The Life-Transforming Role of Mentoring
I’m deeply grateful for the many mentors in my life. While some might be surprised to know they helped mentor, influence, and guide me, others had a more direct or a formal role in the shaping of who I am today. I met some of my most influential mentors after they had died—through their books. Now some of my mentors are younger than me. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. Sometimes they are lifelong mentors, and other times they are with us for a season.
Lately, I’ve been trying to find the time to thank the people who have made a difference in my life. It has been a great exercise in the life-transforming role of mentoring. I’m convinced that anyone who achieves something significant has been inspired by a mentor along the way. Who are your mentors? Who has deeply affected your life? When I am speaking in a workshop, I sometimes ask people these questions. I’m always amazed how many times they say it was their mom or dad, or a grandparent, coach, teacher, or pastor. Seldom do the greatest influencers turn out to be famous. Rather, they’re the people who saddled up next to them, believed in them, and pointed them in the right direction.
Are you investing in others? In a healthy parent and adult child relationship, we get the chance to mentor our kids. It doesn’t always come easily, but we can mentor our adult children when they invite us into their lives. We must remember that unsolicited advice is often taken as criticism and that waiting to be asked for our advice or influence can sometimes be difficult. But speaking from experience, I can tell you it’s worth the wait. Are there others you can be influencing and mentoring? Someone at work, in your church, in your neighborhood? Just this weekend, a young couple we know well introduced us to two of their friends. They enthusiastically said, “Meet Jim and Cathy. They are the mentors in our marriage that we told you about.” Later, I asked Cathy if she knew we were mentors to them, and she smiled and said, “I had no idea.” It gave us great joy to know that somewhere along the road, we had helped them. Here is what I have found over the years: when one person mentors, two lives are changed. At the end of your life, few will talk about your material achievements. Rather, they’ll talk about how your influence transformed others’ lives.