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Published on June 20th, 2013 | by Nathaniel

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Mentors: The Bumper on Your Bumper-Car

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When you think of the word mentor, who or what comes to mind? Sounds kind of mid-century formal, right? I used to picture a leather-maker or a metal-worker teaching a young apprentice the ways of the trade, frequently scolding him for not working hard enough. A blatant misconception. Your mentor has to be of the same gender. Another misconception. It might help but I’ve had female mentors that have taught me more about being a man than some other male mentors in my life. What I’ve learned is that there’s something about the interconnectedness of the human experience that divinely mandates that we learn and grow from each other. So who is a mentor and how can your life benefit from having one?

A Mentor Is…

I like how dictionary.com defines it. “A wise and trusted counselor” or “a wise and influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Therefore, the formalities of the word “mentor” often connotes should be thrown out the window. Anyone in your life has the capacity to be your mentor- a loving family member, caring friend, veteran co-worker; it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve formally posed the “Will you be my mentor” question with longing puppy-dog eyes.

In my previous employment at cable television channel, I had two mentors that I never formally asked to be my mentors. Yet, they would go out of their way to teach me things, invite me to industry events, and hook it up with a lunch, ironically on the day that I forgot mine. It was a humbling experience to have individuals who knew the frustrations a new employee could experience. These two individuals took on the role of mentors because they saw a need and made an investment.

 

The Benefit…

Mentors buffer your life. Have you ever been to Camelot (sorry…you probably haven’t… it’s a Bakersfield play park), a fair, or any other mini-adventure-land? Then you’ve probably been in a bumper-car. Now imagine if your bumper car had no “bumpage”…if it was ALL just…car. It wouldn’t be such a good look, would it? That’s what mentors are there for. They buffer your trajectory through sharing their experiences so you don’t have to experience the impact and ramifications of a head-on collision with no bumper.

A good mentor knows that your life has been orchestrated by God- that their sole purpose is to see you live out the intention to which God has called you for. Now, this often gets tricky because some mentors will steer you into safety, which is a beautiful and caring gesture and comes out of the basic hierarchy of needs that says “we must protect ourselves.” Yet, we have to be careful when adhering to advice that comes from this level; a mentor should take the time and seek God in prayer with and for you over your dreams. Sometimes, God might reveal something to you that maybe He hasn’t yet revealed to your mentor. So use caution and seek God when you receive questionable advice, even from someone you trust.

The Biblical Context…

When I think of mentorship now, I think of Paul’s instructions to Timothy. Paul knew that Timothy would face manifold challenges as he lived out his potential. He knew that he would be tempted, deceived, and discouraged. So in the effort to buffer this, Paul wrote a personal letter to Timothy that is now God’s letter to us.

2 Timothy 2:2- “You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them onto others.”

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