it is so powerful. The habit of lifting up your friends is key in building solid and lasting relationships. An encouraging friend can help us keep going when we want to give up.
It goes without saying that friendship should be fun. However, some friendships are taxing, hard, and draining? It’s time to set boundaries and choose friends that you enjoy spending time with. Life is too short to waste time with people that are boring, sad, and cranky. Alex doesn’t spend time with people he cannot have a good time with. That’s not to say we haven’t had experienced tear-filled evenings with friends going through tough times, it just means that those are not the norm. We, like most people, prioritize hanging out with friends that are fun.
Alex is a fabulous friend. I am eternally grateful that he has helped me become a better friend. I attribute my incredible friendships with my girlfriends now to the habits he has shown me. I am a proactive friend and reach out when I think of someone. I try to respond to text messages and phone calls. I’m working on including people in the events and activities I like to do. Alex and I cheer for our friends and celebrate their victories. Because we have healthy friendships we laugh, cry, play games, talk politics, and everything in between. Friends are what make life enjoyable so choose some good peeps and practice these habits to build and maintain these life-giving relationships. Which of these habits is hardest for you?
People ask me regularly what I do for exercise. My typical response is, “I do lots of things including weights, hiking, running, and yoga.” The response is usually a confused defeated look. As though I were hiding the magical routine that keeps me in shape. The real reason I stay physically fit is because I am DISCIPLINED in exercising between four and five days per week. I choose different types of exercise so my body never gets complacent. It makes sense that my body stays in shape when I maintain this habit.
Our spiritual body just like our physical body. It needs a workout regime to stay strong. Spiritual disciplines are the activities we practice to strengthen our faith. They are habits we develop to live a full life. When we don’t practice spiritual disciplines we can expect weak spiritual performance. Even more than being physically fit I desire to be spiritual fit. Here are five of my favorite spiritual disciplines that will strengthen your faith.
Five Spiritual Disciplines That Strengthen Your Faith
#1 - Study the Word
This is by far the most important of the spiritual disciplines because it’s the foundation of spiritual fitness. Studying the word of God is like training your core. When your abs and back are strong you can accomplish a lot more and you are protected from injury. The same is true of studying God’s word. It strengthens your spiritual core and protects you from harm.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3: 1-2 ESV)
When I say study I am not just talking about reading the bible although that is a good start. When you were in school how did you study? You read, took notes, then memorized facts that you knew would be on the test right? This is how I study God’s word.
#2 - Prayer
Prayer is spiritual communication between man and God. It is the practice that allows us to share our needs as well as our thankfulness with God. It also is how God shares His thoughts with us. This is the spiritual discipline that we are to practice at all times.
...pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
God wants to communicate with us at all times and about all things. Prayer is like lifting dumbbells. At first we might start with a 5 minute session. It’s lightweight. However as we get stronger in our prayer life we will increase our time, power, and breakthrough we experience. Don’t feel the pressure to start a habit of prayer that is three hours long. Start by creating an intentional habit to pray. Just start lifting the weights. Here are some great resources on prayer that have helped me grow in the area of prayer.
#3 - Worship
Worship is the act of honoring God. This is our workout mixtape. Have you ever tried to workout to slow classical piano? No? Me either. So don’t try to lead a dynamic power-filled spiritual life if you are not prepared to praise. Worship changes the atmosphere. It ushers in an attitude of gratitude, awe, and humility. I find it difficult to worship when I am angry, frustrated, or sad. Emotions the enemy to my spirit would love for me to wallow in. However, when I choose to worship those toxic emotions roll off easier. Don’t be intimidated if you are not musically inclined. God inhabits the praises of his people, so to Him you sound amazing! #carpoolkarokewithjesus
#4 - Generosity
Giving our time, money, and resources is a challenging spiritual discipline. It requires us to trust we will have all we need. It’s like signing up for a marathon. We don’t know how we are going to finish 26 miles but we start with one. When we practice generosity we mirror the nature of God. It can be daunting at first. I believe God wants us to adopt a generous lifestyle because it sets us apart. It points people to Him. I heard one pastor say, “I’ve never been able to out-give God.” I couldn’t say it better than that. Just imagine if every Christian in the world decided to try to “out-give” God? Our world would change overnight.
