Written by Ophelia Wen
Why is it Important to Have a Mentor?
Do you have a mentor in your life? Whether your mentor pertains to your career or to your relationship with God, having a mentor can make a significant difference in your life.
I found Christ for the first time as a high school student in 2008. As the first Christian in my family and having virtually no friends or acquaintances who shared the faith, I relied on my spiritual mentor, Sheri, quite a lot. God had used Sheri in my life to bring me to Him, and she was the same person who led me in the ‘sinner’s prayer’ where I gave my life to Christ. For the next six months, Sheri eagerly answered my questions about the Bible, prayed for me constantly and continued to check in on me. We would meet regularly face-to-face and she would pray for me, share Scripture with me, help me study the Bible.
Having Sheri’s help as a mentor was what helped set the foundation for my faith. Imagine if I had stumbled into those difficult questions alone and did not have someone to turn to. Being able to research an answer on Google is one thing, but having someone there to be able to discuss that question with you in an actual conversation is another.
Besides providing support and being able to tackle some of life’s harder questions with you, your mentor is the one who keeps you accountable. Your mentor should be someone who you feel comfortable sharing your struggles with, and who, in your next meeting, should ask you about your progress towards overcoming that struggle. I have had several spiritual mentors since Sheri, and each one has helped keep me accountable in my struggles and goals for my relationship with Christ. The author of Ecclesiastes says “For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Eccl. 4:9)
You are not meant to go through this journey with Christ alone. Having a mentor is having someone there who you can bounce ideas off of and who can encourage you in those tougher periods of life. And as you grow in your relationship with God, one day you may even mentor another person as well.
What about a mentor for your career or business? When I was a sophomore in college, I recruited for a summer leadership program with a Big 4 public accounting firm. The summer leadership programs were more competitive than internships or full-time positions, and recruiting for Big 4 tends to be more competitive as well. During this time, I met a mentor from the firm whom I met with several times to prepare for Meet the Firms (an event where all accounting students can come to network with professionals from accounting firms) and who helped me polish my resume, cover letter and interview skills. As someone who went through recruiting and got an offer with the firm that I wanted to be with, he gave me advice on how to do well in each stage of the recruiting process. Because of his help, I gained an offer for the summer leadership program, which led to a subsequent internship offer. After my internship, I signed a contract to start full-time with the firm one year from now. I’ve some so far compared to when I first started recruiting. When I started recruiting, I knew almost nothing about the recruiting process. My interview was printed in blue font and, I once had to ask an interviewer to define what she meant by “hobbies. However, because of the help of the mentors that I’ve met along the way, I have mentored other students who have also gotten offers. Being able to get mentored professionally has helped me to build an invaluable network of friends and equip me with the knowledge I need to succeed in my future career.
To find a mentor, think about the people in your life who you admire and look up to. Is there someone at church who others usually turn to when they need more encouragement or have questions about the Bible? Is there someone at work whose determination and work ethic inspires you? Creating a mentor and mentee relationship is as easy as asking your potential mentor for coffee or for lunch so you can learn from their experiences. Taking the initiative to reach out to them and continuing to cultivate a relationship is an investment that can pay off for you immeasurably more.
If you want to find a professional mentor in a field you’re interested in, you can try reaching out to others on LinkedIn or ask your pastor or friends at church if they know someone who would be interested. You never know who someone knows!