The power of a mentor comes from life experience

| September 25, 2015 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Capt.) Jeffery B. Herden
25th Infantry Division

I’ve noticed in my counseling experience that more and more of our younger generation of Soldiers are making significant decisions in life without seeking guidance.

They are going at it alone.

       “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they     succeed.”
— Proverbs 15:22

Many are getting married without much forethought or consultation. Others are making major purchases without checking in with some older, wiser sages to see if such a course of action is prudent.

The fallout from this “go it alone” approach to life rarely goes well and is sometimes disastrous.

The causes for this isolated manner in which people make major life decisions is more than likely traceable to breakdowns in the family. Many Soldiers coming into the Army didn’t have a consistent model lived out before them of how to slow down and think carefully and soberly through life.

An ancient Hebrew proverb reminds us that having many counselors in life brings much needed clarity and perspective that can guide us through the maze of choices we encounter. These don’t always need to be professional counselors. Some of the best-qualified folks are usually just a little older, wiser, with a track record of making good morally and logically sound choices.

My battalion has started a marriage-mentoring program, wherein older couples are sharing their experiences and lessons learned with younger couples that are newly married and new to the island. It’s a joy to watch life-on-life, iron-sharpening-iron, in these small group huddles we do every first and third Wednesday of the month. I’m confident it will pay dividends for these young couples.

Here are 5 reflections on why mentoring can happen anywhere at anytime and why it makes such a difference in people’s lives.

  1. Mentors have staying power. Unlike professional counseling relationships, mentors tend to arise more naturally in work settings and faith communities. Because of the bond they build with the people they help, their impact is more enduring.
  2. Mentors are more on level with the folks that they help. They often share the same life experiences as those they guide and can therefore speak as one who “got the T-shirt.”
  3. Mentors can instruct and impart wisdom from both their successes and their failures. Sometimes it’s the failures that impart the most powerful life lessons.
  4. Mentoring can go both ways in a relationship. Depending on circumstances in life, the student can also become the teacher.
  5. Mentoring requires no degree, just compassion and transparency.

I close with some questions for self-reflection: Who is your mentor? Who are you seeking out to help you navigate through life? Who are you mentoring? Who are you helping to gain skill for living?

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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