Weekly Thought – February 13, 2024
Fred, in his mid-to-late twenties, met Maxey Jarman. That introduction grew into a lifelong friendship. A job offer and years of learning under Mr. Jarman and other strong, wise men helped Fred set a path for accomplishment.
Take A Note and Ask a Question
One form of mentoring helps the mentoree define the principles of living. Recently a young man said to me, “Mr. Smith, my grandfather was everything to me. He loved me and he taught me how to live.” That young man was surely blessed by a relationship like that. As we look at lifestyle mentoring in scripture, we think of Paul and Timothy. From the text we don’t know how much technical “how to be a missionary” time was spent between them. But we do know Paul was an excellent sponsor – a father in the faith. He allowed Timothy to work with him, observing, and absorbing. The words of Paul to Timothy were pointed and key to establishing healthy life patterns.
For years Zig Ziglar and I meet regularly to talk. Without fail the first thing Zig does is pull out his notepad and pen even though his memory for material is far better than most. I told him I was writing about mentoring and he said, “Be sure and tell the person being mentored to take notes. No one should trust his memory with anything this important.” Another friend, Dr. Ramesh Richard always puts his electronic notetaker on the table when we begin talking. “Mr. Smith, I have a completed recorded file of all our conversations.” For forty years as I worked with Maxey Jarman first as his employee, to a trusted consultant, fellow Christian board member, friend, and confidante I wrote down everything I saw him do or say that I thought was key. I was continually learning and wanted to remember both the principles and the illustrations.
Having a lifestyle mentoring relationship is not the same as a skill-based, or situational mentorship. This one focuses on a long time walking with another. The mentor is to be open, real, and to consistently personify their values before the young mentoree. Asking questions is a significant part of this process. One man with whom I have an ongoing conversation always comes prepared with questions to ask me before I enter that “senile eclipse.” (Editor’s note: Bill Glass, who considered Fred a mentor for 60 years came to the ICU for his last visit with Fred notebook and pen in hand. “I still have some questions for Fred,” he told the family in the waiting room.)
The mentor must provide a comfortable environment in which the mentoree feels free to ask any questions he considers needed. These may be questions about the mentor’s life or situations that may be coming. Questions like: “What were the major decisions in your life? What were the circumstances? What were the principles involved? How did you evaluate the outcome?” The more probing the questions, the better the learning.
A good mentor never ridicules a question. The mentor may choose to not answer, but must never ridicule for that shuts off the pump which produces the flow.
Lifestyle mentoring is coming alongside another for the purpose of learning and development. This won’t be the ordinary process. In fact, it will be reserved for very few, but for the right combination it provides an opportunity for a mentor to pass on more than techniques. As Paul said to Timothy, take what you are learning from me and build it into the lives of others who will then teach. Lifestyle mentoring is an effective method of torch passing.
This week carefully consider: 1) Who do I seek out for meaningful conversations? 2) What questions should I be asking a mentor?3) How can I become available to learners?
Words of Wisdom: “The mentor must provide a comfortable atmosphere in which questions can be freely asked.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Let the wise also hear and gain instruction, and let the discerning acquire guidance! (Proverbs 1:5 NET Bible)