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Do you need a Mentor?

Do you ever wish you had a person to bounce an idea off? A person who you could ask that un-askable question? Who you could ask that stupid or obvious question, and know they wouldn’t laugh at you for asking?

There are many times in life when an older and wiser voice would be valuable. Sometimes, this person is called a mentor.

When you are a young adult, maybe even still in post-secondary education, you need a mentor to help you understand how to relate to people in the first full-time work responsibility. You also need a mentor to coach you through some of the challenging tasks of the job. Hopefully the situation can be mutually beneficial as you assist the older, more experienced professional in some of the technological challenges.

When you are an adult in your 30’s or 40’s you need a mentor to help you navigate life – work, marriage, family, community responsibilities and juggling all those areas in a 24-hour day! Someone who can share lessons learned, some from success and some from mistakes.

When you are in your 50’s or early 60’s you need a mentor to help you navigate success. You may have climbed as high as you can (or want to) on the career ladder, but still want to contribute in meaningful ways. You have seen your children mature and now grandchildren are coming and you need someone to help you enjoy them and invest wisely in the next generation. You also need to realize that you need to mentor others, if you haven’t begun already.

When you are in your senior years, you need to continue growing, but you should be sharing the wisdom of your experience – both successes and failures – with others.

How to Choose a Mentor

First and foremost, a mentor must be someone you respect. They may or may not be in the same career field as you. They probably will not have a similar situation as you, and they may not have much in common with your life experiences. But you have a great deal of respect for the person because you know their reputation in the company or community as a person of wisdom and integrity.

Secondly, a mentor must be someone who will share honestly with you. If the person already meets the first characteristic (above), they will likely meet this second requirement, though it should not be assumed. Sometimes a very well-respected individual will not want to share their challenges and errors out of fear their excellent reputation will be impugned. So make sure the person you ask to be your mentor is genuinely willing to share their life journey with you. All of their life journey – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Finally, a mentor must be someone who is further along the path. The goal of a mentor is not a friendship, or a peer-to-peer relationships, though a mentoring relationship may lead to a good friendship developing. Yet the goal of finding a mentor is to gain help from one who has already walked the path before you and can help you avoid the pitfalls, find help in overcoming or dealing with obstacles, and navigate the challenges.

So… do you need a mentor? I would suggest everyone needs a mentor.

The real question is, who can you find as a mentor that meets the above qualities?

Its so hard for youth today. Really?

Have you heard someone recently say:

  • “It’s so hard to be a teenager/young adult today.” OR
  • “Young adults face challenges now that previous generations never experienced.” OR
  • “Its never been harder to grow up than in today’s world.”

It is not uncommon to hear these type of statements… from parents, teachers, youth & young adult workers, counselors and clergy. While there is a measure of truth (actually the person who says this is really just stating the obvious!), the strong implication – even if the exact words are not said – is that life is harder for young people today than it ever has been.

high school grad picWhile I am not negating the challenges of being a teenager or young adult in 2017, this strikes me as the epitome of a selfish generation – as was every generation before it! – and shows an ignorance of history’s realities.

Let’s just stop and consider for a moment…

  • If you were a “Western” teenager in the 1950s, chances are at least one of your parents was involved in World War II. In other words, if you were not being raised by a single parent, at least one parent likely experienced what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, in the 1950`s, there were no counselors for them to talk to. No support groups for veterans who were having horrific flashbacks or having trouble sleeping or even functioning because of what they had witnessed in war. They simply got back to work once the war was over.
    It is not discussed much, but a significant number of children grew up in “physically abusive” situations, partly because fathers had no way to deal with the anger of various military memories. They had sudden outbursts and the spouse and/or children took the brunt of the misplaced anger.
  • If were a teenager in the 1960s especially in the USA, you experienced significant racial tension. If you were African-American, it was directed at you, your parents, and your friends. If you were Caucasian, your grandparents, parents, and maybe you probably showed racial preference with other people… even if you did not really believe it was right or necessary. It was dangerous (physically, socially, or politically) to stand up against your side of the battle. History tells us it was a pretty polarizing time!
  • If you were a teenager in the 70s or early 80s, you grew up in fear because at any moment the Soviet Union could start World War III. Governments around the world had their detection systems always active to make sure they were aware of what was flying around in the air. Although I do not personal memory of such an exercise, I have heard others recall practicing emergency procedures at school in case something happened (not unlike similar drills in WWII or school lockdowns in current times).

This is just a sampling of some of the socio-political challenges recent previous generations faced. There were also changing family dynamics and the related challenges this brought to teenagers growing up in a given era.

