Reposted from Radical Mentoring
It’s always humbling when I confess to ‘flying solo’ through most of my adult life. So many mistakes that could have been avoided . . . pain not inflicted. A huge hunk of my calling is to be for a few younger guys what I wish someone had been for me. As I’ve become a mentor, I’ve discovered three stages . . . three seasons when a mentor could have made a huge impact in my life. These three critical seasons are the times when we most need the help and influence of an ‘older brother’ or ‘older sister.’ I call them career-centric, family-centric and time-centric.
The first . . . the career-centric stage, starts in our 20’s and early 30’s. We’ve finished our education and are starting to get big-time strokes in our careers. The “environment of acceptance” in our lives is definitely at work, even though by this stage we may have a relatively mature marriage and small children. Our natural tendency is to put jobs and careers first, even though as Jesus-followers, we would never admit it. We just ‘cast our vote’ every day by where we spend our time and mental energy.
The second is the family-centric stage, following into our 40’s. Our career commitments have somewhat stabilized but the demands of our families have maxed out. We traded the romance of our marriage for busyness and our peace for the constant pressure of our kid’s activities (and often their rebellion). Our children dominate our lives, our conversations, our social calendars, and our prayers. Career is in high gear, so the demands are not lessened there; it’s just that our experience gives us enough competence to deal with them with less adrenaline and more composure.
The third season is the time-centric stage, moving into our 50’s and 60’s. Our kids have matured . . . often they are off in school or out on their own. We are suddenly offered many more options as to how we spend our time. We aren’t needed as much by our spouses and children as we once were. Many of us sense that this is the season of our lives when we should begin to ‘give back,’ we just don’t know how.
There is a huge need and a huge opportunity for a willing mentor to make a difference in the lives of guys in each of these age groups. God often takes us back to the season where we found Him . . . where we we’re the most needy and broken . . . and uses us to ‘pay it forward’ to the younger guys walking where we’ve already walked. There is no joy like the joy that comes when we invest selflessly in someone else for their spiritual good.