Young Adults & Mentorship

“Iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens before their friend.” ~ Prov. 27:17

I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine this morning.  I’d probably say he’s more than a good friend – he’s a pastor, been so for over a decade now.  It was a good chat, checking in, and getting advice on things.  This is the way of our conversations, and our relationship: it’s helpful to have someone who’s a bit further along in the “game” than I am, someone who I trust will give me good honest insight, who will listen, and who I can test ideas and thoughts off of, and know that he’ll push right back with his own.  Iron sharpens iron indeed: I’m a better person today, in my personal and vocational life because of him.

Which brings me to my thought for today:  Considering young adults (I’m still barely one), how bad do we need mentorship?  As young adults navigate the world: their relationships, the work/vocation, the hopes, dreams, thoughts and opinions on the world, the things they value and hold dear to, and their faith….is mentorship a necessary thing?  I’m not talking about someone who just simply affirms you and makes you feel good at the expense of honesty and challenge – I’m talking about someone who can affirm you in their honesty and challenge.  Big difference…but a life-changing one.

But, on the other hand, are such relationships that important?  There are some who might make the choice that in some ways, such relationships are manipulating, and try to “fit” young adults into categories that they can’t or won’t live in.  They’re guided to take on values and commitments that simply aren’t them.  Some feel pressured, because they’re constantly weighing their own thoughts against the thoughts of those who have more experience, or are better experts…and thus, killing their creativity, their courage to form and strengthen their own character.

As I consider all my seminary friends out there, who are young adults themselves, and in some ways, are committed to helping young adults navigate life and faith, I raise this question to you: “Do you think the presence (or lack of) mentors in the lives of young adults determines the quality of their lives in some way?”  Or more simply put: “Are mentors a positive or negative thing?” 

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2 Comments

Filed under Children, Youth, Family & Young Adult Ministry, Leadership

2 responses to “Young Adults & Mentorship

  1. It’s a delicate issue, to be sure. There are definitely young people who seek out mentors because they know they need them. However, I’ve also encountered folks who are offended by the prospect! Furthermore, I think we always have to remember that mentorship requires a trusting relationship in which many people might not be able to participate for a variety of reasons.

    • Good point on the inclusive-exclusive nature of mentor relationships Peter. I wonder though, “how do we get the ball rolling” though? And, to do it in the way Adam suggests, more “organically.” Thoughts?

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