In this era of family members moving far away from each other the idea of mentoring has been lost to most young people. In fact many young adults believe they need to show their adulthood by having all of the answers for their lives themselves. There is a false teaching in our culture that you should follow your heart because it knows what's best for you. However, I am old enough to have seen choices of the heart and how they turned out years later. I can confidently say that the Bible is correct when it states, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9. No one makes choices that they think are wrong but so many choices lead to terrible heartache.
This is why choosing a mentor to give you assistance and even just be a sounding board can be so helpful. The trouble is most of us seek counsel from our friends who aren't any wiser than we are. So how can I choose a wise mentor?
A wise mentor should have at least these qualities:
MORE YEARS OF LIFE EXPERIENCE- An opinion is only as good as the accuracy and the broadness of the data it is based on. A longer time of living in this world offers more experiences which may broaden the data base.
AN EXAMPLE OF A LIFE YOU WOULD LIKE YOURS TO BE LIKE- Be sure to look at this from all angles. A person may have the career success you want but are they as successful in their relationships as you would want? Is their life so narrowly focused that when you take a good look at it they don't actually have a life.
HAVE THEY RASIED SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN? - This also needs careful consideration as there are wonderful parents and mentors who have done all they could for their children but some still decided to make wrong personal choices. Look at the kind of parents they were and ask yourself would I have wanted them to be my Dad or Mom? Were they balanced in loving discipline?
DO THEY HUMBLY LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES? - Are they able and willing to share the lessons they have learned in words you can understand?
WHAT IS THEIR CONCESPT OF AUTHORITY? Are they cooperatively under authority themselves and do they use their own authority over others with justice and mercy? Do they work within boundaries but also think for themselves?
HAVE THEY EVEIDENCED THAT THEY BELIEVE THEIR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IS A SERIOUS THING? - Do they live up to commitments and can their word be depended on?
DO THEIR LIFE SKILLS INCLUDE DAILY LIFE PRACTICALITY? - Many highly educated people couldn't clean a clogged drain if their life depended on it. A good mentor should have a balance of practical resources here.
ARE THEY A GOOD LISTENER? - This is a very important quality. The Bible says that only a fool answers a thing before he fully hears it. Listening and asking questions before giving advice is a valuable skill and very necessary in a good mentor.
You may not find someone who has all of these characteristics. But don't trust their advice if they don't have a majority of these qualities. When you find a good mentor you have a true treasure and personal support that will give you a huge advantage in many areas of life.
One word to the older generation. You may not think you could ever be a mentor but if you have taught a child to tie their shoes, or if you can thoroughly clean a bathroom or fix a leaky faucet you have something to pass on. If you have lived through a hardship or great loss in life the younger generation needs to hear how you survived and what you learned. It is very clear in the Bible that God expects the older generation to teach the next. You don't have to offer but if they ask, don't say no!