The Invisible Cost of Not Having a Mentor

When I initially approached Dr. Jay Herndon I didn’t say, “Will you mentor me?” I mean that’s weird, right? People often don’t know what the other means by “mentor” and it just brings a formality into the relationships which makes people uneasy. So instead I just asked if I could meet with him from time to time to ask him some questions about theology, ministry, and life. I really didn’t have a particular agenda, I just knew the Lord had said I have something to learn from him.

It must have been the Holy Spirit directing our conversation because in one of our first meetings Dr. Jay began abruptly asking about my education and pushing me towards getting my Doctorate. I had my Masters, but I only had a 36 unit Master’s degree, and you need 72 units in order to apply for a doctoral program. I was years away from qualifying because I could only take one class a semester in my current season of life. And slowly chipping away at something so large was becoming discouraging.

Dr. Jay however encouraged me to apply anyway and see if I could get in, even though I didn’t qualify. I had called schools before and had explicitly asked, “OK how far away am I from qualifying for this program?” My problem was that I didn’t realize I was just talking to the secretary who was just reading me back the same list of requirements I was looking at from their website. Dr. Jay, who is on a doctoral acceptance committee, knew that there is a certain amount of students that universities can make exceptions for every year, so I should just start applying. He clarified that I should not just send the transcripts, or talk to them on the phone, but go ahead and pay the $50 application fee because that’s when your file will actually be placed in front of an acceptance committee. And that is where institutions will make the exceptions to their own requirements!

So I did. I applied to a few different schools, but it was George Fox University that ended up accepting 18 units of my undergrad work, as graduate credits! I was stupefied. I had no idea this was even possible! If I hadn’t gotten that one piece of information, I would still be chipping away slowing at yet another and another graduate class. What’s even scarier though, is that without this… I want to call it a “life hack”… that Dr. Jay showed me, I may have even grown discouraged and quit. Or perhaps I would have just taken a “break” but never found the right time to pick it up again.

This one conversation I had with a mentor that God directed me to pursue, saved me $10,000 and 2-3 years of work.

But this is what really blows my mind. If I had never had this conversation, I would have never known what I didn’t get! I would be completely oblivious to an enormous blessing I could have had.

And that is the invisible cost of not having a mentor.

You might be fine going through whatever profession or a particular area of life without an expert voice speaking to you, but that’s only because you are unable to see what it could be like. Not having a mentor is a very expensive mistake, It’s just hard to put your finger on where it’s costing you. You may not see it so actively, but massive withdraws are coming from your life that take the form of missed opportunities, empty growth, and unreached potential. These opportunities pass by like planes quietly flying over you at 30,000 feet, while you sit at sea level oblivious of what could be.

How many years of leadership frustration could be saved with the right voice speaking into your life. How many years could you fast track unknowingly because you had someone give you “free” advice.

“Don’t do it like that.” “Place your hand here.” “Stand like this.” “There’s a shortcut this way.” Oh ok. Little do you know you just avoided a major crisis.

Often the payouts aren’t as evident as what happened for me. They get invested back into our life just as invisibly, and in a thousand different ways. Don’t pay the invisible toll by not pursuing the mentors, coaches, and experts around you.

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Dr. Jay continues to be gracious with his time & wisdom and meet with me periodically, and I’m very grateful for him and all the many ways these meetings have impacted my life.

Who is speaking into your life? What’s your experience been like with mentors and coaches? Share and comment below.

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6 thoughts on “The Invisible Cost of Not Having a Mentor

  1. This is awesome. So incredibly happy for you that your dreams are taking shape, under the guidance of God and the direction provided by good mentors. I wonder sometimes if you know how much of an impact you’ve had on my life and my thinking, too. Can’t wait to hear about your progress toward the doctorate!

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  2. This article is so insightful and is a stark reminder of why mentors are so necessary in our lives if we want to grow. As for my experiences with mentors, I notice that I usually end up applying the same principles that I see in work in my mentor’s lives. For example, when I got involved in my college ministry, I learned the value of fellowship and being intentional with relationships. After this, I realized that I had seen these same principles in you while you were my youth pastor in Pendleton. So you are right in saying that if we have mentors in our life who can guide us, these life lessons are much easier to learn with their help rather than forging our own paths unnecessarily. Anyways, this is a very well-written article, and I am also enjoying the ideas that you are discussing in your website. Keep it up and congrats on your new program!

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