The world of the generous gets larger and larger; (Proverbs 11:24 MSG)
If you are looking at your bank account and there isn’t anything to give, ask God to show you where you can begin to become generous? Trust me when I say that we ALL have something to share, which leads me to my final spiritual discipline that strengthens your faith.
#5 - Serve Others
Jesus came to serve. He could have come as a mighty king establishing his reign with power and might, he chose to humble himself. If you want to be first in the new kingdom, be the least in hierarchy here on earth. If you think you are too sick, poor, or unskilled to serve here are just a few of the thousands of ways you can help others.
This list is infinite, because God’s servant-hearted spirit is infinite. You might be asking “how” all these spiritual disciplines will strengthen your faith? They all stretch us in some way. Whether it is in understanding, focus, rest, trust in resources, or in humility. These five spiritual disciplines when practiced regularly will set your feet on a solid foundation to change your life and the lives of those you influence. How do I stay spiritually fit? These are my five favorite exercises. Don’t look confused...remember it’s not WHAT I’m doing, it is being DISCIPLINED in practicing them regularly.
How to determine an opportunity from a distraction.
Life presents us with many paths. It can be challenging which direction to go when the options are similar. I have often been asked the question, “Would you be interested in...?” From starting a small group, joining a mission trip, or moving to another country this question is often followed by excitement or uncertainty. Some decisions are easier than others but I have learned a few ways to determine an opportunity from a distraction.
Prayer is how we communicate with God. It seems obvious that we would pray about opportunities that are being presented to us. However, I am guilty of asking a friend what they think only for them to ask, “Have you prayed about it?” I cringe at that response but I know praying is the first thing I need to do when given a chance to step into a new thing. I’m not talking about flippantly saying, “God what do you want me to do?" I'm talking about strategically seeking input from God in prayer. Here are a few questions to consider.
Does it align with the word of God?
God is not contradictory. God-opportunities align with his mission and purpose found in the Bible. You might be saying, yes but the Bible doesn’t have a section that outlines exactly my situation. It’s true that finding your exact situation might be challenging but it is worth digging in. If you are considering a new job do a search for “New Job Scripture.” I’m confident that one will stand out and resonate with you. God is not about confusion. If you seek to know His will and follow His plan, He will make it clear.
Seek counsel from trusted friends.
When you are considering whether something is an opportunity or a distraction it is helpful to present it to a trusted friend. Be careful you don’t select someone just based on what you suspect they will say. In other words, if you dislike your current job and you really WANT this new opportunity to release you don’t ask your best friend who lives in the neighborhood of the new job. They will not necessarily give you an unbiased opinion.
“Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)
Choose someone who you respect and who will be honest with you.
Does it align with your goals?
If you have a dream or goal that you feel God has revealed to you it is important to evaluate whether or not this new opportunity will bring you closer to it or delay it. Sometimes we have divine detours that teach us new things that ultimately lead to our goals but we have to be careful not to slow our momentum by saying yes to every new chance we are offered. Your vision or purpose that God has buried inside you is a very good guide to determine whether something is a God-opportunity or a distraction.
Refuse to believe the TIME lie.
I squirm when a “chance of a lifetime” knocks on my door but has a deadline. I have to fight hard against the lie that if I don’t jump right away that I will NEVER have this chance again. God exists outside of time and space. His opportunities are not limited by a superficial deadline. It is important that we move into actively deciding whether we are going to move forward or pass. However, evaluate the timeline on the weight of the decision. For example, deciding whether or not you are going to serve at the food pantry tomorrow shouldn’t be a big decision. However, deciding whether or not you are going to move your family overseas to start a mission is a massive decision and needs ample time to confirm. I love the story of Gideon because he needed extra time and confirmation to step into a big opportunity. If you are facing a big opportunity, take your time.
Being a follower of Jesus has opened so many doors in my life. Some have been God-ordained opportunities that led to amazing growth in my own life and the lives of those around me. Others were cleverly disguised distractions that led to frustration, delay, and unnecessary stress. I’m much better at determining whether it is an opportunity or distraction these days. I pray strategically and benchmark my answers against what I find in the Bible. If I am still unsure I ask trusted friends and evaluate if it aligns with my God-breathed goals and dreams. I don’t let time pressure me into making a rash decision. God gives me all the time I need to proceed with His plans enthusiastically and with confidence. How do you determine if something is a God-opportunity or distraction? If you found this helpful I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Happy decision-making!