Something happened in the 20th century, and it seems to be gaining momentum as we enter the 21st. We’ve somehow forgotten how to be mentors.
Now, I’m no expert in the field of education, but this I’m sure of: if you rely on a very few people to teach and mentor our kids, we end up with an annual parade of high school graduates who have a fairly narrow vision of what opportunities await them.
This is not a political blog, so I’ll skip the various theories and (mostly) finger pointing as to the ills of our education system. I will, however, take my knowledge of history and the Bible and say that we, as individuals, have grown lazy.
Am I being harsh? I think not. As I read through both the old and new testaments, I see the elders of every generation taking the youth under their wings. I can hardly find a prophet who was not educated by another. Even Jesus was taught carpentry by His earthly father.
In secular society, it wasn’t all that long ago that a child could choose his career and begin an apprenticeship at the age of 12. By the time he was 18, he mastered his craft and began earning a living, without the six-figure college debt.
Understand, these previous generations also believed in basic education. Few of us have the skills or patience to teach math, language, and science. This is not mentoring. This is giving a child just enough information to survive. It is not the public school teacher’s duty to identify the talent of each child and ensure they set off on that career path.
It is our duty. And we are failing.
Most of you reading this are engaged in some profession. There are a great many writers, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, electricians, and all manner of people reading this blog. Let me ask you, has a child other than your own expressed an interest in what you do? Have you offered to sit with them and explain your career? Perhaps taken them to your workplace?
It seems absurd, doesn’t it? In our society, we set aside one day per year to take our own children to work. Imagine if it were customary to take any child to work, as often as is practical so that the child may learn and be mentored.
No, we’re not going to change this culture from this blog, try though we may. But we can each adopt our own policy. We can watch for those kids that pass in and out of our lives, keep an ear open for the one who says, “I think I’d like to be a writer some day.”
Don’t miss that opportunity. Tell that child that you are there if she needs you. Tell her parents the same. Otherwise, when she is swept along by the currents and demands of life and forgets her calling, you may wonder if you could have changed that child’s life.
So my challenge to you this week is just that. Watch and listen. Our children bring friends over. We interact with children in church. We see them when visiting friends. There is, very likely, one child in your circle of influence who needs a mentor. Who needs you.
Will you be there for her?