Young Adults & Mentorship, Part 2.

So I’m adding on to this theme, and mainly because a good friend of mine called me out:

“…where do you stand on this question? It is not that you need to give us the “right” answer, but why should I read your blog if you are just asking questions?”

And he added, that is the reason why people DON’T comment, which is my goal and hope is that they do.  So now I all expect you to comment (ha!), because here it comes…..my response, or my “stance” on this question.

As much as I see two sides to the whole mentoring thing, (check out my previous post) I think mentorship IS important because it offers what I think people are craving so much of these days: authentic relationships, connection…true community.  I see it coaching my wrestlers all the time: they come to fully realize the stress and impact of relationships that are transactional – they’re based on results, what you do for me, what is the outcome or output of this relationship.  Now, there are always expectations to every relationship, to be sure.  But transactional relationships….that’s what I expect out of business or work partnerships, not relationships of deep connection, authenticity, and vulnerability.

It’s a widely known fact that adulthood is being pushed later and later into people’s lives – their 20’s, even early 30’s in some extreme cases.  And this goes well beyond simply getting a job, being financially stable, and finding a life-long partner.  What’s being pushed off is the understanding that relating – to the world, to other people, to one’s self, and to God – cannot be understood as a transaction.  That’s exactly how we treat young kids if we think of it: from how much time they spend on homework, watching TV, getting them to eat vegetables, doing chores, and on and on….it’s one transaction after another.  And in the context of childhood, that makes sense, developmentally and cognitively.

But the path to adulthood, to relating to the world and people has to be transformational.  And in order to do that, to be transformed, one has to be able to be in relationships where one can test and be tested, affirm and be affirmed, challenge and be challenged, love and be loved.  And as I look at the mentors in my life, that’s exactly how I would characterize those relationships.

How vital is this?  I think it’s huge…there are books coming out, talking about the “crisis” that exists with young adults.  Shoot, sit around a table full of older people, ask ’em what they think about today’s generation, and they’ll tell ya exactly the same thing: young adults in some way, are in trouble.  And while it’s because we’re delaying adulthood, it’s to the surface-level stuff that’s the problem.  It’s the relational stuff….giving and earning respect, honesty, integrity.

I wish I knew where the church fit in this.  Lean too far right, you’re passing off morality.  Lean too far left, accountability seems to get left out.  But I think there’s something to this, something at stake….and it’s worth wrestling with.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Young Adults & Mentorship, Part 2.

  1. When I think of mentorship I think of a mutual relationship between two people. You can’t be a mentor or have a mentor if you or the other person don’t want that kind of relationship. So in that sense I think mentorship is good rather than bad. A mutual relationship with another person assumes trust, integrity, honesty, all the things you talk about. Now, when we talk about quality of life with or without mentors, it’s a tough question to answer. I wouldn’t want to tell someone without this kind of relationship that the quality of their life is lesser than someone with mentoring relationships. And that’s probably the problem: we’re too busy telling people that what they need instead of trying to find ways where these kinds of relationships happen organically and meaningfully. I do think mentoring relationships improve the quality of one’s life, I just think we need to find more ways to let it happen. I’ll tell you, our mentoring program at church here, pairing Confirmands with Adults of the congregation, is one of the coolest and most important things I’ve seen this year in ministry. Great things are happening there and all it takes is providing a space and place for it to happen.

    • Adam,

      I agree wholeheartedly with you. You are right; most churches do it in a way that’s awkward, forced, and artificial. I kind of brings me back to the point you made in your most recent post. People can’t simply “relax” now days. Relationships that are for the sake of nothing more than enjoying each other’s presence….that’s certainly transformational, don’t you think? Gets us away from the transactional relationship…..which is what I think is kill society, and the church today.

      Maybe you’re right…we stop trying to make it “work” and just let it happen. I wonder if that would fly in every context though….

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