Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mentorship Lasts

This is my son, Forrest, with his confirmation mentor, Pete.

Pete started working with Forrest 10 years ago. They've gone to games together, done radio together, and explored their faith. When Forrest decided to get engaged to the lovely Tristan, he called Pete.

Pete has made time for Forrest to go fishing, attend performances, and just eat dinner together. Forrest will never forget the friendship they've built. And neither will I.

The Lutheran church pairs up adult mentors with the youth going through confirmation in order to help them bounce questions off them and grow into their faith. Additionally, studies have proven that the more a youth feels comfortable with 3 or more adults, the more successful that young person will be in avoiding negative decisions.

A mentor is a friend, but an older friend that has a guiding influence. Sometimes they teach skills through a work place, but most often they are someone that guides you through life's ups and downs because they've been there before you.

I've mentored for at least 10 years also. Some relationships are formal and created by the church. Some though, built beyond that and into life long relationships. I'm still in touch with a gal who now has 2 children and lives in Southern Colorado. I think we've been talking for 8 years. She still calls to chat and bounce ideas off me. I listen because I want to. I care about her and how her life turns out. She asks advice and sometimes I give too much:-) I've had to remember I'm her friend and mentor and not her mom! Boundaries are important in forming those bonds.

Mentorship is not a dictatorship. It's a warm, caring situation when you truly desire the best for another person and you have the experience to offer. You could have several mentors in different areas such as work, spiritual, and marriage. I know Pete has had a successful marriage for many, many years. This is an awesome pairing because Pete has been able to offer support to Forrest in all those areas. Sometimes the right person is just the right person. But don't expect everyone to be everything. Most people find a mentor or someone to watch closely and emulate in only one area.

Ask yourself this question, "Who is doing best what I most want to do?"
Then add, "Who do I admire most and would like to be most like?"
Now start people watching. Don't worry if you get told no. You can still study the business or sport or even character traits that draw you to that person and emulate them. Growth happens when you choose a target and work toward it.

Look for a mentor who you'd like to emulate. Ask them to lunch or coffee. Then just get to know them. Try sharing your dream or goal and see if they have an interest in offering friendly, helpful guidance. If you click, ask to talk about the idea of turning to them as a mentor. Then remember to turn around and offer to mentor someone younger than you too.

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