How Long Distance Mentors Can Equip You

making peace with prickly peopleA mentor is defined as ‘an experienced and trusted adviser, a guide, or guru.’ Not all mentors have to be close friends. Some of the best mentors will be experts in your field who may guide you from a distance.  3 professional Christian speakers have mentored me from afar. Today I wanted to share how long distance mentors can equip you. This may encourage you to seek out long distance mentors yourself.

Why Long Distance Mentors?

Mentors are people who have succeeded in an endeavor that you are looking to perfect. They’ve been where you are and achieved a level of success. Mentors have a desire to extend a helping hand to others who are behind them in the journey. The mark of a great mentor is someone who guides others to reach heights the mentor never did.

My husband and I mentor married couples at our church. Growing together instead of growing apart, our marriage isn’t perfect, but it is strong. The vision is that every couple we come in contact with will someday be sitting on the other side of the table, encouraging a younger couple. Strengthening other marriages is our passion.

Many leaders have a giving heart and make wonderful mentors. But it’s not always easy to find the right mentor locally. That was why I went online looking for long distance mentors to teach me and encourage me as a Christian speaker when I first started out. I wanted to learn from experienced speakers who could show me the ropes.

I found three mentors who have all been amazing role models. I’ve personally met two of them, and hope to someday meet the third. I wanted to share a little about each of these amazing women, and what they taught me.

Whether you are an aspiring Christian speaker or not, you may be able to find professional long distance mentors that can encourage and equip you in a similar way. Of course, it’s always great to have a mentor you can meet with face to face. But if you’ve not been able to find that person, maybe this post will encourage you to find someone online.

Carol Kent Carol Kent Gave me Confidence

In 1996 I heard Carol Kent speak. She had created a ministry called Speak Up with Confidence to train Christian speakers. At the time I thought that was downright scary – I would never be interested speaking publicly!

But in 1999, I heard God’s call to become a professional Christian speaker. Do you ever feel God nudging you to go outside your comfort zone and try something new? For me, reading a book was a natural, no risk way to investigate this nudge.

I use this method even now when I sense God calling me to something new. Reading a book is like opening a door and peeking inside without stepping inside and locking the door behind me. If God is calling, He will confirm the call as I investigate. All the while I pray and ask God to direct my sails.

I read Carol Kent’s Speak Up with Confidence: A Step-by-Step Guide for Speakers and Leaders, and absolutely loved it! It was so practical and down to earth. I felt so confident that a few weeks later when I was invited to share a testimony at a local church, I said yes!

I followed up by attending the Speak Up Conference, where I connected with other budding speakers, was taught and entertained by great teachers, and was given personal feedback on my presentations.

How Confidence Expanded my Ministry

Carol was the keynote speaker and I was a workshop presenter at a conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan this year. I had prayed that I would get the opportunity to let Carol know how much she meant to me. God answered that prayer, and we had a sweet time of connecting. She was even gracious enough to do a selfie with me! It’s somewhat funny to think that Carol was responsible for giving me the confidence to even approach Carol!

When I think back to how Carol mentored me through her training and books, I think of the confidence I gained. I really needed that, especially in the beginning. That confidence allowed me to go outside my comfort zone so many times to join Stonecroft Ministries, speak in women’s ministry at various churches, join Toastmasters and compete in contests. To date, I’ve spoken to over 5000 people, something I would never have imagined in the past.

florence littauer Florence Littauer Gave me Vision

After training with Carol Kent, I began to speak for Stonecroft Ministries. I was traveling to 5 states and had a busy speaking schedule. But I’m a learner. I still look for ways to develop my speaking skills today. I belong to Toastmasters International, a great organization for developing leaders and speakers for all walks of life.

In searching for more speaker training, I came across Florence Littauer and her Classeminars ministry. I signed up for a speaker training conference. Florence was unknown to me, but she had written over 35 books, including Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself. At the end of the conference, she gave a short presentation about personalities.

The intriguing and comical way she presented personality theory drew me in and helped me to understand myself in a way I never had before. I was instantly hooked. I felt that I had stumbled on something that was going to have a major impact on my life. A whole new vision for who I was and what I was doing opened up before me.

