If you are like me and ready to elevate your life to a higher level then there is one move you absolutely must make. Follow people who are at a higher level. It seems pretty obvious. But, the reality is that most people who desire to be an elite spouse, parent, minister, athlete, or businessperson don’t achieve it because they don’t follow the right people. They don’t have mentors. Yet, mentors are so hard to find. The answer may be in finding your model rather than your mentor. Yet, too often, we fail to identify either.
The problem is understandable.
We associate with our peers because they are likeminded. We can relate to them on many levels. We have many ideologies and behaviors in common. It is important to have a strong peer network for accountability and encouragement.
We reach out to those in need because we have experience and ideas that we believe can help them. Our compassion to make a difference compels us to reach out to those who can benefit from our gifts. It is imperative to reach those in need for perspective and humility.
I really like the oft-used ministry-development rubric that we all should “Be a Barnabas. Train a Timothy. Pursue a Paul.”
Barnabas was an encourager. He worked alongside others including Paul and Timothy encouraging their success. He was a staunch advocate. When others doubt Paul and Timothy’s veracity, Barnabas believed in them. In addition to his physical presence, scripture (Acts 4:36) shows that he also put his money where his mouth is in selling his own possessions to support the work of the Early church.
Many of us understand and walk in a Barnabas anointing. Others achieve success because we advocate for them.
In my own life, I have many Barnabas relationships—other marriage and family educators, coaches, ministers, business leaders with whom I share ideas and dreams. I value these relationships.
Timothy represents another key type of relationship—traininee or mentee. Timothy, a younger and less experienced believer, was mentored by Paul (despite Paul’s initial reluctance). Paul’s extensive missiological experience served as a deep reservoir from which Timothy drew. Paul ultimately referred to Timothy as “a son in the faith”, connoting the deep bond that he felt as his mentor.
Again, many of us educate and mentor others—empowering them to be all that God has for them to be. I have many Timothy relationships in my life as well as I proactively reach out to train others on leadership and relationship well-being.
I believe that many of us effectively emulate Barnabas’ encouragement. Many of us train and assist the Timothy figures that God places in our path. While these relationships are vital, they can also be draining—pulling energy from us.
But, there is one type of relationship that seems too often missing—Paul relationships.
Paul represents the formal or informal mentor relationships that intentionally invest in you.
In my experience, mentoring relationships are often very difficult to secure.
For many years, I wanted a formal mentor. I looked in the workplace and in the church. I was actively praying for that person that would see my potential and invest his or her time in me. I believed that with such an investment that I would make wiser decisions, have some doors opened for me, and expedite my dreams. But, for most of my life, that dream was never fulfilled. It was very disappointing.
It was only within the past couple of years that I began to see things differently. I realized that I needed to stop wishing for a formal mentor. It had become too disappointing. What I realized that I really needed was a role model from whom I could discern and mimic the steps to success.
Role models are much easier to find. They don’t even have to know you. In fact, many of mind don’t know me personally. But, I know them.
Through personal relationships and online media (e.g, blogs, podcasts, social media) I identified five role models who serve that Paul function for me. Why five? Inspirational speaker Jim Rohn said that “you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.”
In an earlier blog post (Click HERE to read), I talked about how raising one’s average is vital to “taking all that you do in life to the next level” as Cliff Ravenscraft advocates. I call these five people my “Fav Five” (remember that T-mobile commercial?) because through them I have elevated my thinking, my voice, and my platform.
I encourage you to check each of them out by clicking on their name below. Only two of them (Lamar Tyler, Wesley Greene) do I know personally—though I have exchanged emails with a couple of others and have done a video testimonial for another. Yet, every single week I listen to or read advice from most of them through the power of the Internet.
Regardless of your area of interest or passion, there are a wealth of role models out there for you to elevate your life.
You no longer have to sit waiting for someone to pick you as a mentee. You can choose whose voice you want to guide you. You can pick your Paul.
If you want to dream bigger, chase bigger, and do bigger I challenge you to pick your high five. You may favor in-person relationships. But, if they are slow coming, don’t hesitate in finding virtual parties with whom you identify.
Here are five fail-proof tips when choosing who your Paul will be. Choose someone who:
- Makes you feel comfortable (you would enjoy sitting with them and chatting in a coffee shop)
- Is transparent and authentic (shares his/her successes and failures as a learning experience)
- Has measurable success in your area of interest
- Is consistently generous in offering valuable content
- Prioritizes your needs and success over his/her income generation
Based on these criteria, I have chosen my Fav Five (see below). I have identified several who are in the Internet business/marketing space as that is an area that I am focusing much of my own efforts right now. But, that will shift over time. They key is to reach out to learn from those who can guide you to your next level–whatever your area of passion may be.
Keep being an encourager like Barnabas. Continue helping others like Timothy. But, commit to finding those five Paul’s in your life, your Fav Five. The benefits are incalculable as it affects the trajectory of your life.
My Fav Five
- Lamar Tyler – a role model for establishing a successful, culturally-relevant blog
- Pastor Wesley Greene – a role model (and mentor) for faith and business acumen
- Michael Hyatt – a role model for platform building and leadership
- Pat Flynn – a role model for online monetization strategies
- Dan Miller – a role model for thinking big
How many Paul’s do you have in your life right now? Leave a comment and let me know.