A good coach can make a huge difference in your development as a runner. Likewise, finding the right “spiritual coach” which we will call a “mentor” is important in your pursuit of spiritual growth. Below I talk about how to find the right mentor and what to look for in your selection process.
Let’s begin by saying that not everyone is a good coach, teacher, and mentor. Some people just have the gift of being knowledgeable, understanding, and wise while knowing how to pass these things on to their pupils. The Book of Proverbs talks about the beginning of knowledge is “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). Find someone who has had a long and strong relationship with the Lord but most specifically look to see if they “fear” the Lord. Someone who fears the Lord will be humble, compassionate, loving, and seek the Spirit of God and the Word of God when instructing and teaching you. If they are heavily opinionated or do not exhibit signs of a strong prayer life and their words do not reflect Scriptural things, then I would shy away from such a person.
For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). I can’t state enough, where does the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom come from? Is it from God or is it from the world? Not all spiritual mentors out there are equal. Find one who reads and teaches the Word of God! You will also want to see if their life reflects that of Jesus’s character. Is this man or woman a great spouse, parent, friend, and neighbor to others. Do they treat all people with Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control)? How do they respond when a situation becomes stressful, when they encounter hardship, when they are upset, when people insult or ridicule them. How did they respond when the restaurant gave them the wrong order? How did they respond when someone cut them off on the road? How did they respond when they saw someone in need?
A great mentor is someone who is always thankful and prayerful (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). They have a way of finding things to be thankful for even when it seems they have been stripped of everything. A person who still has the joy of the Lord in the hardest times of their life is a person with great strength and maturity in the Lord. Yet, the greatest thing you’ll need to notice is a person’s genuine love and pursuit of God. The greatest commandment is to love God and then to love others. If you can find someone who exemplifies this….you’ve got a keeper. I’m not talking about someone who is just “spiritual” or “shows up to church faithfully” but someone whose love for God means they deny themselves to put God and others first. This type of person you may notice eats last, stands while giving others a seat, arrives early to help and stays late to make sure things get done. If money or resources are needed, they are willing to give out of their own pocket. Why? Because this type of person sees that all that they have is God’s to begin with.
Lastly, find someone you can trust with anything you would have to share. A great mentor is a great listener, observer of your life and needs, and inspires or encourages you to keep putting Jesus number one in your life. There are people like this in all kinds of places. They could be old, middle-aged, and sometimes a young adult. Note, I think young people sometimes overlook the retired and elderly folks in their church. I tend to think that with a little more age comes a lot more wisdom. Yet, sometimes you can find a young adult who has learned a lot from an early age and already displayed years of faithful walk with Christ.
Spiritual mentors have a way of encouraging, inspiring, and holding us accountable to matters of our love and faith in Jesus. They are there to pray for us, cheer us on, help us up when we are down emotionally, and they are always putting God’s truth in front of us to focus on. This is why I encourage everyone to find at least one person you can go to and spend some consistent time with. A spiritual mentor may be just what you need to see gains in your spiritual growth!