24 and In Search of A Mentor…

April 12, 2011 — 15 Comments

When I was 24 I didn’t even understand what the word mentor meant let alone how to find one. Flash forward 20ish years and I find myself mentoring a handful of young men through various stages in their lives. Sometimes it’s more counseling than mentoring others it’s more directing than mentoring and then there’s the few who I really spend time on.

As we prepared for the re:create cruise I was thinking about what I wanted to ask Michael Hyatt. I knew he leads a group and they started by using the Mentor Like Jesus framework. So I thought I’d ask him to reflect back when he was 24 and give his advice on how to identify a mentor. His answer surprised me…

He didn’t know. But he had a suggestion on where to start looking for the answer. Which his blog has several good resources.

Then I asked Ken Davis. Ken gave a brief explanation of his theory of why there’s a mentoring gap today. He told me (and it makes a lit of sense) that prior to the industrial revolution young men were mentored by their fathers in the trade that their father was in. Hence Jesus was a carpenter. And after the IR, this changed. Men left home for factory jobs and the father/son mentor relationship was lost. When I pressed him for an answer, he too didn’t know.

I was dumbfounded by both of their answers. Obviously I didn’t know, but I expected these two men, whom I greatly admire, to have an answer. As I have reflected on this, I realized that to find a mentor a young man has to be searching for one. Most guys 24 years old are not mature enough to be willing to find, engage and act on the advise of a mentor. The other side of the equation is the mentors. There aren’t many guys willing to step up into the role. The reasons are many and as good/lame as you can think of.

  • I went through the school of hard knocks, so should they.
  • I don’t have the time to spend on some young kid who doesn’t care.
  • I don’t have anything to offer.
  • I’m not a leader.

I have mentored teens and young men for several years now. I have said all the above statements, but I didn’t let that stop me. I love young men. Their energy and attitudes are infectious. They will bring a smile to my face even during the worst of times.

What Ken said really hit me hard. I’m a father. I know several fathers. Some do a great job of mentoring their sons. Others of us just try to get by and do the best we can. If you’re a father, you owe it to your wife and kids to be the mentor they deserve. Don’t know what to do? Start my checking out resources on-line. Talk to your youth pastor for ideas. Most importantly if you do nothing else, spend time with your kids. Doesn’t matter what it is, just do it.

If you had the chance right now today, who do you think could go far with just a bit of guidance? What stopping you from reaching out and offering your help?

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15 responses to 24 and In Search of A Mentor…

  1. 

    Good post. I have ideas on why we have lost the art of mentoring, but would value info on how to find a mentor. At 65 I have been and need to continue being a mentor, but even at my age, I would love to be mentored.

    • 

      thanks for your thoughts Ken. I too have a couple of mentors. My pastor being one of them. Without others speaking into my life, I find I fall back into be me focused instead of others focused. BTW, you’re work is really good stuff. I look forward to your upcoming work.

  2. 

    Wow! too comments back to back! How’s that for mental quickness? I edited the first one and resent it!!!

  3. 

    Great thoughts. Even though I’m not 24 and not a young guy, I’m going to jump in anyway. I’ve only had mentors by default. Most of mine I’ve found in books, honestly. I don’t even know if there’s protocol involved. Do you ask someone to be a mentor?

    I like Lisa Bevere’s thought that could translate across gender that we need more mothers, rather than mentors, because mothers actually want more for their children than they ever had. I’m sure we could say the same of fathers … Of course we’re not just speaking of biological fathers and mothers here. Just a shift in perspective.

    • 

      Hey Idelette! Thanks for stopping by. You have a huge impact through your work on she loves. You’re a huge motivator for others. Keep at it!

    • 

      I’m curious as to why it seems that mentoring is a male-specific thing. As a 24 year old female, i can attest that i too need a mentor. I’ve been lucky enough to have some excellent mentors that have filled a gap left by an absent father, but many don’t get to experience this. All this to say…young women need mentors too!!!

