Does Your Child Have a Mentor?

Does_Your_Child_Have_a_MentorI was flattered, truly. Here was a mama entrusting her daughter to my care, asking me to mentor through the process of becoming engaged and married. Unfortunately, what followed was less mentoring and more a mom looking for me to back her up on everything she said. As my own daughters approach adulthood, these memories come to mind and I find myself asking a few pertinent questions. Does my child need a mentor, and how do I go about getting one?

I am by no means a “young mom” any longer but this doesn’t mean I have it all down or that I don’t need guidance from time-to-time. So today I hope you’ll help me out. Because the truth is my experience with mentors is slim. Slim to none. I grew up in a generation that thought older people had nothing to teach us, and the older generation was fed up with us and left us to our own devices. Even within the church, I confess I’ve never had an older lady mentor me. I wish I had.

I always thought mentors were people the Lord naturally brought into your life. People you admired, respected, and thought could teach you something. It didn’t need to be one person who fit the bill. We could obtain mentors for various aspects of growth and learning. One might show us how to be a better wife, while another seemed to have the parenting thing down. We might respect someone’s business and wish to glean from their wealth of knowledge. What mattered most was that our mentors be wise, patient, willing, and Godly.

So here I stand. – Okay, sit. – Wondering what your thoughts are on helping our children find appropriate mentors….

  • Did you have a mentor growing up?
  • If so, how did you find your mentor?
  • Do you consider your parents mentors?
  • Do you have a mentor now?
  • Did you approach your mentor, seeking them out, or did the Lord naturally bring you together?
  • Do you feel your children need outside mentors? (Assuming they look to you first.)
  • Have your growing children expressed a desire for a mentor or naturally found one?
  • How can we facilitate Biblical mentoring for our children?
  • Is it our responsibility to find our children a mentor or their own?
  • What should we be looking for in a good mentor?
  • Should our mentors be older than we are, or merely more experienced?

There are so many fascinating aspects to this discussion, and we look forward to hearing all your helpful thoughts. While it’s obvious we don’t have all the answers to this topic, we’re confident in this… God knows what our children need even more than we do, and will provide if only we ask.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

Your Turn!: Please share your thoughts on this topic, and help others who are seeking answers!

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Redeeming the Time

Redeeming the TimeThe last time my wife asked me to guest-post, I wrote a brief description of homeschooling from a father’s perspective (well, from this father’s perspective, in any case). This time I was asked to write about the importance of fathers in the homeschool process, and I’m primarily addressing men here. Because it’s such a vast subject encompassing so many aspects, I’ve chosen to begin on one particular aspect: Time         

…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
– James 4:14

The older you get, the more you realize how short life really is, and you realize how little time you have to do all the things you’d like to do. Let me say right now that if you spend all of your time trying to fulfill some “bucket list” you’ll probably miss out on the important relationships that really matter. No man on his death-bed has regrets about never having had a chance to sky dive. What a dying man inevitably regrets is all the time wasted on useless things while neglecting his family. If there’s only one point I can get across to husbands and fathers is that you need to be attending to your relationship with your family. If that means you miss a football game or time on the golf course, so be it. Better to miss a few meaningless pursuits than to come home one day and find that your children have grown and are gone, and you missed out on the whole thing.

Work – Let’s face it, guys need to work. Given the state of the economy, a man’s got to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. This may eat up most of his time, and the family just needs to understand that dad can’t always be around. My only advice to dads is that they only work as much as necessary to properly provide for their families. I won’t define “properly” here, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Suffice it to say that you shouldn’t be working more than is necessary if it means you’re neglecting your family to make a few extra bucks for that new car you’ve been wanting. Like I mentioned earlier, no man will look back on his life and regret not getting a new car. He will, however, regret not spending more time making his kids laugh. It’s the little moments we take for granted.

Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom… for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward the heaven.”
– Proverbs 23:4-5

Education – So what does all of that have to do with education? It’s constantly being repeated that homeschooling is about using every opportunity to teach some lesson. This means that, as a father, your involvement in your child’s education includes every moment you spend with them, which is why I wanted to focus on the importance of time spent with your children. If you’re not spending any time with your kids, then you’re likely imparting no knowledge to them. And take note that education isn’t all about academics. It’s about teaching your kids about truth, beauty, wisdom, justice, goodness, order, and about the God who provides a rational ground for making these things intelligible in a coherent, correspondent world view.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7

Teaching your kids to cook, ride a bike, or play an instrument are all educational experiences. It should also be noted that the classical understanding of why we receive an education is not to get a degree so that we can go out and get a high-paying job. Rather, we educate ourselves so that we might glorify God as we live a moral, intellectually robust, winsome lives, while helping others. I’m not suggesting that a job isn’t important as well, but only observing that no certificate of degree has any value if it doesn’t correspond to having actually gained some wisdom. The world isn’t short on idiots with degrees.

Training – We’ve all heard about the social ills due to fatherless homes, so I won’t touch on that except to say that most of it is due to a lack of discipline. I won’t pretend to have this down perfectly, but dads need to be teaching their children (especially if they have a headstrong son, which I do) that their behavior has consequences. It’s better to spank your child’s bottom and teach him this lesson while he’s young, rather than him learning this lesson the hard way when he’s an adult, at which point the consequences might be permanent and more severe. Fathers who fail to teach their children the harsh reality of consequences are doing their children a great disservice.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
– Galatians 6:7

With respect to headstrong boys, let me say that a man’s nature is to be the dominant sex, and so a headstrong boy will have a difficult time taking instruction from a woman, even if it’s his mother. He’ll rebel and protest and refuse her instruction, often to the point of disrespect. If you have such a son, you’d better be ready to discipline this child and communicate very clearly to him that you will not tolerate his treating your wife this way. You wouldn’t let another man treat your wife poorly; don’t let your own little man treat your wife poorly. You’ll also be doing his future wife a favor if you teach him now to have respect for women, so love and cherish your wife and show your son how to be a loving husband.

Leadership – Some people are natural leaders. They don’t even have to try, and yet people will look to such people to lead them. My wife is such a person. She doesn’t have to ask anyone to follow her. Other women just seem to do so. Men, on the other hand, are called to be the leaders of their home, whether or not they have any natural leadership abilities. I happen not to be a natural leader, so this role of leader isn’t easy for me. Suffice it to say, men are called to provide for and protect their families. That’s not the difficult part. What is difficult is being the spiritual leader, and here’s where most of us, including myself, come up short. Rather than wasting time lamenting this situation, let’s just say that we need to step up to the plate and begin praying with our families and leading them in devotions. We need to be the one to set the godly example. We need to be the one to encourage them when it’s time to go to church. Most importantly on this point, we need to lead by example, not by force. People can only follow you if you’re out in front. If you’re pushing them from behind, you’re driving them, not leading them. Your family is not cattle. Don’t treat them as such.

Finally, much of this may not seem related to homeschooling, but again, every aspect of your relationship with your family is a lesson taught to your children. Your wife already carries most of the academic teaching, so use what little time off you have from work to spend with your families and be the man God calls you to be, one of those roles being that of teacher to your children.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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Leader of the Pack

Leader of the PackPushing all children to be the ‘rock star’, the person out front, can lead to some troubling circumstances. But, let’s face it, some people truly are leaders. As parents, how do we prepare our kiddos to be the leaders God is calling them to be?

Being a leader is a good thing, if that is where the Lord has placed you. However, with leadership comes great responsibility. There are few key things our littles need to learn if they are going to be successful in their endeavors.

Have a Heart To Serve – Being a leader isn’t about bossing people around; it’s about helping. If all you want to do is have power over others, then this isn’t your calling. Your actions should be motivated from a heart which aches to assist and encourage.