Has this ever happened to you? You are engaged in your day, having expectations for what is going to happen. Suddenly you encounter a moment that changes your life. Moments like this are called Kairos moments. Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical or opportune moment. At moments like this, we need to slow down and pay attention to what God is teaching us. If we quietly observe, question, ask others for advice and seek God’s direction, we may just head off on a different trajectory. Click for more information about Kairos moments. 

How Vision Expanded my Ministry

I did a lot of thinking and praying about personality theory, and decided to pursue training with Florence. I did the homework and attended her advanced class, becoming certified as a Personality Trainer. As I applied what I learned to my own life and my relationships, I gained a tool to help me make peace in some prickly relationships.

That training and the encouragement from this amazing woman became the seeds of my book, Making Peace with Prickly People: Transforming Relationships by Loving God, Self, and Others. I expanded on her knowledge and my prickly people research led me to:

I learned a lot from Florence Littauer, but the single most important thing I gained from her was a vision for my ministry.

marnies friendsMarnie Swedberg Gave me Opportunities

Several years later, I was looking for tools to help me in marketing. God will open doors, but we have to tell people we are standing behind them. I had no experience with marketing except for a brief stint at a computer software company. More expertise was needed.

Again I went to the internet. There wasn’t anyone in my circles who had built an online presence as a Christian speaker and blogger. My website needed so much more to make it ‘discoverable.’

I happened onto Womenspeakers.com, founded by Marnie Swedberg. What a goldmine! Marnie is dubbed Mentor Marnie. She hosts her website of Christian speakers, the Blog Talk Radio program Marnie’s Friends, Bible Study Expo, and gives more value than I can mention.

I signed up for a listing and I was off and running. Many event planners have contacted me from my page at womenspeakers.com. The value I’ve received by listening to Marnie’s online training has been priceless. I have learned practical tools for marketing, building a website, connecting with event planners, speaking, and more. She interviews experts on these and many other topics. I was not disappointed when I invested in the wealth of information provided through my membership at womenspeakers.com.

How Opportunity Expanded my Ministry

I have been blessed to have been invited to be a guest speaker for Marnie’s Friends, presenting my own training, Blogging Outside the Box. And this year I was honored to be interviewed for Marnie’s Bible Study Expo, sharing about the study guide for Making Peace with Prickly People.

Marnie and I are cyber-friends, but I am waiting for the opportunity to meet Marnie face to face. Can’t wait for that day when I can give her a great big hug and let her know how much she has meant to me.

One of the reasons I have found opportunities through Marnie’s mentoring is because she gives so much above and beyond expectations. In her generosity, she provides many opportunities for others to find success. She has inspired me to be more than I thought I could be. Do you know someone like that? It’s a valuable mentor who can encourage but also guide (and sometimes push a little) with honest questions and advice. I am motivated to be like her, giving to those who follow me in a sacrificial way. She has encouraged me to think outside the box and always lean into God for direction. I often have to be pushed to achieve, I’m normally much too complacent. Marnie gives me that extra push when I need it. 

I’ve gained so much from my association with Marnie Swedberg, the opportunities she has provided are beyond value. She inspires me to be generous with others. Several years ago I connected with two other local Christian speakers and together we founded the Michigan Christian Women Speakers network. We network together to share, pray and refer each other. It’s an awesome group of women!

How Long Distance Mentors Can Equip You

These are 3 of my most impactful mentors, all ‘met’ online, not initially personal friends. I am so grateful for each one of them. Each one has provided a key component for my ministry and has inspired me to grow in ways I never thought possible.

What about you? Do you need a mentor? What is your next step? I will be blogging about other types of mentors in the next month or so. But maybe now is the time for you to start searching online. Maybe there’s someone out there who could provide you with the confidence, vision, or opportunities you’re looking for. Let our readers know what you are looking for. Maybe you will connect with someone right here who has the expertise and the desire to mentor you.

…because U count, deb

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My greatest joy is sharing the wisdom God has given me about forgiveness, healing, destiny and maturity. I do that in coffee shops and in auditoriums; in speaking and in writing; with humor and with candor.

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