Saturday, February 02, 2008

the unlikely mentor

I am tired today. I stayed up till 2:15 am this morning writing on my fiction blog (check out the second link on the right side to read the first 22 chapters of my novel - don't worry, they are really short chapters; I try to add at least one a week). It is an exercise that does not always come easy. Like any skill, it demands that I devote myself to it in order to see results and improvement. Some days it is fun and exciting and other days it is just plain hard work and I have to fight for every word.

I found an interview with John Grisham, one of my favourite authors, on a website this week and was inspired to hear about how he approaches writing. After watching the short talk, I felt like I had just attended a master class. We all need teachers and mentors to point us in the right direction and call the good stuff to life in us. So many of the young pastors I have worked with have expressed a longing for a mentor and many of them have floundered, somewhat lost because that one father figure, that teacher and encourager did not come along. At least not in the form they were hoping for.

I believe that there are mentors and teachers all around us. In all likelihood, that one magical person will not drop into my life to make things easier for me and show me steps 1-2-3 to success and maturity. If there is an area I need to grow in, I often look for someone who is stronger in it than I am and ask them to pray for me. I can dialogue with them about their journey, their struggles, and I can rub shoulders with them and we can do the stuff together. They do not have to be older or more together than I am or be someone like me at all. They just have to be able to show me one thing about one area of life.

I have learned about facing fear from a teenager. I have watched a 6-year-old girl capture a room of 200 people without speaking a word and learned something about authority. I have felt the passion in a non-professional singer's voice and learned that I must believe it if I want to sing it well. I have learned about the smallminded self-defeating attitudes of self-protection and mistrust from my cats. I have seen the effects of unconditional love from my husband and been inspired and changed by it. I am continually improving in my swimming abilities by gleaning tips from anyone who will give me a moment of time in a pool. I am learning something about the proper place of my emotions from my intellectual friends. I am learning to ready my house for optimum sale from reality tv shows. There are life-skill lessons being offered all around me by people of all ages and walks of life. Am I humble enough to learn from them? Or am I waiting for the security and comfort of a long-time mentor who will make me feel special and valuable and wanted? Learning is not a comfort sport.

What area are you feeling inadequate in today? Ask God to bring someone your way to teach you and then keep your eyes open.

This is a snowy bush on my friend's yard in Montreal.

2 comments:

Shelley said...

good point! so many people are looking for a mentor-of-all-trades, like some sort of weird more advanced twin of themselves.

Matte Downey said...

good point right back to you, Shelley! It reminds me of the basic problem with homosexuality: wanting to stay within our own kind or sect instead of being with and learning to love and serve and be challenged by the "other." Differences are a building block of creation. Too often we keep trying to make everything more similar.