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The death of a mentor


I was lamenting to someone the other day that I've only had one mentor in my life, and that was my maternal grandfather. Unfortunately, he died in my middle teens, so throughout my 20s and 30s, when I needed a mentor the most, I didn't have one. And it wasn't for lack of trying to find a replacement! I remember on numerous occasions asking folks to be my mentor or apprentice me in some way, but I always received one of two reactions: the person would either outright decline or, more often, agree but never follow up. Either way, I came up short.


My wife can attest, this was a source of much frustration for me through my late 30s. I so longed to have an older man take in interest in me, share his life experiences and wisdom, and "show me the ropes" of manhood. But the well was always dry. Naturally, I went through a period of time when I thought I was doing something wrong or that there was something inherently wrong with me, but I eventually realized that the reason no one assumed the role of mentor in my life was because the mentor had died.


You see, life has become so busy that people have little time to invest in others. Technology, education and career obsession, an explosion of entertainment options, and financial prosperity have combined to create a culture that is...well...fidgety. We can't sit still! We are always on the prowl for the newest gadget, the latest idea, and the most novel expressions of individuality. In the malaise that this creates, we have little time to focus on anything but our own needs and desires. Thus, the mentor--that selfless person who gives of himself or herself for the benefit of another--finds the cultural environment inhospitable and, without the necessary sustenance, eventually dies.


Fortunately, he can be resurrected! But to do so requires a great deal of cultural awareness and intentionality. That is to say, we must first realize that the mentor has been dealt a death blow, and then we must intentionally breathe life back into him. How? By being a mentor to someone! I have come to realize that I'll probably never have a mentor. As a 44-year-old man, I'm past the age when a mentor would be highly valuable to me anyway. But I'm at the perfect age to provide value to someone else.


So, my goal for the rest of my life is to say, "Yes!" to as many potential mentees as I can...to be a source of encouragement and accountability for the next generation. How about you? Will you resolve with me to resurrect the mentor? Sure, he looks pasty and pale today, but with a little resuscitation, we may be able to hear the gasps of life again, and if we're fortunate, maybe he'll stand up and take a few rehabilitative steps.

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