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The Difference of a Mentor.
A water set.
What is a Mentor?
Have you ever had a person in your life that you looked up to? Someone who wasn't your parents or family but treated you as one of their own. Someone who could guide you and help you reason through your problems? If so then you have had a mentor. A mentor according to Webster is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.
To me it means much more.. it means that you have a friend closer than a brother and more stable than your parents. The mentor is not someone who has to love you because of a physical relationship but someone who wants to and someone who will help you work through your problems not just tell you what to do. A mentor is wise and kind and is never condescending or presumptuous. They are not arrogant or conceited and are always anxious to help and would never gossip about you behind your back.
Have you ever experienced a true Mentoring relationship?
Finding a Mentor
Finding my mentor came as an accident. I was checking my traps that I had set for raccoon and beaver and pretending to shoot enemy ships down from the shore of the creek with my BB gun, I was walking along the creek near my house and my mentor walked up to me and started to talk. I was not too sure whether to trust him or not since to my knowledge I had never met him. Then he said his name and I knew that I could trust him. I had heard my dad and brother speak of him before. They had said that if I wanted to learn how to trap that what I needed to was to get in good with this guy because he could catch anything. Well, that is exactly what I intended to do. Before I knew this guy was my best friend and still to this day we stay in touch, although we do not have the same mentoring relationship as we had when I was growing up, we are still close and enjoy spending time talking.
My new mentor and I used to spend the days on the creek or coyote hunting on a regular basis. His trap line spanned miles and so we spent lots of time in his pickup running between sets, and just talking. He told me stories from his childhood and about things that happened, not all good though as you might think, many of the stories were not the typical with a happy ending, they were more the kind to make you take notice of what was going on around you and think about how it was going to affect you.
The stories that he told, whether good or bad always had a message or a type of moral to them. Thankfully they were easily remembered by a young boy who had similar interests and wanted to be like his mentor. These stories of yesteryear made their impact on a young country boy and steered me clear of many of the problems that the youth of today face. Problems with drugs, alcohol, and with friends. These stories not only taught me what not to do but also what not to do, and the reasons not to do them.
Simply put the way that a mentors function depends upon what they are trying to accomplish. My mentor functioned as my friend and teacher and builder of my self-esteem. He encouraged me in my ability and taught me from a standpoint of compassion. He was always willing to talk and always willing to explain anything that I didn't understand. He kept me engaged in thoughtful conversation and thinking about things that were greater than myself. He and I did not see eye to eye on every subject, including politics... but that was never what it was about. I simply did not address those issues that were inconsequential for what I was trying to glean from the relationship.
One of the tools that mentors use is a diversion. This takes the attention off things that do not deserve the attention and places it on something that is worthy and wholesome. For instance, my mentor saw my older brother making poor decisions in many areas of his life so he created a diversion. He started to teach me a few chords on the guitar and started to spend more time with me. Something that honestly would have been better coming from a parent, but all the same, he was the one that it came from. He also intensified the lessons on trapping and started me reading magazines that he had saved for years about trapping and hunting. This took all my attention and interest and so I was steered away from the path that took my brother's life.
Would you be willing to be mentored if you had the opportunity?
Another way that mentors work is through encouragement to always do the right thing and leave the wrong things alone. A mentor will try to steer the life of their child or friend in the direction that is best not for the mentor but for the person being mentored. In life, we all could use a little advice now and then and should actively seek out someone of greater wisdom and experience to help us over the hurdles that lie ahead.
Encouragement from someone who is a little further down the road in life and has acquired more wisdom along the way is a great booster for someone who is struggling. There are many types of encouragement and some are better than others depending on the person but all will serve to lift the spirits. Mentors are called to look out for the good of the person in their charge, however, the person being mentored also needs to offer encouragement to their mentor. Encouragement is a spirit booster for anyone and even someone who is great at edification and building other people up need to be built up from time to time as well. So don't just be mentored but be your mentor's best advocate and friend.
Would you mentor someone else if you had the chance?
Long Term Relationship
He is still my best friend to this day and he will be 83 years young in just a couple of months. Our relationship has stood the test of nearly 30 years. I still call him from time to time and talk about the old times on the creek and of what is going on in my life. Honestly, if it hadn't been for him and my strong belief in God there are several things that I may not have made it through. Even after I moved out of my parent's house this man gave me advice that was invaluable, and although we do not speak as frequently we are still like peas in a pod and I feel there is still much to learn from this man who has always been smart beyond his years.
Will you seek out a mentor for yourself?
Better Late Than Never
As recently as last year I began a new mentoring relationship with a respected member of a church which I used to attend. He was an elder in the church and well respected in the community. I counted it a privilege to be mentored by this man and came to respect him even more through the last almost year that we have been meeting weekly. He has taught me to be more in tune with my family, and my God than I had ever been. The best thing that he has taught me is that it is important to replicate myself by mentoring others.
In conclusion, the mentoring relationship can be rewarding for both parties and can help all involved. The mentor may get nothing but a sense of accomplishment but, that is something that is worth it to those who choose to mentor. The relationship is rewarding for the person being mentored because they learn from the mistakes of the mentor in their younger years, or possibly in the years that they how should we say... lacked intelligence. All in all the relationship will benefit both because of the friendship that will be formed.