Earlier this year I attended a special leadership seminar for young leaders who were under the age 40. They gathered, by invitation only, from all across the Americas and the atmosphere was truly electric with thoughts, energy, and ideas.
My mentor, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was the keynote speaker and the concepts he shared really hit home both with me and the young leaders. The information was so valuable and insightful that I was happy to sit in on the seminar even though it was primarily designed to benefit younger leaders.
Now, I had made sure that about 60 of the young leaders that I directly mentor and/or influence were also invited too, and also that they were also able to attend this seminar. So my real excitement was for them.
I could hardly watch my bishop present for turning around in my chair to look at “my kids’” reactions to his presentation. They stood up, cried, and cheered, all while furiously taking notes on their smartphones, notepads, and electronic tablets.
After the last session of the seminar, I called all my “mentees” to the front of the room and then, one by one, my wife and I, began to pray with each and every one of them.
We cried and prayed together as we petitioned heaven that these young leaders would indeed reach and exceed their annual goals.
It was a truly powerful and personal moment and my wife and I were honored to serve them in that way.
Once we had all dried our eyes, we began to file out of the room and head to the restaurant that I’d reserved to feed our group. But while we were walking a young man that I did not know came up to me and with tears streaming down his face he said to me,
Pastor, I don’t have a mentor. What do I do?
His question haunted me because I am sure there are so many young leaders who find themselves without a mentor and they too are wondering what they should do.
I want to give you four pointers on what to do when you don’t have a good mentor.
1) Borrow a Mentor
Seek to interview some established leaders who enjoy mentoring younger leaders. An interview where you present pointed, relevant questions in just a one-hour format can yield invaluable information–without being overly burdensome to their schedule.
Remember they are often quite busy so when you are “borrowing a mentor,” try not to waste their time. Go for the jugular on the issues you would like to gain their particular insight on and move quickly.
Do some good research on the mentor before you meet with them so that you know precisely what you want to ask them. This will make the interview both fruitful for you and easy for them.
2) Rent a mentor
Invest in books, attend seminars, buy CDs, DVDs, or even sign up for the podcast of the leaders that you would like to learn from.
It’s so important that you invest in yourself before you ask anyone else to do so.
Many times I have been mentored by a book or a videotaped presentation–by people whom I have never met, many of which are dead–have spoken into my life by their books. I just had to be willing to invest the time and sometimes the money to have access to their material.
Plan trips to attend seminars, symposiums, and conferences that not only allow you to network with your peers, but to receive information that is vital to what you are desiring to do.
If you are serious about your own development, then your library and itinerary will be indicative of such.
3) Share a mentor
If you have friends, contemporaries, and colleagues who have good mentors, be bold enough to ask them what they are learning from their mentors.
Ask to review their notes or peruse their syllabi. Shuttle a question or two through your friends but only from time to time.
And where appropriate, you can ask to tag along on trips or outings they may go on with their mentor but only once a year.
But be cognizant that when you are “sharing a mentor” that if you allow your hunger for mentorship to drive you, then there is a possibility that you might dominate their moment and that will usually result in you not being invited back. So its important to stay calm, quiet, and just listen.
4) Be a mentor
While you are waiting on a mentor become one yourself, even on your current level.
Find one or two others who are younger than you to pour into the knowledge and experience that you are gaining on you journey.
Instead of just loudly lamenting your lack of mentorship, decide to give to others what you lack yourself and in the process of giving, you will find great healing.
What right does a selfish person who does not mentor have to ask someone else to mentor them? Determine to be the mentor to others that you needed.
This will actually attract mentors to you because most great mentors would rather have their wisdom multiplied generationally.
When they see that by imparting, to you they will impact others in the pipelines you have created, this becomes a good use of their time. Much more so than depositing concepts into people who have no real desire to share.
I had been actively mentoring youth leaders for eight years, before I even met the man who would come to eventually mentor me into my next levels.
So I really understand what it feels like to not have a mentor even while you are serving others as one.
But it’s imperative to sow those seeds into your now for they will reap a great harvest in your future.