Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working with several churches that are interested in developing intergenerational mentoring connections in their congregation. While each situation is unique, there are some common themes that emerge in these conversations. Over my next two posts, I’ll deal with two of them specifically: the first will focus on a perspective that might be helpful at the beginning stages of a mentoring relationship, and the last will deal with the idea of posture.
So, what does perspective have to do with mentoring? For many of us, we may be hesitant to begin meeting with a student or emerging adult unless we have a clear idea of what it looks like to be a “successful” mentor. Or we may begin a mentoring connection with someone only to lose momentum if we find our initial conversations to be challenging or even awkward. In doing so, we are experiencing the impact our personal perspective can have on our ability to connect with a younger person. From an “older” person’s point of view, a challenging or awkward beginning to intergenerational connection might be viewed as evidence that they aren’t equipped to be the perfect mentor to an emerging adult.
The good news however, is that young people aren’t looking for their mentors to be perfect, they are merely looking for them to be present in their lives. An older person who is able to shift their perspective to reflect this reality will find that students and emerging adults are simply seeking authentic relationship. All they are looking for is an older person who is committed to journey with them as they move into their next stage of life.