Be Diligent – Once a goal has been established, be persistent in achieving it. No matter the struggle, continue to move forward and encourage those with you to do the same.

Be Hard Working – No one wants to follow someone who sits around, expecting everyone else to do the work. Start with a great idea and put some muscle into it. When others see your dedication, they will join in and you become a team.

Be Responsible & Efficient – Don’t start something and not finish it. It would also behoove us to use our resources to the best of our ability. People want to see that we not only follow through with our great ideas, but we make the most of each and every situation.

Know What You’re Doing – Who wants to follow a leader who is filled with enthusiasm, but constantly struggles with getting a job done? Before you can expect others to follow a plan, you must know what the plan is and decide on a course of action. Make the tough choices and find a way to make it work.

Allow Others to Lead, Too – The goal of leadership isn’t to run the world, but to assist others into the same position. We are climbing a mountain with the intent of pulling others up with us. If you are the only one who has authority in your group, something is wrong. Encourage other people to take initiative and responsibility. The best leaders do such a good job, their people leave them to start their own groups, spreading encouragement to yet more people. Be willing to take suggestions and grow with your team; if you don’t bend, you’ll break.

Let Your ‘Yes’ Be ‘Yes’ – One of the biggest struggles leaders have is in knowing when to say ‘yes’ to something and when to say ‘no’. Not every good idea needs to be pursued, at least not at this time. Pray about which choice to make and then… stick with it!

Be Ready for a Fight – Being a leader sounds fun, right? It can be! It also means you are going to be hit and hit hard, from just about every angle. Be prepared for the fight; spiritual, emotional, and physical. Being a leader is no cake walk.

Being a leader is a big responsibility. Raising the next generation of leaders is just as important. How we teach them, what we teach them, and how they put those skills to work is essential.

Time to Chime In: How are you training the next generation of leaders?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” – Philippians 2:3

The Making of a Leader

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”Warren Bennis

Let’s face it, some of our children seem born with a disposition of dominance. They want to be the one leading the pack, in charge of making progress and getting things done.

Does the desire to be a leader make them one though? Does standing at the front of a crowd or walking at the front of the line, really make you the head man?

I have often found that the most efficient and well thought of leaders, are not the ones who seek authority. Natural leaders come by their position due to hard work, diligence, and a desire to help others. It is this desire to reach out to others (to be a servant, in fact), which causes them to actually be followed.

I would argue that great leaders are made, not out of a natural tendency to control, but a heartfelt, burning desire to bring about change for the good. Truly great leaders do not have to push, cajole, or argue to get people to follow them; they simply act and allow people to come along side them and share the work.

To this end, our pastor asked those involved in ministry at our church to read Be A Motivational Leader, by Leroy Eims. In his book, Mr. Eims lays out the qualities one should expect to find in a good, moral leader and how we might go about gaining them in our own lives. (I would add, we can also instill these characteristics in our children; the leaders of tomorrow.)

Some of the qualities listed seem quite obvious: be responsible, exemplary, efficient, decisive, competent, and a hard worker. However, there are a few others which one might not associate with good leadership: be a growing leader (not one who refuses to do things “as they’ve always been done”), inspire others, communicate well, and unify those who serve with you.

While each of my children display various leadership characteristics, they still have a great deal to learn. (Let me clarify that by saying I am NOT there yet either; just a little further along than they.)

I learned a great deal from this thin book. It helped me to better understand my role as a servant in women’s ministry and Keepers. It helped me clarify what is expected of me and how to better interact with others.
I think the most important lesson I took away from this book, was the way in which to help others become the next generation of leaders; namely, my children.
Leadership should inspire others to lead. The purpose isn’t to create a group of followers who blindly repeat mantras like sheep, but rather a group of individuals so highly trained and capable, they are able to go out into the world and carry on the work themselves.
As my children grow and mature, I desire to instill these characteristics in them. I want them to see leadership as what it is meant to be; servanthood.