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Why most people will never be great at mentorship

Mentorship sounds great. Everyone wants a coach and confidant for the many difficult decisions in life, who wouldn't? But when we are contemplating the possibility of mentorship, we mostly focus on what we get out of it. We fail to consider the cost of mentorship.

It's a lot like a financial investment, especially at first. You put in a lot of money, and over time, you reap increasing benefits from the relationship. Unfortunately, most people throw in the towel before they actually see a return on their investment.

So, Why do people quit? Why are most people not capable of being great mentors?

To continue with the banking analogy, most are simply not making a large enough investment to make a difference. Therefore there is little to no return on the investment, so the mentor and/or apprentice lose interest (pun intended). They want the benefits without the difficulty. Let me be more specific.

They don't want to sacrifice their personal time.

If you're going to make a mentorship work, you cannot guard your time too tightly. You have to bring your apprentice into your family and let them see you in your natural environment. But most people prefer to keep things in compartments. They don't like their work or church compartment interfering with their home compartment. If you want to be a part of a thriving mentorship, you have to be very free and generous with your time.

They are not willing to open their lives and be painfully transparent.

In the modern church, we have taught young leaders that vulnerability is dangerous and could give the wrong impression to those you lead. God forbid, they learn that you are human too, and you struggle just like them. A healthy mentorship requires an uncomfortable level of transparency. Sometimes the Mentor has to confess his own mistakes and struggles. Rather than discouraging the apprentice, it actually causes the bond to intensify. Confession can also give the apprentice hope that you don't have to be perfect. Plus, they get the added advantage of seeing their mentor model how to grow through challenges.

They want to teach but not learn.

If your mentor/apprentice is one-sided, both will lose interest very quickly. You may have a lot of experience and things that would benefit an apprentice. But you must also consider that they may have something to offer you as well. Give them space to differ with what you have taught them and let them try to support their beliefs. Listen carefully, sometimes they may help you adjust your beliefs or strategy that will benefit everyone. If they are still off base, respond gently and with reasonable defense.

These are just some simple ideas to help you consider how to keep your mentorship from failing before it begins. For more helpful information, Check out my book, Letters to an Apprentice, which goes on presale February 28th, 2020.


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