Getting Real

I want a mentor or an accountability partner. How do I find one?
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Q. I want a mentor or an accountability partner. How do I find one?

A. A mentor is usually an older person who, through their experience and knowledge, can help guide and counsel you. We see them in the Bible. Paul encouraged Timothy to be all that God desired him to be. And Eli taught Samuel how to hear the voice of God. Both men used their wisdom to show their young friends how to best live out their faith.

How do you find one? I usually look for a man who I think can offer me God-honoring wisdom and who lives a life of integrity. I ask if we can go get a bite to eat and I ask him questions. I start learning about his life and what he thinks about the things I'm going through. If it goes well, I ask if we could get together again. After a while the relationship develops to the point where I ask if he'll become my mentor. Talk to your parents or pastor about who they'd recommend.

As for an accountability partner, this is usually someone close to your age and they ask you straightforward and probing questions to make sure you are on track and you do the same for them. The whole idea is for you to both "confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16). They know the things you struggle with and ask you questions about how you are dealing with that sin. They make sure you've been praying and reading your Bible.

How do you find a partner like this? Like a mentor, you need someone of your same sex who you can be real with. Usually, this starts with trust and friendship and an agreement to speak honestly and regularly check in with each other. Your partnership may just be with one friend or with a group of people. I attend a weekly Bible study/accountability group and have one longtime friend I meet with once every two months.

One caution: It takes a very long time to form a completely open and trusting accountability partnership. Start by asking a person or group to commit meeting regularly with you for at least the rest of the school year. Ask your youth leader to help you form a group or suggest a partner. In fact, that youth worker may be a good prospect to be your mentor.

Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.

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