Having a spiritual mentor is an effective and important way to grow spiritually. One-on-one coaching relationships provide effective accountability, custom-tailored teaching, and safe places to discuss the most difficult issues.

I don’t know where I would be without the many men and women that have been spiritual mentors to me over the years. My dad has the been the most important of these for me, but I have also had teachers, pastors, supervisors, and peers invest in my life in these ways. Not all of these were organic relationships; I had to make an effort to find and develop them! You’ll have to be intentional about this if you really want to find a spiritual mentor. Here is a 5 step plan to help you find your own spiritual mentor.

1) Pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit

I cannot overstate the importance of this first step. A spiritual mentor will speak into your life, giving direction and advice on some of the most important decisions and issues you will ever face. You want to make sure you are choosing the right person. Pray for wisdom and discernment in this! Pay attention to what God the Holy Spirit may be telling you through other trusted friends and pastors about who could be a good fit.

2) Define what you need

Do you need or want a sort of “all of life” mentor that can coach you through many different situations? Do you need a spiritual mentor to help with a specific challenge or situation? Do you need a long-term relationship or guidance for a few weeks or months? Write these things down and try to be as precise as possible about what you are looking for in a mentor.

3) Make a list of possible candidates

Put pen to paper as you prayerfully consider who you know that could fill the role of spiritual mentor in your life. Ask your trusted friends for ideas. Consider older men and women in your local church, family members that walk with the Lord, perhaps even some of your trusted friends that have had valuable life experience you could glean from.

4) Intentionally develop your existing relationship

You don’t necessarily have to formalize the mentoring relationship right away…or at all. Once you have identified a person that might a be a great spiritual mentor for you, simply make an effort to get to know them more. Invite them for coffee. Take an interest in their life. You might find that as the relationship develops you are comfortable asking and have opportunity to ask the sort of questions you need answers to. I’ve found that most people are happy to give advice if you just ask!

5) Consider formalizing the mentoring relationship

Formalizing the mentoring relationship is simply articulating goals and setting up boundaries. This is a good way for both parties know exactly what needs to be accomplished and how. Doing this can be as simple as saying to your potential mentor:

“Hey, I’ve really appreciated our conversations about spiritual things lately, and I could use your help. Would you be up for lunch a few times this month so we could talk more in-depth about [insert your specific issue]. I’d really like to gain some clarity on this and could use your prayers as well.”

What’s been your greatest challenge for finding a spiritual mentor?