      • 

        Hi Allison,
        First – it’s not a guys only club! I completely agree on the need for female mentors. I didn’t tread into those waters for 2 reasons:
        1. I’m a guy. My life manifesto is a reflection of how I’m trying to live my life as a man, leader, father, husband. I feel that my mentoring a female is a bit too close to the line for me – tho I have coached ladies in the past. Men are failing our country across the board and I get my soapbox out often to call it like I see it.

        2. Probably more importantly. My wife is a huge advocate of female mentors and the lack there of. She had blogged on the subject in the past at http://www.sherimackey.com I suggest you look at her “School of Hard Knocks” series (list on the right).

        I will also add that Sheri has mentored teen girls for several years. As part of that, I have played a sideline role in modeling how a husband should treat his wife – a lesson missing in many of today’s homes.

        Thank you for standing up for the ladies in the house! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.

  4. 

    I’m 10 years past 24 but here’s my experience. Guys who could benefit the MOST from mentors (leadership potential, willingness to learn, show initiative, etc) are not the ones that are identified as needing mentors. We could ALL benefit from mentors but the good mentors are generally directed towards the “trouble” kids first.

    Idelette’s comment about protocol of mentorship is a good comment. Nobody talks about how to go about asking someone to be a mentor and the best mentors often feel awkward about offering their services.

    • 

      Hi Chris,
      I agree that it’s a tough thing to accomplish. In fact through this, I have decided to spend much of the rest of this year researching and sharing on this subject. There are too many people who could mentor (think baby boomers!) but don’t know what to do or how to get started. There’s also a generation out there wanting wisdom and guidance.

      Sounds like a Randy Elrod “Passion and Need Intersection” – which is another blog post I have in progress
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Steve

    • 

      agreed Chris. Almost like “that kid seems to be doing good on his own, he doesn’t need my help”

      • 

        Hi Kyle,
        I’ve seen so many young men overlooked because they appeared to have it all going for them – good parents, schools, etc. Only to end up with major problems later because they were largely ignored for this very reason. It’s a tough call. One in which there are no right and wrong answers – hence why I believe so many mentor ready guys pass on the opportunity. They don’t perceive the need in their circles, but it’s there if they scratch the surface.

        I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to jump in on the topic.

  5. 

    Great post! I firmly believe that fathers and husbands have such a challenging, yet vital role of being a direct reflection of who God is to their wives and their children. The only way I have been able to sustain the tragedies in my life has been because my father was not only my mentor, but my best friend growing up. I understand God to be a loving, compassionate, incredible and gracious Father, because this is what I saw in my dad. Us women, need to be praying for our men as husbands and fathers – I sure wouldn’t want this responsibility!

  6. 

    I’m 24, I have been talking about mentoring for the past 3 years and the great divide that separates mentors and mentorees.
    I think you hit on some great points here. It is a two way street.
    I often have sat there very frustrated that I could not find a mentor. I would search and ask, search and ask, only to be met with a no or a what do you want to learn from me? I changed my attitude and started to just step back and see if anyone would approach me about mentoring me. That never happened.

    Today, I have continued to search for mentors but I have also realized that even though the relationships I have today are not the exact mentoring relationships that I have wanted (meeting once a week or twice a month type thing) I still have mentors who pour into me and care for me. I feel like I am one of the ones that are blessed to have older men that speak into my life.

    I talked with a friend the other day who had someone in mind that he wanted to be mentored by. He approached the guy and asked to be mentored. The guy said yes. But that was it. Nothing ever came of that. Mainly because every time my friend asked to meet the guy was busy.

    It is an epidemic that I think will continue to rise if we do not put a stop to it. I think you can blame the recession, divorce rate, and even crime rate on the lack of mentoring in the world today.

    but it is definitely a two way street.

    I have written a lot about this in the past and especially to 20 somethings. I have talked with a lot of 20 somethings who are desperately looking for mentors but do not know where to find them. The need is huge.

    Thanks for calling attention to this.

    • 

      Kyle! You’re breaking my heart bro! I hate hearing stories about people wanting to be groomed only to run into a brick wall and no help.

      This is why I think the work that Ken, Mike and Randy (and others, but we’ll keep it to the re:create crew for now) are doing is so important.

      You’ve struck a nerve… Now I have to think about what to do… ugh! I can stand here or start something…

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