Tag Archives: mentoring

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.

Mentoring

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It’s probably a silly question to ask you if you’ve heard the word “mentoring” before.  But it’s a less ridiculous question to ask if you really know what it means.  It seems like there are a lot of definitions floating around now days.  But it wasn’t always this way.

Back in our first year of marriage and our first year of full time ministry I was feeling pretty lost.  My Mom and Dad had recently moved to another state to pastor a church (this was in the days before the internet.)  In addition, I had very few girl friends in my life.  All of my college friends were getting married and moving on with their lives.  I felt alone.  After being lonely and wondering exactly HOW I should do this pastor’s wife thing, I decided that I needed some women friends in my life.  I know it sounds weird, but I didn’t even know how to make new friends outside of school!  So I decided to go to a Women’s Prayer Retreat at a camp grounds 3 hours from my house.  I knew no one else who was going.  I just decided to go by myself.

At the Prayer Retreat, one of the speakers talked about this new idea called “mentoring”.  I had never heard of it before, but it resonated with me.  I spent the weekend asking other women what they thought of this idea, is it compatible with ministry, how do you find a mentor?  And I prayed.  I actually prayed for 3 months that the Lord would lead me to a mentor.  I kept my eyes opened when I was at church, and I found a mentor.  I admired her ministry in the church.  I respected her family values.  I thought I would enjoy her company.  But I still didn’t know what a mentor was supposed to do exactly.  One day I went out on a limb and asked her if she would be my mentor.

She was just as bewildered by this word as I was.  But after praying about it, she decided to try it.  She laid some ground rules with me, which I thought was very wise.  She said, “No gossip, No talking bad about our spouses, and everything that we discuss is confidential.”  So over the course of the next few months we talked regularly.  We talked about ministry.  We talked about the things I was struggling with.  We talked about home making- I was learning how to sew and she was a Home Economics Teacher, so that was fun.  We talked about marriage and children.  I watched her.  I imitated her.  I modeled my thinking after her thoughts.  I grew a lot.

I was thankful that the Lord gave me someone mature and respectable like her to walk with me through my early growing phases.  I learned that not only can mentors be someone that you know personally, but they can be a person that you “know” by reading a book about their life or someone that you watch from a distance.  You don’t have to meet for coffee once a week to GLEAN from someone’s experience.  I wanted to tell you this story about a mentoring success, because tomorrow I’m going to talk about what happens when mentoring goes to the extreme.  Just so you don’t think I’m jaded, I wanted to preface tomorrow’s blog with a good experience.  So hopefully you’ll come back tomorrow.

Finding Your “Thing”

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The other day I was taking my friend to the airport and she asked how my kids were doing.  I told her that my son was excited to start up guitar lessons again after an 18 month hiatus.  I explained that several years ago my dad bought the boy his guitar and amp.  He was at that age where kids really need to find their “thing” in order to solidify their place in the social arena.  So guitar became the boy’s Thing.

My friend then told me a story about a girl she knew who was the middle of 3 sisters.  The older sister had a Thing, the younger sister had her Thing, but the middle child couldn’t find her Thing.  So her mother started teaching her how to cook, grocery shop, and prepare meals.  Cooking became her Thing.  It was so much her Thing that the other sisters truly believed they were not smart enough to cook and it wasn’t their Thing.  The sisters didn’t learn to cook until they were adults.

So we had this whole conversation about Things and we understood each other perfectly.  Everyone needs to find their Thing in life.  Sometimes we need a wise parent or grandparent to offer direction and encouragement in finding our talents and interests.  Sometimes it takes a youth pastor or a mentor or a teacher to breathe inspiration into a young life.  So my question for you is, Who was the person who inspired you to discover your talents or develop your interests?  Have you thanked them lately?  Sometimes we aren’t even aware of all the people we inspire and it’s a pleasant surprise to receive a Thank You for an example well lived.  So do it!  Go ahead!  Find the person who inspired you and say Thank You.  It will mean a lot to them.