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Mentoring Re-defined

by Peggy Hahn

The stakes are high. On Jacob's first night home, less than 3 days old, he woke up during the night screaming. My daughter-in-law Catherine said, “I didn’t know what to do. He was fed and dry, but still screaming. I had no idea if he could sleep with a pacifier so I grabbed my phone. Google said yes, so I crammed that thing in his mouth and we both got some sleep.”

It was that conversation that tipped me off to the new world of mentoring. Generations of new parents would have called their mom to get technical questions like this answered, but today’s parents have, what they perceive to be, a more reliable source—the Internet.

Friends, this is good news.

People are connecting with a widening circle of relationships (friend me!) and have more information at their fingertips than ever before (YouTube, Siri, Wikipedia), so there is no shortage of resources for connectivity.

More good news.

In the midst of this culture-shift, the role of mentor is being re-defined. All of a sudden (or so it seems), we don’t have to spend time on easy-to-answer questions. The space for deeper, more meaningful conversations just got created.

The abundance of opportunities to find information and the many platforms for extending significant relationships online, actually create a new invitation for authentic mentoring. I hope you can grasp what I am saying: We have a larger call to step up as mentors than ever before.

What is at stake are the things that matter most. Our faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith practices. Our rituals, traditions, and values. Catherine doesn’t need her mother or me to tell her how to do the basics. She needs us to walk beside her, whispering gently in her ear, teaching her why it matters that she prays for and with Jacob. She needs encouragement to discipline Jacob as he grows, to start her own family faith traditions. This is what it means to mentor.

Who are you mentoring? Who is mentoring you?

Peggy Hahn serves as the executive director of LEAD, a new organization focused on growing Christian leaders. She continues to serve as the assistant to the bishop in the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. You can learn more about LEAD at waytolead.org.

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