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The Black Cornerempty posted: 6.03
Mike Ramey Mike Ramey

by Mike Ramey,
The Manhoodline
some text

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.

Who 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 time.

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.

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:

*The 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.

*The ‘I 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.

*The ‘Step 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.

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 direction.

*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.

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.

Now there 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, and parenting 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.

Then, 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.

MIKE RAMEY is the author of The Manhood Line. A syndicated, monthly column, written for men from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective. Emails welcome to
2003 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International

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