Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Lost Art of Mentorship

It used to be that back in the day artisans, craftsmen, doctors, carpenters, blacksmiths, artists and such types would train apprentices and mentor students to teach them what they knew, in the hopes that the next generation would take what they had learned and think of even more wonderful things and do something even greater with the knowledge they have gained from the teacher.

Even Jesus mentors those who become His disciples (disciples in deed and not just in word). He mentioned this himself in John chapter 14 verse 12: "12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." In this chapter He was referring to the miracles He performed and how it was Father God working in Him. We as disciples of Jesus Christ, should be able take the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we are given them, and help each other out with them. This in theory should come to us as easily as breathing once we apply ourselves to being taught and being students of Jesus Christ.

So where has Mentorship gone? Has Fear chased it away so that few can discover its value?

Now I know there is a little bit still going on somewhere. When I hear the examples of great teachers or groups of people working together I have glimmers of hope that there are people who remember and who know how important it is to pass on hope and pass on skills and pass on the love for ones work. People simply have to be taught these things first hand. We don't really pass on that warmth if we are esconced inside our own homes.

When I look around at the quakes and woes of the financial crisis being thrust upon us, I see a great deal of people in leadership or highly responsible positions who really don't know what they're doing and who have never been trained to do the right thing. People seem to just be making up crap as they go along. There is an outright lack of respect for other people, which simply begins with themselves. They don't seem to expect it, so they can't seem to give it. How else can one explain the willy-nillyness of approving subprime mortgages and setting up people to lose their homes? Where are the supervisors of these people -- and better yet, why do the supervisors keep getting bonuses and golden parachute deals when they've failed so miserably at their jobs -- including failing to teach their staffs? Don't company shareholders have more say than that?

Missing in these inadequately trained people and terrible leaders are basic work skills that need to be learned in order to be good at ones job, including the skills to assess and gauge risk correctly. Things like this are elements of Wisdom, and we have to teach each other how to develop Wisdom and recognize its patterns and apply it to our work so we don't hurt each other by accident -- or on purpose.

Whether ones job is that of a doctor or painter or a financial advisor, there really are ground-rule guidelines that are very clear indicators whether one is actually any good at ones job. I mean, really. The fruits -- the results -- of the work speaks for itself, and results speak rather loudly of the sheer lack of training. Most students, with correct application -- and who are in the right field in the first place! -- can not only do good, they can truly excel.

We should be getting smarter, not dumber, as a society. Information is so accessible now that it's plum embarrassing that we're continually shortchanging ourselves and eachother by not expecting the best of eachother in character. But character, like language, has to be learned, absorbed and applied.

Shortcuts don't help if the rules that need to be known first are skipped over. See, you have to know the rules first before you can know whether they can be bent or changed, adjusted or flat out followed.

An understanding of mentorship at large seems to be missing ... and I hope enough of us wake up and realize that so that we can pull together and make up for lost time. We need to aim to truly make a difference and regenerate hope in and with eachother. We have to chase away and lock out that Fear that is trying it damndest to overtake us. There is no fear in Love.

No comments: