Mentoring is a popular topic these days. The books on the subject abound. Seminars and workshops on the subject can readily be found. In fact, I have taught in many of them. I am not completely certain of the reason for the increased interest in mentoring over recent time. However, it is clear that people are becoming more and more interested in living right and having the right influences in their lives. [Related concepts include life coaching and spiritual direction/directors.]
Let me take a stab at why I believe there is a surge or resurgence in interest in mentoring. I believe there are a few reasons for the spike in interest in mentoring. First, there is a glut of influence, information and advice on the market and in the cloud about everything in life. Whatever you need help with, it is all there. If you need anything, Google it. Because of the blitz, people are becoming increasingly suspicious of much of what is out there. It is easy to get lots of information and advice. But much of it is conflicting or contrary advice and teaching from too many sources. The end result is confusion or skepticism. Mentoring can provide consistency which allows us to have a higher level of confidence.
Second, and closely related, is that the sources of the web-advice and web-teaching are remote which makes them relationally distant. Whether they are conflicting or not, we can’t really ask pertinent questions that are specific to our need. Much of what we need in life is something more than “plug and play” counsel which does not take into consideration all of the nuances of our situations. And if we have relationship, that gives us something more important than the advice itself. We all need meaningful relationship. And, in our contemporary culture, meaningful relationship is a premium. But, trying to learn how to live life from an Ipad or a laptop or in a seminar is inherently contradictory to learning how to do life. We need to wrestle over issues in life with someone who is living and breathing and has faced similar challenges and opportunities as we have. Life touches life in a way that technology never can. Mentoring does that.
Third, lives worth emulating are becoming rare. People seek mentoring partly because they cannot see many lives worth emulating. It is a sad state on the level of spiritual and emotional maturity when people are looking high and low, far and wide to find someone who lives with integrity, congruence, love and health. The moral bar is so low that people are yearning not only for authentic relationship, but relationship from people who genuinely care- who are not self-consumed or shallow- and who will take the time necessary to accompany someone else on the journey of life.
I believe the idea of mentoring is so valued and cherished now partly because people want to live meaningful lives, but realize that they need people who live meaningful lives to help them. They realize that an alarmingly high number of acquaintances and friends and family are living situationally (ethics and morals), temporarily (for the moment only), selfishly (the self primarily in sight and mind) and inconsistently (professional and personal life gaps). It is difficult to say to such people, “Show me how to live” when they have lived poorly.
So, for those who have wondered about mentoring I would make an enlisting request: we need more mentors. Would you consider being one? If so, then live a life that is worth following. Don’t use the sanctimonious but half-truth verbiage, “People should follow Jesus, not me” since the notion of following another person’s example is clearly a common practice and teaching in Scripture (Philippians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12). Do not shy away from the challenge or the opportunity. Please live a surrendered, loving, forgiven, purposeful, consistent and hopeful life. Live in such a way that others can see your sense of purpose and consistent love and joy. Live with eternity in sight. Live with a heart that is clean and healed from past offences and failures. And, you will become a mentor whether you like it or not. The world is searching. I do not believe this is a fad. I believe it is a necessity created by an increasingly broken and relationally distant world. Find one and be one.