I never thought that I would be writing a two-part commentary on the subject
of mentoring. After all, one would think that this subject needs little in
the way of comment, or introduction. In talking with friends, and checking
various business publications over the months and years, I have found quite
a lot written and spoken about mentoring. It would seem that the well had ‘run
dry’ on this subject.
However, two things have turned up as blips on the
social radar screen:
*It seems that there are STILL a host of individuals and
groups ‘seeking’ mentors
for themselves, or for other parties--be they young people, or people new to
a particular vocation or field--without true insight as to the role/definition
of a mentor.
*There is a new, younger generation of brothers rising into the
manhood ranks. Some of them coming from single-parent homes. Still others coming
into to the
spotlight of adulthood from some horrible experiences. Others are already out
of college or university and making their way along the road of life, looking
for a helping hand.
Thus the need to cover the issue of mentoring. For some,
this might be old territory. For others, it may be the first time that the
subject has been broken
down for better consumption and understanding.
Brothers, allow me to get to
the bottom line of this commentary in rapid fashion.
If you don’t walk
away from this two-parter with anything else, please remember this: One cannot
BE mentored IF they are not WILLING to listen AND
act upon good, sound, and sometimes biblical advice.
Oh yes, make no mistake
about it. While the term is not found in the Bible, the concept of mentoring
IS clearly illustrated. However, it is better known
as disciple-making, or shepherding. One could even liken it to building a legacy.
In reality, one cannot ‘leave out’ the spiritual when dealing with
the leading of young men and young women into a better understanding of their
duties and responsibilities as adults--be they in the home, or in the workplace.
THIS--in a nutshell--is why there is a dilemma in the mentoring process in
my view: The neglect of the spiritual in order to achieve ‘results’ ONLY
from a social viewpoint. One cannot be a successful ‘mentor’ without
having a spiritual foundation. Neither can one ‘be mentored’ in
a successful fashion WITHOUT biblical instruction.
I’ll get some nasty emails on the ‘deliberate insertion’ of
biblical thought into a man-made concept. However, IF the truth be told, perhaps
this is why mentoring has not had the desired ‘long term’ effects
that this ‘buzzword’ has sought.
There is another reason: The social monstrosity known as the ‘talk back’ crowd.
wants to ‘attempt’ to mentor someone who is so wrapped up in
their own clothing of bitterness, arrogance, and pride they won’t listen
to sound advice? Check it: We live in a modern age where it is considered ‘cool’ to ‘talk
back’ to those in positions of authority. Sadly, people do it all the
We see the talk back crowd on TV reality shows, as so-called ‘wise’ individuals
get their kicks yelling and fussing at everyone from parents on up to police
officers, judges, teachers, and politicians. We read about lawsuits filed against
members of the clergy. We hear about fistfights breaking out between neighbors,
shootings and stabbings happening between husbands and wives, and employees ‘giving
a piece of their minds’ to employers--sometimes with the aid of a gun
or assault weapon.
We are living in an age where the term ‘respect’ has
gone out the window.
If one truly wants to be mentored--one has to have RESPECT
for those who are doing the task of mentoring. Otherwise, it’s a waste
of time--on both sides.
SOME WISDOM FROM THE PAST:
Years ago, there was a speaker by the name of Don Loney who made the rounds
of many a school. This man was sharp, articulate, and on point concerning the
world of teens growing up in the turbulent Sixties.
Loney once made some observations
as to what habits would ‘kill’ a
teenager’s ability to grow into a successful adult. I’m more than
happy to share his observations here, and add a few more items for better understanding:
Late Habit. Simply stated, if a teen cannot get to class on time, they will
REALLY have problems in getting to work on time in the real world. Punctuality
is a virtue, not a liability.
*The ‘I Won’t Sweat It’ Habit.
Simply stated, if a teen does not have a drive to be successful, they will
be stuck in the ranks of being
average--by their own choice. Brothers, there are too many young men who are
content to merely ‘exist’ and not ‘grow’ in our modern
times. One problem I have noticed among young men and young women is that there
is a mistaken impression that the world ‘owes’ them something because
they merely ‘show up’ to the classroom or the job. Let me be the
first to ‘school’ someone about Real Life 101. ‘Showing up’ does
not make one a willing participant in the learning or employment process. What
one DOES after they arrive WILL determine their ability to succeed.
