Who mentored you?
In Greek mythology, Mentor was an older man who was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus.
Mentor was to support, counsel, befriend, and serve as a constructive example for Telemachus in the young boy's growth toward mature manhood.
I remembered that story this past Sunday, as I received a "Mentor" pin from a young man in our church who was receiving his Eagle Scout Award, the highest rank in Boy Scouting. I was present, along with several members of our church, where I offered the Invocation and Benediction at the Eagle Scout Ceremony. We were all delighted to be present. The young man from our church was surrounded by friends, family members, Scout leaders, fellow scouts and members of his church family for this milestone of achievement. As a former Scout master and father of two sons who are Eagle Scouts, I was again deeply moved by the Eagle Scout Ceremony. It is a challenging journey. I saw the obvious pride in this young man's parents and scout leaders. Not a few adults had tears of celebration misting their eyes.
But I am also aware that many young men and women do not have the mentors they need in their lives. Frank Pittman, in his fine book "Man Enough" writes that, "For a couple of hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less to his sons; not just less power but less wisdom, and less love. We have finally reached a point where most fathers are largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons."
There is a "father hunger" in our society Pittman argues. He writes that, "Life for most boys and for many grown men is a frustrating search for the lost father who has not yet offered protection, provision, nurturing, modeling, or, especially, anointment."
I take that word "anointment" to mean the conferring of a blessing that a young man or a young woman, receives from parents and other mentors. That blessing means that a young person is prepared to live life confidently and will be capable of giving life to others as well. The alternative, Pittman notes, is to go through life ashamed and pulling back from exposure to intimacy with men, women, and children.
So, who is your mentor? Thank them... and pass it on. That's the encouragement of a national movement called the Mentoring Project (www.mentoring.org)
I have come to believe that it's never too late to fill the need for mentors or those who can teach us about life. One of my favorite inspirational books on this topic is by Marian Wright Edelman, in her book "Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors".
Marian Wright Edelman is the president of the "Children's Defense Fund", a leading advocacy group for the needs of our nation's children. She wrote a brief book to her sons a few years ago titled "The Measure of our Success", in which she sought to distill some of life's wisdom for her sons.
In "Lanterns", Marian Wright Edelman looks back at all of the mentors she has been blessed by in life; some are people who were family, others teachers or pastors, some national figures, and others are individuals in history.
Receiving that "Mentor" pin this past Sunday was a great honor. I was not close to my own father, but I've had a number of mentors through the years, both men and women who have "anointed" me. And I've wanted to pass on what I've received, which is a key part of life's purpose.
Marian Wright Edelman offers up a number of nuggets of wisdom for "mentees" in her book "Lanterns". Here are a few:
"God has a job for all of us to do. Open up the envelope of your soul and try to discern the Creator's orders inside."
"Don't ever give up on life. It is God's gift. When trouble comes, hang in."
"Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn."
"Never judge the contents of a box by its wrappings."
"Possessions and power don't make the man or woman: principles, character, and love do."
Who are your mentors? Who are you anointing or seeking to bless? All around us there are people hungry for support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement, and a constructive example.