For example, the two career parents are starting to retire now (aka baby boomers). Thus, they are just beginning to reflect on their work, family, and life experiences and what was beneficial to their physical, mental and emotional health as well as to the well-being of those they loved. They didn’t have anyone to guide them in how to raise healthy well-adjusted children when both parents work outside the home… because (almost) no family had two parents working outside the home until the 1960s allowed this arrangement to be socially acceptable.

And this is just one sociological example among many a person could choose to compare and contrast the different generations in the past 75 years. And people could point to many other changes over the past century. Or the incredible differences of growing up in different eras of history further back than the past century.

So next time someone says, “It’s so much harder to be a young person today!” smile and politely disagree. Indeed, it is very different. But to say it is much harder is both ignorant and arrogant.

A Prayer for Graduates

I confess, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the well-meaning, sincere, but somewhat shallow and comfort-seeking prayers we offer for young people today. If you read Tim Elmore’s articles on parenting this generation, the content of the prayers is not too surprising, really.

Admittedly, I have and probably continue to pray many of these types of prayers myself. After reading Susie Larson’s Your Powerful Prayers and Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker, I have been working continually on being more bold and deliberate in my conversations with God, realizing Who He Is and what He has already done for me as His child, and for all who belong to Christ.

high school grad pic

So with those concerns in mind, I offer this prayer for those graduating from high school and entering into “adult life.” Whether they are going on to post-secondary education or to work for a while before further education, here is my prayer:

O Gracious Heavenly Father, as we commit these high school graduates to you today.
We ask that you would:

  • Slam the doors shut on every opportunity that is not your best. Doors may open that seem good, right or “biblical,” yet if it’s not Your best plan for them, close the door tight we pray.
  • If there are relationships they enter that lead them into sin, we ask in Your mercy to help them see the danger coming and flee. When there are relationships that distract them from you, keep their eyes fixed on You. Stop them, we pray, from beginning friendships that do not help them grow in understanding your world, your heart to see people’s lives changed by the power of Jesus Christ, or that hinder them in any way from following Your good and perfect will.
  • Put them in work (or study) situations where they rely on your strength and your wisdom. Help them to gain work not to make money, to gain fame, or to be “successful,” but to spread the glory of Your Name and share Your grace in whatever context they work.
  • Make them so dangerously impactful for Your Kingdom that they remain in the enemy’s cross-hairs and on his “most wanted list.” Then gird them with all spiritual armor you have provided so they may continue to stand strong in You and Your Word. Give them lots of prayer warriors who will continually uphold them in prayer as they battle.
  • Lord Jesus, you have already provided all the resources they need to be more than conquerors, in and through whatever challenges You allow to come their way in life. Help them to remember that the One who lives in them is greater than the enemy.
  • We pray that you would help them to have bold faith, while recognizing when they are moving impulsively or foolishly. We ask you to give them great discernment to know when to take a leap of faith, and when to walk the slow and steady road of faithfulness. Give them much wisdom to realize the wise counselors you give to them along the way, but never let them be slow to follow You because they are seeking to please friends, family or close advisors.

We ask these mercies in the name of name of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, who have gained us access to the very throne of Almighty God and has given each of these young people His Holy Spirit to lead and guide them into the future.

Amen!

 

Book Review – One Dominion

WOW!One Dominion Cover

I am not a “coffee table book” guy. Why would you ever have a book sitting on a table so that every once in a while guests in your home can pick it up, look through it, read the tidbits of information, and then set it back down? If your home and conversation is so boring guests want to look at a book, just let them leave. (Plus right now we have three children under age 10 so a “coffee table book” is just another source of perpetual frustration for all parties!)

Thus, my first word! WOW! One Dominion is a coffee table book I am proud to own, proud to put on display in our home, and proud to have our guests look through before, during, or after we visit. In fact, it may lead to me more good conversations – about Canada, history, or faith.

One Dominion includes appropriate historical photos of key individuals and events in the history leading up to and including the beginning of Canada as a nation in 1867. Informative vignettes (short-stories) about different people – ranging from education and health care to social and environmental causes – discuss significant as well as lesser-known Canadians and their contribution to this country. The common thread throughout the accounts is the desire to see Psalm 72:8 lived out in the nation.

You don`t have to be a history buff, an amateur photographer, an avid reader or even a person of faith to appreciate this wonderful book celebrating Canada on the occasion of its 150th birthday. I recommend this book for your coffee table… and I`ll be glad to chat about it with you as we visit!

One Dominion is available through Bible League Canada at https://bibleleague.ca/onedominion/, and authors Paul Richardson and Bob Beasley are available for interview.

