what more there is to learn

Do you ever write something to provoke thinking and then have someone say, “So, what about you? How are you doing that?”

Cheryl Smith just did that.

Recently I talked about the difference between accountability partners and mentors.

I wrote,

However, we need mentors as well. Call them teachers, rabbis, disciplers, guides, coaches, parents. They are people who know more than we do, at least about something. They may not touch what we are working on, but they give us someone to ask, “this part? This place? This way?”

I am concerned sometimes that in our desperation for equality and humility and teamwork and esteem for others,  we are unwilling to acknowledge that there are things that we actually do know better than others. This doesn’t make us better, or more worthy, it just means that we can’t be falsely modest.

What do you know better than others? Who looks up to you when they want to learn that? Are you willing to acknowledge that you know it better or do you say, “This? Anyone can do this.” Are you willing to watch people work, to share your knowledge without knowing everything? Are you willing to share the little piece that you know?

It sounds really noble, right? So Cheryl wrote and said,
Makes me wonder, are you still seeking mentors in your life or have you moved beyond that? And are you intentionally mentoring someone/others? I’d love to hear more about that in future posts.

I don’t think you ever move beyond mentors, though I haven’t always been humble enough to be mentored, to be willing to listen and learn and follow. I just went through a learning process myself.

Recently we watched a man from our church die. He had been in ministry for more than 60 years, longer than he had been married. He had been sick for a couple years. This summer he got very weak and was taken to the ER.  I went to visit and realized that after all these years of living and serving and teaching, Vern had one more lesson: teaching us how to die.

I thought he was going to die that day. Both he and his wife expressed a readiness. However, he didn’t. The next time I went up to visit, he was watching the Cubs. Then he moved from critical care to rehab. Then he moved from rehab to a nursing home.

All the while, he was visiting with friends, visiting with family.

A couple weeks ago I was standing in a cemetery, looking at grave markers, getting ready to shoot a video about making life matter. My phone rang. Someone needed to get to the hospital to visit with Vern and his wife.He had just been taken back to critical care.

“I’m dying” is what he said. “Do you want to go?” she said. “I kinda do,” he said.

And three days later, he did.

In the meantime, he visited more with family. He called friends to let them know, to say goodbye. He sang hymns. He wanted to be with Jesus. And then he fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

I’m not past needing mentors. I needed that lesson in dying. In fact, the Saturday after Vern’s funeral,  I ‘presided’ over my first funeral. I had learned something about what to say, about how to say it, about what families go through.

I’ll answer more of Cheryl’s questions during the next few weeks. She is pushing me to think.

But let me ask you the same question: “Are you seeking mentors in your life? For anything in particular?”

3 responses to “what more there is to learn

  1. Seems like we’ve been facing similar situations lately. I wrote just today about Lee, who rather than teaching how to die, taught how to live.

    I have a close friend who is serving as an accountability partner/coach. We meet monthly and talk about both business, spiritual and relational goals (family, spouse, etc.).

    Just last week I met with three women who lead in worship for a woman’s organization. I’m a singer, but not necessarily a worship leader so I’m learning from them. Maybe not so intentionally, but learning nonetheless.

    My biggest opportunity, perhaps is learning from some who are younger than me who know more than I in areas of technology, etc. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. It’s interesting that you wrote about this because it’s been an ongoing conversation within my group of friends lately.

    I go to a large church in Austin that pushes the congregation to engage in building Biblical community with accountability. However, one thing that we’ve noticed is that yes, it’s great that we’re all joining together, studying the Bible, living on mission for the city of Austin, but – we have no guidance from older women in the church. Something that we all could use being young, single, late college/just graduated women is women in our lives who are willing to show us what it looks like to be Godly women.

    Is it a universal generalization that men should be discipled more than women? I know Mark Driscoll talks about raising up Godly men so they can lead Godly families, but what are young women supposed to do if God’s not calling us to that now (or ever)?

  3. Taylor, that’s a great question.

    When Paul writes to Titus, a church leader, he tells him to have the older women teach the younger women. (Yes, I know that he says to teach them to love their husbands, but at the time, most had them.) So there is the principle of generational transitions.

    Cheryl raises a great point-reverse mentoring. Younger, like you, understand way more about information tools than older. This is a scary thing for older. It used to be that the older you were, the more you know about what mattered to the culture. Now, the younger you are, the more you know about the information tools.

    Here’s my suggestion: invite some older women to talk with your group, informally, occasionally. By opening the door and asking questions, you may find them giving the answers you want in the context of relationship.

    And Taylor? Meet Cheryl. She would love to have the kind of conversation you are talking about.