Do You See A Pawn or A King?

A Recent Conversation

I was talking with a teenager a few days ago, and he asked me a question. He said, "Everyone always talks about mentors. Why do we need a mentor anyway?" I smiled.

I hear that question a lot working with young people. So, after smiling, this was my response:

1.   The only people who do not need mentors are dead.
2.   We do not easily take risks. A good mentor will push you to near death risks.
3.   Because we place safe ceilings and walls around our life, we need a mentor who will take them down for us. Otherwise we will die of boredom.
4.   "Anyone who doesn't need a mentor, is either greater than a man, and he is God, or, he is less than a man, and he is a beast." - St. Thomas Aquinas
5.   All of us need someone to tell our successes to. So that they can smile with us. And humble us.
6.   All of us need someone in our life to tell our failures to. So that they can cry with us. And encourage us.
7.   The Bible is filled with 'one another' texts. To live any other way is un-biblical.
8.   If you want to do something you've never done before, you must find someone who has been there and done that.
9.   The mentor in our life will have already made the mistakes, that we haven't made yet.
10. To find a mentor is like a free University Education.

Some final words on Mentors

Pawn or King? I see a king. Even from both perspectives. As a mentor, I see a king when I look at my protege. As a mentee, I see a King when I look at my mentor. Here are a few ways to look at the relationship. One of the most important relationships in our life is the King. Someone who gives us authority. Who has been where we most likely have not been, but, would like to be. He or she may be the King (or queen) of something that is important to you. And we see ourselves through them.

Kings are much like an editor. The person who looks over your shoulder and cuts everything up and leaves it 'on the floor'. Or, a coach. Someone who is trying to pull things out of us and inspire us. Of the fastest growing Master's programs in the country, Executive Coaching is tops. Either way, the King is someone we give access into our life. Someone who will tell the truth. Even if it hurts. This is a person who has a perspective and a relationship with us unlike others. A truth bearer or a welcome intruder. Someone we look to and desire to chase. It takes courage to have a mentor. Because we are probably going to get beat up a bit.

Now, it is not that a mentor is screaming and yelling a bunch of negative things at us all the time. Sometimes it is the way they say something. The tone of voice. When a mentor starts with a story, be aware! It might be a gentle way to bring adjustment. My mentors have given me the straight-forward word of correction at times. And my mentors have given me the kindest words I have heard to encourage me. But, always, my mentors tell me the truth. It must be a person who does not merely highlight our successes and encourage us with comforting words. But, a person who highlights our failures and corrects us with dis-comforting words.

Whether we are a teenager or a young adult, we need mentors. For many reasons. But, maybe most of all for the fact that we should never do life alone. So, why not do life with someone who has walked where we want to walk some day? For the king in all of us, we seek a mentor.