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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mentor me

If you have ever been guilty of making a not so wise decision, you are among the masses!  We all make unwise decisions now and again - it just shouldn't be the regular pattern of our lives!  A decision is a moment or period of time in which we make a determination about one of our doubts or questions we have encountered.  If we think about this a little, every moment of decision is peppered with a little bit of doubt or a question we have to answer.  Go this way or that.  If we go this way, what will be the outcome?  Go that way and will the outcome be vastly or only vaguely different?  A parent's role in life (even those we might call our "spiritual parents") is to guide us into making wise decisions. In essence, they create a culture in which we determine if we will be overcome by our doubts, or tackle the questions which come our way with a great deal of fortitude and determination.

My son, it makes me happy when you make a wise decision. It makes me feel good inside when you say the right things. (Proverbs 23:15-16 ERV)

Some of us may not have grown up with the most attentive of parents.  Perhaps they were the "absentee" type, or even the "disengaged".  Maybe they did their best, but somehow just kept missing the mark.  Regardless of the type of parents we had "naturally", God provides a way of parenting us "spiritually" by those who mentor us in life.  If we link ourselves with a solidly-based, biblical mentor in this life, we can find ourselves being "parented" in the right direction in our lives, even when it means there may be a little "un-parenting" which needs to be done!

I want to take a moment to explain a little about finding a good mentor.  We have all kinds of choices as to who will mentor us.  When I wanted to learn how to be savvy with budgets, I didn't go to a peer who knew even less than I did as evidenced by them consistently being "off-budget" when the monthly financials were posted.  I went to someone who could create a realistic budget for the department and be almost spot-on each month when the financials posted.  Why? They demonstrated how it was done by their actions.  In finding a good mentor one of the first things we can do is observe their life.  We want to see if their actions are consistent with what they proclaim to believe.

When I found my "budgeting mentor", I didn't look for someone who knew all the "loopholes" by "burying" a bunch of money into nooks and crannies in the budget.  Although you might think this is a good tactic, it doesn't bide well with the rest of the managers who have to create lean budgets.  I wanted someone who knew what was ethically correct, provided the right margins of cost to income ratios, and who could help me deliver on my budget consistently.  When we seek mentors, we don't want those who will be "loosy-goosy" in their approach to decision-making, nor do we want those who will be so "hard-nosed" and inflexible that we feel like we have no freedom.  We want balance.

Mentors need to be biblically solid in their beliefs, first and foremost.  If their words say one thing and their lifestyle says another, maybe they aren't the right mentors to be aligning with.  We all have something to contribute to the group of people we align ourselves with - but some will have a better "grip" on living pretty close to the beliefs upon which their life is founded.  A mentor is not a "guide" for our lives - someone who directs our every step.  They are wise, trusted, and able to give counsel when needed.  They aren't our "everyday counsel" by which every decision must be "cleared".  They are there to help us by living as positive examples, creating a culture in which we can grow into fullness in Christ, and to be there when we just need that sounding board.

We may not always make good decisions - acting upon wise principles - but we can go a long way toward learning how to do this a little more consistently when we have positive examples from which we can learn how it is done.  Just sayin!