Mentoring is a popular topic these days. Questions about what is mentoring, how to find a mentor, or how to be a mentor surface often in the conversations that I have with women. To understand what mentoring may look like in your life, it’s important first to know what it really is. A mentor, according to, is “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.”[1] Another way to think of a mentor is one who coaches. If you think about it from a coach perspective, sometimes coaching occurs through personal interaction one-to-one, and sometimes coaching occurs in smaller or larger groups. The term mentor is used often in professional work as someone who teaches or coaches another person on how to do a job, yet mentoring can be spiritual when it is for the purpose of teaching someone to follow Jesus.
The Bible gives a lot of great examples of mentoring. One of my favorites is the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth found in Luke 1:39-56. Mary found herself in a bit of a jam. She really needed encouragement. While we don’t know exactly why she went to see her cousin Elizabeth, perhaps she had heard about Elizabeth’s unusual pregnancy story and thought Elizabeth would understand. What we do know is that she went to see Elizabeth, and Elizabeth encouraged her. What’s interesting is that Mary stayed with Elizabeth a few months and then went home. Sometimes mentoring relationships last for many years, and then sometimes they last for a short season. God brings people into our lives for a specific time to teach us a specific lesson or give encouragement right when we need it.

Mentoring relationships are fluid and will look different in each unique connection. Often the immediate image of a mentor is someone who meets with you weekly/bi-weekly over a cup of coffee. That is definitely one way mentoring can occur, but there are many other ways for mentoring to occur as well. Mentoring can occur through a small discipleship group, through a Bible study, through ministry service, through reading books, through observation of spiritually mature women, or especially in the seminary setting, through the classes offered.

Here are a few tips to think about in finding a mentor and being a mentor:

1) Take Initiative –

Typically in the mentoring relationships I have experienced, I have sought to get to know the person whom I was interested in learning from. When I first got to seminary, I knew I needed to find a church. I had been highly involved in my church in college, and I immediately felt a sense of need to plug in. So, I got connected with a church and began volunteering with the student ministry. While volunteering, I ended up meeting several faculty wives who had teenagers in the ministry. I didn’t really go to church with the idea that I would meet potential mentors. However, as I got plugged in to the ministry where God wanted me to serve, I developed relationships and began to learn from the ladies involved in the ministry.

Don’t let an introverted nature or fear be an excuse from meeting people and getting connected. If anyone could use that as an excuse, it could definitely be me. I am an introvert by nature, but I have never let that stop me from getting connected and being involved with what God wants me to do. Don’t wait for an invitation. Jump right in and plug in.

2) Just Ask! –

If you are interested in getting to know a more seasoned woman better, first pray about talking to her. Then ask her if you can meet together some. If an opportunity does not work out in the immediate future, you can always check back, or the Lord may lead you to someone else who can work it out right now. Pray that God would guide you to the people you need to learn from during the current season you find yourself.

3) Be a Mentor –

Mentoring is a process of learning from those who go before, while also teaching those who come behind. Women often think they need to have it all figured out before mentoring someone. Yet there will never be a time when we have it all figured out until we see the Lord face to face (1 Cor. 13:12)! There will always be people a little ahead and a little behind us on the journey. We have a responsibility to teach those who are coming behind us.

When you think about the different ways mentoring can occur, think about your life and all of the women who have poured into your life thus far. Even if you have recently become a Christian, I would imagine that you can think about women who have planted seeds in your life. More than likely, someone has helped you along the way on the Christian journey. Think about those women and take the time to thank them today.

Dr. Emily Dean serves as Director of Women’s Academic Programs & Organizations at NOBTS.

[1]“Mentor,”, accessed March 19, 2019,