Mentors are a valuable asset in any line of work but, quite often people don’t find mentors in their lives, preferring to go it alone. Oftentimes, however, mentors aren’t offered or given encouragement to take someone under their wing.
A colleague and I were talking about a wonderful young campus minister who we both respect very highly. My colleague has been in ministry for years and this young woman sought her out and asked her if she would mentor her. I wonder how many young people do that? More importantly, I wonder how many veteran workers say “yes” to the invitation to mentor another.
When I was in college, Veteran broadcaster Marty Glickman mentored all of us once a week or so during activity period. He was wonderful and he valued the time spent with us almost as much as we did. It meant a lot to me to be mentored by a legend. I was never able to find as good of a mentor again in radio, although many colleagues were good to me and gave me a lot of opportunities. The business of radio was tough and I was young and inexperienced. In New York there is rarely time to allow for these kind of relationships to flourish because there is a good deal of money at stake and executives have to be focused on that. But I wonder how many mid-level managers would have had the foresight to see the value of mentoring and leading an employee to a better job without fear that the younger person would in fact be a more valuable asset to the corporation by the end of that process than they are.
In my ministry life, Fr. Brett Hoover, C.S.P. was a great mentor who was able to really teach me a lot of good values that I still hold as a minister. Many of my professors at Fordham were able to make me a better listener and a better spiritual director and Fr. Michael Hunt, C.S.P. and Fr Michael Kerrigan, C.S.P. at Paulist Press held my hand through the book-writing process. Most importantly, I think we all learned from one another in a non-competitive way. We focused on making the projects as good as our gifts allowed and were able to bring others along to maximize our efforts. I cherish all of these people and hope that I have been able to express that well to them and that these words are not just in hindsight.
Regardless, mentors, it seems are hard to come by, and in ministry, they may be the lynchpin to everything. In Campus Ministry research shows that trusted professors and other responsible adults as well as peers are the primary sources in the decision making process. Campus ministers didn’t even make the list. So I know that we have to connect with those who are seen as mentors so that we might be able to become another trusted source of mentoring for the students.
Do you have a trusted mentor? Tell us about him or her and what made them special. We’ll give a free copy of Fr. Michael Sparough’s new book, What’s Your Decision? to the person with the best mentoring story.