During different seasons of my life God has blessed me with some incredible people to walk the journey with. Some have walked with me just a short while…a season or two…while some have seen me through several seasons. Dr. D is one of those people. He is someone who believed in me more than I believed in myself…and at times that’s probably still the case.
I met Dr. D near the end of my freshman year of college. I was a very eager Education major who had just been recruited to be the president-elect of the student education association on campus. Dr. D was the faculty advisor of the group and was a bit concerned because he didn’t know who I was. So, he called me into his office for a chat. I remember leaving that day knowing there was something different about him…he wasn’t your ordinary college professor. And there still is. If you met him, you’d see it to…I’m certain.
Dr. D was and is a natural mentor. He loves people and he invests in relationships. And he invested a ton of time in me and my journey in college. He’s seen me through more seasons of life than much of my family has. He was the one who told me it was okay to walk away from teaching. He was the one who taught me to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. He always pushed me one step further than I would push myself and somehow managed to find a way to make me think it was my own idea. But, most importantly he led me to the top of the cliff…the spot where I could get a 30,000 foot view of life…a place where I could get a glimpse of what was possible. And without a view like that, I think we can all only go so far. Unfortunately most of the time that isn’t a place we can get to on our own.
I had the chance this summer to catch up with Dr. D in a wonderfully lengthy conversation over coffee and tea, and it got me thinking about the art of mentoring. These ideas are still processing in my head…but I’m pondering how we capture and define the act of mentoring. And how we can teach the art of it…or even if we can teach it.
At the end of the day we are all better for it if we have mentors who speak wisdom into our lives, who encourage us, but who also love us enough to call us out and force us to be honest with ourselves. Oftentimes these people truly to believe in us more than we believe in ourselves and usually know us better than we know ourselves. And being a mentor truly is an art…one that I’m not sure comes naturally to most of us. But I also think it’s key to the success of future generations, of the growth and forward motion of the church so I believe it’s an important art to teach and to learn. The question becomes, how?