Mentoring Killed the Pioneers

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In yesterday’s blog, I gave an example of mentoring done right.  A spiritually mature woman taking a young lady under her wing to teach her how to be a good wife and how to love the Lord is a very Biblical picture of mentorship.  But I have noticed a frustrating trend in mentorship.  Dependency.

My generation is known for its self centeredness, for sure, but the generation below me is infamous for its narcissism.  Between the two of us, we are a pretty self focused force in society.  We write blogs, because we think someone wants to hear what we have to say.  We endlessly transmit our thoughts and daily routines and emotions onto the billboard of social media.  And though we have accomplished nothing in life, we self publish books as a status symbol.  Everyone writes, no one reads.  And no one LEADS either.

That’s the big problem I see with mentoring now days.  No one is willing to strike out on their own, be a pioneer, blaze new trails.  Everyone wants someone to hold their hand through every step of adulthood.  The generation that was told they are something special just by being born, the generation that was the center of their parent’s social calendar, wants to be the center of someone else’s life too.  And it’s paralyzing.

Let me give you an example.  I know a young lady who is a volunteer in her church.  She is actually a brilliant girl with many natural talents.  She serves in an unpaid position in her church, yet says that the Lord has called her to be a pastor.  So one day her Senior Pastor asked her, “Don’t you realize that you could do this for PAY in a church?  You could finish your Bible School degree and get a job as a pastor.”

“Oh no, I don’t want to do that,” she claimed, “not until I find a pastor that I feel will mentor me in the way that I want to be mentored.”  Her Senior Pastor balked.  This girl was intelligent, talented, and already DOING ministry.  So what more did she need from a mentor?  Attention.

Not just attention, but this generation of mentor seekers is looking for someone who will give their ENTIRE attention to them- someone who will focus their lives around them.  They are not content with a once a month coffee meeting.  This group of mentorless wanderers want to be the center of someone else’s ministerial focus.  They want it so badly that they refuse to move forward in their lives if no mentor can be found.  They are paralyzed for the lack of someone to hold their hand and caress their ego.  Mentoring has become another nest to hid in.

It used to be that when a person had a vision and a passion, they would become the trailblazers in their field.  They would bravely launch into the unknown and find their way in the darkness.  No one just handed them advice or advantages- or a Nobel Peace Prize.  All this had to be earned in the school of hard knocks.  This Independent Spirit gave the world many of its greatest leaders, pioneers, inventors and visionaries.  I seriously wonder who the biographist will write about from this generation.  It seems like everyone is skipping the DOING of great things and going right to the WRITING about their own greatness themselves.  I wonder if mentoring has killed the pioneer spirit.

5 responses »

  1. Really interesting commentary. I think you’re right about dependency being a risk in mentoring. I wonder how many of the people in the generations you describe grew up kind of “parent-less,” and maybe they’re looking for mentors to fill a need that was never met.

    I say this because a young woman I mentored once grew up in a totally messed up, co-dependent home, and I think what encouraged her most in our relationship was just that I expressed interest and asked her about her life, something her parents never did.

    Your post about healthy mentoring yesterday was great too!

    • Thanks! It’s true that people who grow up without good parenting can benefit from more guidance, but it sure is draining when you’re trying to fill a deep void like that.

  2. Totally agree, and I see it in myself too… the desire to be centre of it all. Also, the best mentor is Jesus, and a deeper relationship with him. At times in my life when I’ve prayed for community or friendship, I’ve been blessed with it; other times, I think God is showing me that He can do it for me, and that I need to focus more on our relationship. Ultimately that satisfies the self-centred desire too, though I do need to remind myself to pray on focusing outwards and not just towards myself. Serving myself, or serving God? I’m asking myself that a lot lately. God bless!

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