Gratitude Day 563
Mon., Feb. 1, 2021
1 Timothy 4:11-12 – Instruct and teach the people all that I’ve taught you. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith.
Sometimes, things turn out so much better than you expect.
It happened to me last week. I have been participating in a virtual book club. The participants belong to a women’s group that I was involved in while in college. AWA, which stands for Association of Women in Agriculture, also has an active alumni group. Book club is one activity where active college students and alumni can participate together.
This is the third or fourth book that we have read. Quite honestly? I wasn’t digging this book. While the author is a well-known actress, I can’t recall ever seeing her on the little screen. Her book was OK but just not one that I connected with. As book club was about to begin, I contemplated if this would be a good use of my time. As one not to re-nig on a commitment, I hopped online and decided that I could simply listen to what others shared.
I already knew that I am much older than the author. I also anticipated that compared to the other book club participants, I would be an ancient hen with the good possibility that I would be the eldest participant. Yet, I remained optimistic that I could learn something from the younger chicks on the call.
Yes, the other participants thought the book was funny and interesting. As the discussion leader led us through each chapter, she asked a thoughtful question and allowed for folks to respond.
Then, we reached the chapter called, “On Being a Mentor.” Interestingly, Mindy didn’t write this chapter. She had a person who she looks up to as a mentor share their views on being a mentor. The chapter lead into a discussion about mentors and how we view them. The younger gals spoke about their views. The discussion leader then asked if the more mature ladies would respond to the question.
It didn’t take long for Daphne and me to know she was speaking about us. Daphne gave a great response about how she tries to mentor people who work on their dairy farm. She gave examples of how she does this. Clearly, some are benefiting from Daphne’s mentoring, as even former employees shared a gift with her this previous Christmas.
When it came time for me to share, I began by pointing out that decades earlier, Daphne had been one of my mentors. While I was in college, Daphne was an advisor for a newsletter that I edited. After college, various times I called Daphne for insights, wisdom and guidance. I looked up to Daphne because she was honest with me and wise with her words. Because of a great experience with Daphne as a mentor, I realized that having mentors at various stages of life would be helpful. Subsequently, I have sought out and used mentors at various times in my life. I have used mentors professionally, worked with coaches for personal development, hired a mentor to help me publish my first book and most recently, worked with a woman who has helped me change my health, energy and weight.
Mentors. They really can be a helpful and wonderful way for us to explore and discover things about ourselves, our gifts and talents and how we can give back. Mentoring is not a new phenomenon. The Bible records lots of stories about mentors and mentees. Nathan mentored King David. Jesus coached his inner circle. The apostle Paul took a young man named Timothy under this wing and passed down his knowledge and wisdom to his protégé. One of Paul’s last bits of advice is to now be a mentor to others.
As people of faith, having a mentor and being a mentor are equally important. Yes, we should seek out people who are two, three or four steps in front of us as folks who can help steer the ship of our lives. When we reap the benefits of mentoring, then we realize it’s equally important for us to make ourselves available to others as a mentor. Mentoring goes both ways: we get AND we give.
It’s OK for us to use different mentors at different stages of our lives. Daphne was the mentor I needed at one point in my life. When in full-time ministry, I needed a mentor that had the wisdom and experience of serving churches. This is when Dick became my mentor. Dr. Ellen helped me work through a career change in my life. Lise had self-published books and lead me through this process. Now, I work with Vanessa as she helps me understand how to manage food, energy and caring for my body.
Maybe I could have bumbled along and discovered some things on my own. But it really is more efficient to enlist the help of someone else who has already gone through a similar experience. Likewise, when we see someone struggling, we can share some of our wisdom to help them avoid costly pitfalls. Mentors can journey with us for a long time … or just a season. Likewise, our role with another person may be long or short. Either is right. Neither is wrong.
I have benefitted from having mentors outside of my normal ring of contact. As someone on the outside looking in, they have less bias and can often see insights we might be missing. Through the mentoring process, I have discovered that often, the information or choices are already inside of me. I just need someone to help draw them out of me.
When I mentor someone else, I pray that this is the role I am fulfilling. Both mentors and mentees must enlist the gift of listening. Observing. Guiding. The relationship should be mutually beneficial and edifying.
As much as I wasn’t sure that I should participate in this book study, I am SO. GLAD. I did. The discussion about mentoring was such an important one. As I listened, I recalled and remembered the mentors who have drawn me through some especially important times in my life. I pray that I have been only half as effective while working with mentees that I have been asked to serve.
Think about the mentors who have helped you in this game called life. Whether they were officially a mentor or not, their role has helped shape you. Meanwhile, who is someone that you have been nurturing lately? Who is someone who is a few steps behind you that you could nurture along if they want someone to journey with them? It just as important to be a mentor as it is to be a mentee. We need both sides in our life. If one side is missing, who might be someone that can help fill this role in your life?
For a book study group that reminded me of the value of mentors and mentees, I am grateful.
Dear God – Time and time again, You have brought into my life just the right person to help we journey and walk through a specific time. I pray that You will use me in a similar way in other people’s lives. Thank you for the hundreds of wonderful examples in the Bible of how special and important the mentor/mentee relationship is. Amen.
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