• Articles
  • What Is Mentoring?

    In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of Christopher Langan, a genius with a IQ of 195. During high school, Langan could ace any test by skimming the textbook 2-3 minutes before the exam. He got a perfect score on his SAT. But, as an adult, Langan failed to use his exceptional gifts and ended up as simple laborer, because he never had a supportive community to help him capitalize on his gifts.

    Gladwell summarizes Langan’s life in one sentence: “He had to make his way alone, and no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone.”

    Most of us don’t come close to an IQ of 195, but we have a great advantage over Langan. We are surrounded by a community that is willing and able to help us capitalize on our gifts. It is in seeking the wisdom of others and being willing to put it into practice that makes the difference. This is the meaningful impact of mentoring.

    “Those who yearn for wisdom generally find it. Those who wish for it, generally miss it.”

    These words of wisdom by one of my Mentors, Fred Smith, caught my attention and made me reevaluate my search. Like many of you, I have read or heard of others whose lives have been greatly changed or improved by finding the perfect mentor or coach. I was curious.

    Perhaps you have been hoping for a mentor, believing that they will have all the answers to your questions and will show you, step by step what you need to do in life. I was, also, until I reread that quote and realized that it was my responsibility to do the searching.

    Rubel Shelly says “A key to success in every profession or business is teachability.”

    But…..it is our responsibility to cultivate a teachable spirit.

    “The character of Teachablility has two aspects: one is being a learner and the other is to pass it on, to share insights and what we have learned with others to disciple them ,” says RJ Krejcir.

    A real mentor is more of an encourager, guide, one who challenges you to discover answers through seeking and learning yourself. Growth comes as a personal responsibility. I discovered in my search for wisdom that the key was developing “mentoring eyes,” and maintaining a teachable spirit. That means looking for and recognizing divine appointments and growth opportunities as they cross our paths, continually seeking out opportunities to learn in everyday situations. It means discovering the riches of wisdom that are to be found in the simple dailyness of encounters in our work, families, communities and churches. It is living with the expectation that God speaks, through the Holy Spirit, in many different ways, through people, past, present, whether it be personally, or in books, cd’s, speakers, movies, radio, and television.

    As we develop “mentoring eyes,” the habit of intentionally looking for lessons in everyday life, we will find that many “teachable moments” surround us. During a very difficult time in my life I was struggling with the unfairness of what had happened. I couldn’t understand why God was allowing this situation. While reading a Catherine Marshall book, God spoke to me as He had to her. I had to learn that presumption, and the desire to be in control led me to believe I had the right to tell Him what to do, and the gall to believe I knew better than He did.

    Where do you need guidance in your life? Experience shows that if you will look, with “mentoring eyes” and a teachable spirit, God will provide the mentors you need.