I am really not all that good at anything in particular. Not like my dad at all. The phrase, “Jack of all, master of none”, has been proven as a false statement for many years by my dad. He is absolutely a Jack of all and master of most. My brother seems to have caught that part of the genes, but not me. Nope, not me at all.
I am mostly a “hazard to all, barely passing at best” for so many things. This bothered me for a long time. I wanted to be good at a lot of things, now I just enjoy being merely average or even a bit below average but acceptable in the myriad of things to which I put my mind and hands.
If there is one thing that I think I do a pretty good job with, it is influencing and coaching people.
Not so much coaching T-Ballers. Coaching people in their day to day lives.
The Navy has made it clear that it desires a vibrant, functioning mentorship program within its ranks. The trouble is that the program seems to be a management burden placed on already heavily burdened leaders. The program does not seem to be so active. This is really sad to me.
Businesses use the terms Mentor and Mentorship. The Church uses the terms Disciple and Discipleship. I hear folks in the Church getting their panties in a wad when they hear the words Mentor or Mentorship being used in the context of Christianity. This really saddens me also.
I will write a handful of posts about Mentoring and Discipling. I am no expert at it and I do not make any claims to that. I have been doing this for a little while now and have seen some really great things from it, both in the Navy and in the Church. I have also made some mistakes that have been absolutely devastating to me and those around me… I will write about those too.
A lot of the concepts and ideas that I will talk about apply to more than one facet of our lives. Most of these things can be used in our workplaces as well as in our homes and in our places of ministry or service. If you do not share the spiritual beliefs that I hold, please do not dismiss my opinions regarding mentorship and influential leadership. That said…
What is Mentorship?
To best grasp this concept, lets look at where we get the word “Mentor.” I will tell this story in a super boiled down version…
In Homer’s Odyssey, King Odysseus is leaving for war. He has a son who will one day replace him as king, but his son is still young and needs to be taught, trained, honed into being kingship material. Odysseus goes to a trusted friend of his and asks him to raise his son as though his son belonged to him. As far as I can tell, Odysseus trusted that his son would be a wise king, with the knowledge and the character to reign well, because he would have been raised by his friend who possessed these desired leadership traits and characteristics. Odysseus must have hoped that, when he returned from his war, that his son would sound and act like his friend, value what his friend valued, be passionate about the things his friend was passionate for, essentially being a “chip off the old block” with his friend being the block off of which the son would be “chipped.” This friend’s name was Mentor.
Let that sink in for a minute if you have never heard the story before. Mentor… a character in a story in which his primary role was to raise another man’s son so that the son could one day lead well. Mentor… a trusted man who was tasked with replicating his character, his ethos, his very essence in a boy so that the boy would one day be able to lead his people. Mentor… a man who was chosen to model the values of a kingdom and led his life in a deliberate manor to ensure these values were understood and received.
I really do not understand why some church folk get upset when they hear the word Mentor when talking about one more seasoned and mature Christian helping to develop a less mature Christian… seems like a pretty fitting title to me.
The role of the Mentor is to replicate his life, or an aspect of his life, in somebody else.
In the posts to follow I hope to answer questions like, What is a disciple… What is Discipleship? Why is mentoring/discipling important? How to pick a mentor… What does a discipling relationship look like?
Have you ever been mentored or discipled? How did that relationship start? Did you know you were being developed for a purpose in the beginning? Have you ever discipled anybody else?
If you have questions about this topic or simply want my perspective on some of the things that go along with Mentorship and Discipleship, feel free to ask them in the comments. I will either answer them in the comments or incorporate those things in the posts to follow.