As we dream, there’s one more crucial piece: we need mentoring relationships. (<====Click to Tweet)
Before we get into this topic, I have an admission: I’m a movie junkie. I’m the one in the line on opening night for any movie with a decent metacritic.com score.
There’s a new movie coming out soon—“The Intern” with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. She’s a high-powered dreamer and founder of a big company in a big city. As part of their give-back-to-the-world company culture, she authorizes a “senior internship” program designed not for college or high school seniors, but seniors in life.
Enter DeNiro as the intern, who, according to the preview, brings a sense of class and experience to his slouchy shirt-untucked hipster coworkers. But the best part—and what matters for us as dreamers—is that he becomes a trusted mentor and friend to Hathaway, who finds she doesn’t have to be an island to succesfully achieve her dreams.
It’s a sweet premise. And a tough subject.
Why is forming mentoring relationships so hard?
- Seasoned people (50’s and over) wonder what they have to offer. I have a friend who has led women’s ministries, housed countless college kids and mentored them in life and through school, marriage and now parenting. And after all this time she still falls prey to our society’s youth-worshipping culture and wonders whether her experience is relevant to younger women these days.
- Young people (40’s and under) don’t know how to pursue mentoring. We are so wrapped up in the daily grind—getting the kids ready for school, the laundry done, the dog walked and the work deadlines fulfilled—that we barely have (make) time pursuing friendships with our age-peers, let alone women in a different season of life.
How can both groups bridge the gap and invite dream-mentoring relationships?
1. Realize we need each other.
Because we really do. Look at Paul and Timothy, or Elijah and Elisha in scripture. They needed each other—the more seasoned one to bring a sense of continued purpose and value as they share their wisdom and experiences, and the younger to gain confidence and feel the support of someone who’s trod the path before. The learning and experiencing goes both ways and we both have much to give one another.
2. Have realistic expectations.
Not every relationship is going to be a good fit for one, the other or even both people. Time, personalities, spiritual values, and temperament are all variables. In my search for mentors over the past 20 years, I’ve begun four different relationships and they’ve all had their own unique upsides and downsides.
My first mentor, originally my high school yearbook advisor, ignited and invested in my writing. Perhaps he might have been a mentor still, but his life ended in a tragic accident that took him far too young.
The next two were women, with similar ministry callings and hearts to serve—the first got disrupted when I adopted my two older girls. The second was just not a good personality fit. The one I have now, like DeNiro to Hathaway in The Intern, is an older man who is a fit like nothing I’ve had before. Part brother, part father, part advisor, friend, and coach, it’s such a gift to have someone who challenges and encourages me regularly!
3. Give it a try.
Strike up a conversation at church. Send a message to that ministry friend on Facebook—younger or older—let her know what you appreciate about her and see what happens. Ask a colleague for help on a project and see where the conversation leads. Notice a younger mom at the park where your older kids soccer game happens, and ask how life is going with her much-littler ones.
“I wonder if we’re not all a lot better for each other than we previously thought. . . .I wonder how many people are withholding the love they could provide because they secretly believe they have fatal flaws.” —Donald Miller, Scary Close
What might be a good first step for you to invite a mentoring relationship this week or this summer?
Shared By: Laurie Wallin