The Death of the Mentor

Our culture has a tremendous lack of mentors – those willing to train another in whatever their particular skill or vocation might be. keepcalmandmentorThat’s especially true in the last couple of generations of spiritual and religious leaders, and there doesn’t seem to be much difference between conservative and progressive leaders in this regard. When Matthew Fox, John Shelby Spong, and Ram Dass are still teaching into their eighties with no protégé in sight, we can conclude three things. The first is that leaders in their forties and fifties aren’t being given a chance by event promoters who want to play it safe in their bookings. The second is that nobody is being mentored by these men to eventually replace them. The third is that a lot of good teaching is going to die when they do. Why aren’t they teaching anyone to eventually replace them, as every good business leader is supposed to do? I used to think that it was because they were unwilling to let go and step aside, sometimes because they hadn’t saved enough money to allow them to retire. Now I am realizing the answer may be a shocking shortage of people willing to be mentored. In my career in ministry I have found that, with rare exception, most people seem to believe they knew everything they needed to know for life when they popped out of the womb. That paints a picture for the future that is rather bleak, indeed, as people who could be making real progress by building on the work of their mentors spend their whole career reinventing the wheel.

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