Influencers and Mentoring

I was talking to a Teach for America friend.  Meaning someone who is just starting work with TFA.  She’s in the training stages.  And she was telling me that the lingo for the adults related to the students is “influencers.”  Whereas when I was coming along there was that ubiquitous reference to “parent or guardian.”

And it got me thinking about whom we’re influenced by and who we can influence.  And how both are generally operative.

I’m a big believer in mentoring, and I’ve written a boatload on the subject as it relates to mentoring others in faith, most of which can be found at the wonderful site of Inspire Women’s Mentoring Ministries.

One thing about mentoring that I like to think about is the idea of living with one hand up and one hand back, as if you were creating a chain of people climbing the mountain of life.  Someone’s leading, someone’s following.  We’re all connected.

Some of my influencers are daily people in my life; others are authors or people long dead when I arrived on the planet who lived in such a way as to leave a legacy.  I don’t know that they’re up for getting a phone call if I misbehave in school, but they affected me nonetheless.

And then there are those I’d love to invest enough in that they could call me (or their teachers could) if something was needed.

Imagine this: Think back to being in college.  Think of three people you admired and respected.  Think about having one of them call you and say, “Let’s go have a cup of coffee,” and then hearing these words, which are from a great resource by Bobb Biehl, a book called Mentoring: Confidence in Finding a Mentor and Becoming One:

I know a lot of young people, and of all the ones I know at this point, you are one of the most outstanding.  I have been praying about it and I would like to become one of your life mentors.

What I mean by “life mentor” is simple.  I want to be one of the people, whether you become president of the United States or a prisoner, who cares whether you live or die and wants to see you win for the rest of your life.  I want to help you any way I can.  I want to put you on my lifelong prayer list, and when you have children, I want to hear about every one of them.  I want to know when they arrive, even if I’m living two thousand miles away.  If you run into problems or just need a friend to talk to, I’ll be available any time, day or night.  I want to stay in contact with you no matter where you go or what you do for the rest of your life.  I want to be one of your life mentors.  Whenever we get together in the future, this year or in thirty years, I will ask you two simple questions:

“What are your priorities?”

“How can I help?”

Wow… that takes my breath away.  And as much as I’d love to GET the phone call, I can much more control whether I will MAKE the phone call.

Be an influencer.  You are needed.

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~ by Cary on August 4, 2010.

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