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When I was transitioning from the military to the private sector, I interviewed for several jobs. I was thrilled when I received three job offers, all of which promised a hopeful future. The problem: I didn't know what I wanted my future to be. One of the interviewers, who would become a dear friend and mentor, said, "Consider this opportunity as your transition job. You don't have to turn this job into a career, but you can work hard, learn a lot, build your resume, and use this time to determine what you really want to do."

It was great advice, which I followed. Two and a half years later, I resigned from that job and enrolled as a full-time seminary student. Over the course of several years, she helped me flesh out my personal, professional, and spiritual needs, and I will forever be grateful for that job opportunity and her mentorship.

Often we don't know what we truly need. An effective mentor can gently guide us through those times of uncertainties in life. But finding the right mentor can be a challenge. I found mentors simply by looking around and asking the right questions. Here are some strategies I've used to connect with mentors.

Be Specific

I watched a woman named Stefani shepherd others in prayer for a couple years. She and I had several conversations, and when I asked her to mentor me, she cautiously replied, "I don't know what I could teach you."

"Teach me how to pray," I responded. I was not looking for a second mom, or for her to invite me over for dinners, or to invest lots of time. Like the disciples asked of Jesus, I wanted her to offer direction on how to pray.

Over several months she taught me how to pray through the Scriptures. She taught me about the use of prayer in spiritual warfare. She taught me about prayer as a means of praise, and about the hard work of intercession. In those precious few months, God knit our spirits together. Now when she is going through a spiritual struggle, I intercede on her behalf and vice versa.

Approaching someone for mentoring is daunting, especially if that person is a stranger. But if you're specific about what you're hoping to gain from the relationship, you'll be amazed at how willing people are to help.

A few months ago I met Mae. I thought to myself, Wow! I could really learn a lot from her. Shortly after that I emailed her and asked if she would mentor me. I expressed pleasure in meeting her, thanked her for taking the time to speak with me, briefly explained my current situation, and then made the "ask," which was specific. I requested a one-hour phone conference once a month for the next year for a particular purpose, which I articulated in bullet points in my email. Within a few short days, she responded and said, "Yes!"

Think Creatively

Psychologist Robert J. Wicks has written that we need a variety of influencers in our lives. According to Wicks we need prophets, cheerleaders, ...

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Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a full-time student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC campus (Christian Leadership). She also serves as co-director of the women's mentoring ministry at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a blogger, a writer, and the founder and president of His Glory on Earth Ministries.

From Issue:Mentoring, December 2013 | Posted: December 6, 2013

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Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Natasha Robinson

March 14, 2014  12:59pm

"Touching the Holy" is the name of Robert Wicks book.

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Laura McLean

December 17, 2013  1:52pm

Interesting ideas. Natasha, do you have a citation for the Robert J. Wicks material you mentioned briefly?

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Carmille Akande

December 17, 2013  12:16pm

This was really helpful!

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