Significant Mentors

mentor.gifI finished a great book today.  The book is entitled Mentoring: The Promise of Relational Leadership by Walter Wright.  Wright is the former President of Regent College and is presently the Executive Director of the DePree Leadership Center at Fuller Theological Seminary.  The book is a great read, and my copy has now been marked with my yellow highlighter.  

 
I first heard of Wright a few summers ago.  I was taking a summer class at Regent College and he was teaching another class during the same session.  One evening he hosted a special session on "Leadership" for anyone who wanted to come.  That evening was probably one of the highlights of my trip.  He was unassuming, practical, and a good thinker.  He showed a film illustrating some of the dilemmas of leadership.  The discussion following the film and his keen observations were very good.  

 
In this book, Mentoring, Wright shares much practical advice regarding the role of the mentor and the role of the one being mentored.  One of the most helpful aspects of the book are his observations regarding different individuals who mentored him.  He also discusses what he has done with those he has mentored.  

 
I have been blessed by several people who have had a significant role in mentoring me (though I don’t recall ever using that word with any of these people).  I have also been blessed to be a part of two of Lynn Anderson’s mentoring groups, which encouraged me in a number of ways.  As I was reading this book, I thought about some of the people I have had a part in mentoring (though, again, I don’t know that we ever used that word to describe the relationship).

 
Note this paragraph that reflects the author’s view of mentoring: 

 "… Leadership is a relationship — a relationship of influence.  It is an investment of ourselves in others to influence their vision, values, behaviors, or actions.  Leaders exist to serve the people who look to them for leadership, to help the followers realize their potential so that they may successfully contribute to the mission that brings leader and follower together.  Leadership is not about the leader.  Mentoring is not about the mentor.  It is about the people served.

 
(Wright, Mentoring, p. xxviii)

As you think about those who have mentored you, what names come to mind?  What is one thing you learned from a mentor? 

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  • http://benoverby.wordpress.com/ ben overby

    I’ve had lots of teachers.  I don’t think I’ve really had a mentor (except in business).  Teaching, in our culture, can be really non-relational.  I pray that we get better at doing discipleship.  A lot of mentoring can happen in small groups in the same way that Jesus mentored His little group. 

  • http://gregengland.com Greg England

    Jim: I’ve not responded in a while due to the hectic days I’ve had recently, but I’m still reading you daily.One of my greatest lessons from a mentor is simply the example of how to grow old with grace and a teachable spirit. It comes from a man in our church who served as an elder for almost 50 years and became more and more grace-oriented with each year. I hope I can do that in my older years. What an encouragment to me as a believer and as a teacher. 

  • Steve

    Mentors have been many:

    Howard Oliver, a biology teacher at Freed-Hardeman who was one of my home church preachers in my youth and later a teacher of mine, who gave me my first opportunity to preach

    William Woodson (Bible Professor at Freed-Hardman) who convinced me to stay in college when I was ready to cash it in.

    Rubel Shelly, Dowell Flatt, and Clyde Woods (Professors at Freed-Hardeman and later friends) who early on taught me to think for myself and that truth has nothing to fear from investigation.

    Stephen Broyles who not only taught me Koine Greek, but instilled a burning desire to know God at this level.

    Annie Mae Lewis, Jack Lewis, Carol Osburn, Harold Hazelip, and Velma West (Harding Graduate School of Religion) who showed me that scholarship does not have to be dull or boring and that preaching is enriched and deepened by knowledge of the original sources.

    John Wimber (Vineyard Fellowship Church and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary) who introduced me to heart felt worship.

    My paternal grandfather who wanted all of his grandsons to be preachers and who prayed me into it even though I went kicking and screaming.

    Peace.

  • Jen

    God has given me many mentors: Derek McNeil, who has taught me love across racial boundaries, how to fight, how to wrestle, how to trust God and trust myself.  This man chose to invest in me, and has continued to do so for the last six years of my life. My women supervisors, who have shown me many methods of expressing a whole and balanced self through being mothers, wives, and psychologists.Debbie Blackshear, who has given me the privilege of mentoring her precious daughter, and who has allowed me to see her gifts and weaknesses as a mother and as a woman.Humility, confidence, patience, trust, faith, and love.  Each of these has been given me in various ways through these mentors, and I am grateful to pay them and the Lord homage for the ways they have shaped me.  Selfishly?  One thing they each have taught me is that God sees me worthy to invest in, as his beloved, as evidenced by these wonderful people he places in my life.  AMAZING!   

  • Arlene Kasselman

    I remember a Sunday School teacher, Marlene Kapp who never stopped guiding me.  She saw something in me and gave me "the blessing" and still continues to do that, across the ocean and decades.
    I remember working for Jack Reese and Charles Siburt at ACU and having their love, support, guidance and spiritual direction.  They changed my life and I count them as friends.  I remember Jim Mankin and how he invested in my Biblical education and held out a standard for me.
    As David GA’d for David Wray during Grad school we were also blessed to have him as our Sunday school teacher and Elder.  Here is what I learned.  Whether David Wray shows up in the classroom, the lecture hall, the church or the hospital room – you get the same man. Full of love, ethics, integrity, the spirit and wisdom.
    I can think of the Hadfield family who as a family mentored our family. How we shared times of food, fellowship, worship and fun.
    Obviously there is Lynn Anderson.  His mentoring group and just his friendship.  Lynn makes you feel like you are the only one in the room whenever he talks to you.
    I could go on and on. The common thread is that these people are invested relationally and they are living in such a way that they bless life and infuse joy and the spirit into all those dealings.  They are extravagant with their words of blessing and their actions back that up.

  • http://chris.preacherspen.org Gallagher

    What a statement the author makes when he says,

    "Leadership is not about the leader.  Mentoring is not about the mentor.  It is about the people served."

    Tremendous thoughts! I might be getting that book shortly.

  • Jim Martin

    Ben,Thanks for distinguishing between a teacher and a mentor.  I think there is an important distinction to make there. 

  • Jim Martin

    Gallagher,Isn’t that great?  The book has much more.  Enjoy. 

  • Jim Martin

    Arlene,I love the way you put this!  What a way to describe those who have invested in your life."The common thread is that these people are invested relationally and
    they are living in such a way that they bless life and infuse joy and
    the spirit into all those dealings.  They are extravagant with their
    words of blessing and their actions back that up."

  • Jim Martin

    Jen,Like Arlene (above), I love the way you express your love and admiration toward those who have invested in you."One thing they each have taught me is that God sees me worthy to invest
    in, as his beloved, as evidenced by these wonderful people he places in
    my life.  AMAZING!"

  • Jim Martin

    Steve,You and I have been blessed by some of the same people.  Reading your list reminded me of some people in the past who have blessed me richly.

  • Jim Martin

    Greg,How wonderful!  To have someone you can look to who is teaching you how to grow older.  What a blessing!