Quit’ Habit. Simply stated, if an individual does NOT get
their way, they merely decide to quit, and go off by themselves, cursing those
who ‘attempted’ to show them the right way to go in life.
Here are two other habits that have come into play in our modern era.
Off’ Habit. Simply stated, this is where some adults
and teens feel they can ‘kick’ a mentor to the curb with all the
style and grace of a freight train. The mentor can provide sound advice, and
wise counsel--but the ‘recipient’ is not looking for mentoring,
they are really looking for someone to agree that they are right and everyone
else is wrong. As long as they can ‘win’ the argument, these individuals
feel that they have ‘bested’ the mentor.
*The ‘Keeping It
Real’ Habit. Simply stated, and based upon our
current era, those who claim to want to be mentored, will try their best to
persuade the mentor that the mentor is not being ‘real’ if they
put forth items such as proper speech, proper dress, and social graces needed
for one to succeed. If one has not learned to say ‘thank you’,
let alone have the humility to ask for help when they need it, they are NOT
going to be a willing participant in the mentoring process.
Frankly, if a person
is not appreciative of my taking time from my schedule to help them to be all
they can, and be successful, as a mentor, I will be
MORE than happy to move on and find someone who WILL heed my advice. No, I
am not saying that I am ‘all that’, but what I am saying is that
a true mentor does not have the time to have to prove themselves to a person
who ‘claims’ to want to be mentored.
A ‘REAL’ EXAMINATION:
People WANT to be mentored--but on their own terms. True mentoring does NOT
work that way! The downside of mentoring in our modern age is that the person
being mentored oftentimes does NOT willingly receive, nor act upon the advice
and/or wisdom they are given. THEN they ‘blame’ the mentor for
the advice and counsel given.
Brothers, let’s examine what a mentor CAN
and CAN NOT do:
*A mentor CAN NOT undo your past, but CAN point you in the right
*Mentors CAN NOT fight your battles, but CAN teach you what you need to do
to fight your own battles.
*Mentors CAN NOT change your ‘funky’ attitude, but CAN give you
the tools to check yourself out in your own personal mirror.
*A mentor CAN NOT tell you only the good things, but CAN share the good and
the bad about your abilities to help you correct shortcomings.
WHAT IS A MENTOR?
My own definition of a mentor is an older person--oftentimes of the same sex--
who will serve to guide, to teach, and to equip you to succeed at a particular
stage in your life--and will let you go on to be successful. It may not be
a ‘by the book’ definition, but one based upon my personal reflection,
observation and experience.
*A mentor is NOT a personal or verbal punching bag.
*A mentor is NOT a person to be disrespected.
*A mentor is NOT a person whom YOU seek--they seek YOU!
*A mentor is NOT an ATM that you may tap at will.
*A mentor is NOT a person who will always tell you that you are right.
are two types of mentors: those of the long-term variety, and those of the short-term
variety. In order to make my point, we have to head back
to the institution of the family.
You see--the FIRST mentors are your PARENTS.
They are what could best be described as mentors of the long term. It doesn’t
matter if one comes from a two parent or single parent home. The wisdom, instruction,
love and understanding
your parents supply to you serve as the foundation as to how well, or poorly,
you will get along with other people. If a child grows up unwilling to accept
the advice of their mother or father, it will be harder for them along the
path of life, when they eventually DO meet other successful people who want
to help them achieve.
Of course, part of the reason why the mentoring process
has become stale and unappealing to many rests in the fact that the home, marriage,
have been pushed aside for ‘social programs’. Moses received valuable
instruction in leadership from his father-in-law, Jethro. In turn, Moses was
able to teach, lead and train Joshua. Joshua, in turn, was able to lead the
people into the Promised Land. There wasn’t a social program in sight.
there is another reason why mentoring has hit upon hard times.
While there are
many cases of men helping women, and women helping men in the scriptures, the
bottom-line responsibility for ‘mentoring’ young
men and young women rests with parents AND older men and older women, which
is contained in the Book of Titus, Chapter Two.
We’ll take ten right here…but
be back for more, very soon.