One Dominion-Celebrating Canada-Prepared for a Purpose
Authors:  Paul Richardson and Bob Beasley | ISBN: 9780995039889
Retail: $29.99 CAN | Pages: 96 |  Size: 12×10 inches | Full-colour

Note: Graf-Martin publishers provided the reviewer with a free copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Book Review – Swipe Right

Although I did not initially connect the title Swipe Right with the subtitle (“The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance”), Levi Lusko connects the two concepts clearly in the introduction. In doing so, he identifies the urgency of the topic for the millennials and Generation Z for whom sexual opportunities are just a swipe away in the digital age.

Lusko writes with an enjoyable mix of humor and sarcasm, though some of his cultural references may be lost on the reader depending on your vintage (ie I understood the Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarznegger joke relating to twins, but not a couple other “cultural references”). He explains the biblical texts with sanctified imagination while at the same time communicating the key principles and truths clearly and strongly. He is not shy in giving black-and-white warnings, yet speaks equal measures of grace and reality. It is enjoyable reading, biblically and theologically informed, and yet not without honest sharing of personal mistakes and pitfalls.

While his writing style is engaging, as a whole the book does not have a clear sequence or logical connection between topics. Furthermore, while there are plenty of strong warnings about the dangers of making poor friendship and sexual activity choices, and the strength and power of sexual connection is discussed appropriately for teenagers and young adults, it stays near the surface for the most part, a little lacking in depth.

Nonetheless, I recommend this book for teenagers or young adults because of its clear presentation of Scriptures sexual standards and the good, loving reasons for such boundaries. I believe they will enjoy reading it as much as this reviewer.

Note: This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

A Playlist for Christian Singles

Are you tired of singing love songs to Jesus?

Whether you are married or not, the number of love songs to Jesus sung some Sundays in churches around North America is comical… if you can get past the annoyance.

However, there are other songs of devotion that are legitimate in discussing worship, love and Jesus. As a young man in my late 20’s and early 30’s, I would turn to a handful of songs to play on the CD (an era before ipods) when I was feeling the angst, frustration, disappointment or confusion (or all of the above) of being single in a society – and even in a Christian sub-culture – that glamorizes marriage and romantic love. These songs helped me focus on the Source of my true contentment, Jesus, and yet expressed the reality of the challenges facing as a single guy who desired a godly wife (I believe the challenges are similar for a single woman).

As you will notice, the songs below helped me (re) focus on Jesus and His perfect will and love being my focus, rather than singleness. It wasn’t always easy. There were some tears once in a while. Yet more than anything I desired Christ to be my desire and purpose for living.

So… here’s my Single Person’s Playlist (admittedly from the early 2000’s)

The Lord did bless me with my wife, Sarah, in 2007 and friends sang Lifesong at our wedding ceremony because just as I wanted my life as single to sing for Jesus, now that is our desire and focus as a married couple.

Here are a couple good articles on the topic of singleness and finding satisfaction in Christ:

I would be curious to know your single person’s playlist. Please share below…

Book Review – Play the Man by Mark Batterson

Just in time for Father’s Day, Mark Batterson has written another quality book, this time touching on the topic of authentic manhood. With a great story from history to start each chapter, Batterson identifies seven characteristics of true manhood. As a pastor, he supports these virtues with biblical passages and examples.

As the book progresses, Batterson refers to the Discipleship Covenant and Rite of Passage ceremonies he worked through with both of his sons. and then includes the specifics of these concepts in the final two chapters.

Batterson is an exceptional writer and great story-teller. Although there is no explanation really offered for the choice of seven virtues or the specific seven he has selected, they are well-chosen. Some may argue the virtues he chose overlap too much, and others could argue the virtues do not encompass all the necessary areas of authentic Christian masculinity (ie significant virtues are missing). Notwithstanding the legitimacy of these concerns, it is doubtful any author would be able to identify “the list” of virtues. Scripture does not seem to give one and thus the challenge.

Another positive of Play the Man is the positive, forward-looking challenge it presents to men, rather than brow-beating them for failure. Also, while clearly approaching the virtues of true manhood from a Christian perspective, I believe the book would be meaningful to any man trying to become a better husband and father, even without the faith perspective.

The explanation of the Discipleship Covenant and Rite of Passage ceremonies are instructive. Batterson clearly reminds fathers to customize both events for the individual, even as he went about them differently with each of his sons.

Batterson has regularly been criticized for treating Scripture loosely, and I suspect some will find reason to again accuse him of such in this book. I see nothing troublesome with his use or explanations of the biblical passages and would contend (again) that those who actually take the time to read the full context surrounding a given passage will find good understanding and interpretation, and necessary cautions and reminders.

I would recommend this book strongly. In comparison with other books of this type (ie. Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis), Batterson’s writing is superior in depth and quality, and more current (understandably). In addition, the soon-to-be-released group study resources would be worthy selections for a local church men’s ministry and/or small groups,

Note: The reviewer was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review by Baker Books.

 

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