Today we’re talking about mentors because I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how to find a mentor. In my most recent live episode, I shared that you need three types of people to outgrow porn: allies, guides, and experts. And by far the most difficult one to find is a guide (a mentor). You know, someone who's modeling for you what it means to be a man of God...who's pouring into you discipling you, supporting you, encouraging you, listening to you, loving you at every step of the way.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul says "You have many guardians in Christ, but not many fathers." In other words, "You have lots of teachers who can tell you the truth about God, but you don't have many mature men of God who are actually willing to enter into your life and to father you, to disciple you, to mentor you." If you want to be free from porn, having a mentor or a group of mentors is not optional, it's essential...and not having a mentor is a huge reason why I stayed stuck in porn for so many years.
Because my dad refused to talk about anything sexual with me, I remember what it was like to be a little boy wishing desperately for an older brother who was a little bit further ahead of me on this journey, who could give me tips and tools for how to relate to girls, how to understand my body, how to express my sexuality in a healthy way, and to give me direction, discipleship, and pure love without the pressure to perform. It wasn't until I got to college that I actually found some of those older brothers and spiritual fathers. And when I finally found them, it was like oxygen.
So I want to give a shout out to some of my mentors: David Petersons, Dan Haase, Vince Bacote, Skye Jethani, Michael Tso, and Jay Stringer. God has used you to make me a better man. And because of this, I get to be a mentor to others. I get to be the older brother that I never had. This is why I do what I do. This is why I'm so passionate about Husband Material and helping men outgrow porn. This ministry is about discipleship. It's about mentorship. It's about giving you the support and guidance you need to grow up sexually.
Finding a mentor is a crucial aspect of that journey. So today I want to break it down for you, because when it comes to actually finding a mentor, so many of us get stuck. We try to overcomplicate the process. So today I'm going to make it really simple. If you want to find a great mentor, you need to do two things:
1. Pick someone.
2. Pursue someone.
Before you dismiss me saying, "Oh, I already know that," let me explain it a little further. If you've had mentoring relationships in the past, that disappointed you, that wounded you it's probably because you neglected this first step: actually pick someone.
You need to be the one who chooses your mentor. Even if you have a youth pastor or a family member who wants to mentor you, it doesn't necessarily mean he's a good fit. You want to pick someone. How do you do that?
First you need to identify how you want to grow. What are those areas where you need development? For most of us, that means freedom from porn. You want somebody who has the same kind of sobriety that you want. Somebody who has the same kind of relationship that you want. Somebody who has the same kind of faith that you want. Somebody who is further ahead of you on the path you're traveling .
The next step is to find a guy like that. Maybe it's at church. Maybe it's at work. Maybe it's in an online community, like the Husband Material Facebook Group. Find a few people who could be good candidates. You want them to rub off on you. You want to copy them. You want to imitate them. You want to follow them as they are following Christ. That is step one: pick someone.
Once you've located a possible mentor, how do you actually pursue that person? This is where it gets difficult. This is where it gets tricky. And this is where you can actually experience rejection. Some of us have pursued mentors in the past and it didn't work out. It left us feeling even more wounded and alone. So let me tell you a quick story about what I learned about how to pursue a mentor.
When I was in college, one of my professors named Dan lit my soul on fire. He inspired me. I loved this man. One day at lunch, I said, "Dan, would you be my mentor?" And he said NO! I was devastated. I was discouraged. I was crushed.
Dan had a good reasons for saying no. He said his capacity for mentoring relationships was full. He was a college professor. He was investing in so many students, which was completely valid...but here's what happened next" I kept inviting him out to lunch. I kept inviting him to go for walks and talk about poetry and we shared our work together and what we were learning. In the end, Dan accidentally mentored me for the next three years. It was amazing!
Here's what I learned. Mentoring happens best when you don't call it mentoring.
All you have to do is extend an invitation. If you want to pursue a mentor, extend an invitation out to lunch: "Hey, would you want to eat lunch with me on Friday? Would you want to exercise with me on Saturday morning? Would you want to do something that we both enjoy?" Then take it from there. Don't ask for a huge commitment or something formal, like "Will you mentor me?" Ask for a micro-commitment, something small.
Listen: older, wiser men of God love to be pursued. We will not usually initiate, but when others pursue us, it feels like an honor. The problem is we feel like we are at full capacity with our existing commitments. So if you want to pursue a possible mentor, you have to ask for a micro-commitment: something small, something doable, and preferably something that person enjoys.
In my mentoring relationship with Dan, I found that when I pursued him in a way that worked for him, asking for micro-commitments and developing trust over time, he actually began to pursue me. And that is the final secret I want to share with you about pursuing a mentor. If you're willing to take the time to be strategic and consistent, you can actually influence a mentor or a possible mentor to pursue you.
Here's a high-level strategy that requires more intentionality: basically what you want to do is learn more about this possible mentor, and then find a way to add value. You don't start by asking for a micro-commitment saying, "Hey, can you eat lunch with me? Hey, can you go for a run with me?" You start by giving them something for nothing in return, because you believe it will benefit them—free of charge, no strings attached.
This is actually the only way to find a mentor who's high in demand. If you want to have the right to somebody's time and attention who has a lot of public attention, you have to get into their world a little bit, figure out what they need, and then offer that to them if you're able to.
People ask me: "How did you get Jay Stringer to mentor you?" Jay is an amazing Christian psychotherapist. He's the leader in the field of healing unwanted sexual behavior. Here's how it happened: I created a study guide for his book, Unwanted.
I said, "Hey, Jay, I created this study guide. I'm using it with my clients. They're getting great results. Would you like to see it?" He saw it. He loved it. And that became the official study guide for Unwanted. Since then he has trained me, mentored me, and we've collaborated on a number of projects. It all started with me adding value. Then in response, he decided to pursue a relationship. Jay's mentorship has changed my life both personally and professionally, and he's just one of the many mentors who are making me into a man of Christ-like character.
If you want a mentor, I've laid it all out for you:
First, you need to pick someone. You need to decide how you want to grow. And then find someone has those qualities. Make a list if you can.
Then you need to pursue someone. This can look like extending invitations. ask for micro-commitments. Find out what they like and seeing if they want to do it with you.
Finally, add value. Especially if you want a mentor who's in high demand, you have to add value. Offer as much as you can. Ask for nothing in return, and might actually inspire them to pursue you.
If the mentoring relationship is successful, in the end you just become friends.
It's my prayer for you that you would not only have allies and experts on this journey to freedom, but that you would have mature, godly mentors. Probably the best place to find mentors for freedom from porn right now is the Husband Material Facebook Group. We have some awesome guys in there who have months and years of freedom from porn. You can join our group at husbandmaterialmen.com.
Always remember my friend: You are God's beloved son. In you He is well pleased.