January is National Mentoring Month. It was established in 2002 as a campaign to promote youth mentoring, but mentoring should not be limited to just the youth. It is something we should practice throughout our entire lifetime. Twenty years ago, I started an organization called, Forgiving For Living, Inc., where we mentor and pour into the lives of girls between the ages of 12 – 17. We provide them with skills that can help them make positive choices for their lives. Of course, we are not the only organization doing such good work and there are many national and local organizations whose mission is to sow into the lives of youth on a regular basis, but individuals from all walks of life and at every age could benefit from a good mentor.
As a youth I didn’t really understand the importance of having a mentor or what a good mentor looked like. I remember seeing people that I looked up to, or possibly even idolized, because of the way they carried themselves or because of the things they accomplished, but I didn’t label them as a mentor. Mentors have the power to influence our lives in such a way that can have positive or negative outcomes. Therefore, we must understand how important it is to be careful who we allow into this space. We must also be mindful of this when we are the mentors. We never know when someone may be watching us from afar and we end up serving as a mentor without our knowing.
Let’s not forget, all of us are standing on the shoulders of those that came before us. We owe it to others to provide guidance in any way possible. I’ve heard some people say they don’t want the responsibility of being a mentor because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. Shame on you! We all have something we can share and give to someone else. Being a mentor is a privilege and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It doesn’t even have to take a lot of work or time. Yes, it will take a little bit of your time, but what is really needed is a little willingness, patience, kindness and compassion. I believe we can all give just a little bit of what is needed. The question is, who are you throwing the ladder down or across to?
Approximately five years ago, Barbara Perkins wrote a book called, “The Magic of Mentoring: Pearls of Wisdom,” and she asked me to submit a chapter and share my opinion. As I sat down to write this piece, I pulled out her book and reflected on my previous thoughts. What I wrote back then and what I am sharing here today still line up with my core belief that it is important for us to share pearls of wisdom that we have gathered along life’s journey. Over the years I’ve tried to string together knowledge and information that I felt would be valuable in helping others. Of course, Barbara, who has mentored many along her journey, couldn’t stop with just one book on mentoring; she has just released another book with more pearls of wisdom. Thank you, Barbara!
The Bible shares three different people that, in my opinion, wrap up nicely the circle of mentorship. Paul, Timothy and Barnabas. Paul was a teacher, Timothy was a student and Barnabas was an encourager. All of us should have a Paul, Timothy and Barnabas in our lives and we should also be a Paul, Timothy and a Barnabas in at least one person’s life. Who are you mentoring today?
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