It really isn't a buzz word anymore. It came on the scene a decade ago replacing the classic language of 'discipleship' for a more accountable term. What some called coaching or consulting or apprenticing or shadowing has now been termed MENTORING. I don't want to appoint a new term. But, I want to take this term to a new place.
Whatever term we use, we may be living in the greatest mentoring void in history. How do we know this? Because the greatest success in mentoring takes place in the home. With family. And this is the place where it should be happening more. The New Mentor? Parenting!
Pioneers In Mentoring
Many of the pioneers in mentoring (from Leonard Ravenhill, Leonard Sweet, Dan Reiland, and The Coaching Network) intended a more direct and relational approach to development. In the corporate setting and the church. But, what we must remember, is that the family setting must be the beginning of mentoring. Nothing beats the early stage development of a parent and child relationship.
I have been saying for a decade that we are not only raising a 'Fatherless Generation' anymore. As a matter of fact, we cannot only say that we are raising a 'Motherless Generation' anymore. Things have changed. We are now raising a 'Siblingless Generation'. Because young people today are growing up without a father, mother, and sibling to help shape their person. And this creates the greatest mentoring void we have ever seen in our world.
We need another set of pioneers in mentoring today. And that begins with the family. We need more fathers, mothers, and siblings in the development stages of children.
Youth in America today are growing up in a different world from the one their older siblings grew up in only 10 years ago. Whether we are talking about the terror war, the killing of Christians, the marriage amendment, the rewriting of moral codes in culture, the redefinition of rape, the legalizing of marijuana, or even the freedom of religion in the classroom, we are seeing a shift in the American constitution and the direction of our nation. By constitution I mean not only our own make-up or moral fiber, but, also, the Constitution of the United States.
This world teens are living in needs mentors in a big way. Because a mentoring void has ruined the family and ultimately the moral fiber of our nation. If mentoring is the ultimate culture shaper, then we must see a renewed emphasis on the family.
The New Mentor
The key to mentoring is relationship. PROXIMITY. There is no replacement for nearness. One study touts that fathers and children spend merely 18 minutes a week in communication. And the negative behaviors of teens is tied to not having a father in their life ( http://fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf ). No doubt our country is in a better place when the family is stronger. Because the family is the greatest culture shaper of a nation. So we must begin there. We cannot see a continued mentoring void in the family.
The new mentor must be parenting! It is the kind of relationship that could bring about an American renewal in the neighborhood, the economic, religious, corporate, educational, and governmental systems. Moving forward, our mentoring should focus more upon family systems. If we forego the conservative values that have been at the foundation of our nation in the face of secular humanism, it will be detrimental to the family and our society at this moment in American history.
Here are 4 ways to create a family mentoring process and assure that the family continues as a culture-shaper in America today:
1. Early Family Principles. Any society that replaces absolutes with tolerance will lose its moral compass. Decide when dating, when marrying, when raising children, and when retiring what your absolutes are going to be. And never get away from them. If we lose our non-negotiables in family discussion, we lose them in the public square of discussion. That will only produce more confusion. This includes respect for authority, honoring elders, sexual guidelines, and moral values to live by. Additionally, when we place the bible at the center of family education and development, we will see a renewed America.
2. Restoration of Parental Leadership. Why is parenting being attacked today with such undermining force? I believe it is partly because we have lost the value of marriage roles in the church and culture. And this has caused a loss of development and values in our young people. Fathering and mothering are equally important to raising children. As our personal constitution was coming under attack and secular humanism was rewriting codes, we missed our opportunity to correct this. Television shows, movies, pop music, and even school scheduling have all led to the degradation of parenting at the cost of destroying family leadership. Parental leadership in the family should be the first voice in developing the children who will develop our country.
3. Loss of respect for authority. If our children are not being raised with healthy mentors they are stunted in their maturation. Reading this PDF from the Father Involvement Research Alliance is proof of the negative affects of a loss of parenting in the home ( http://fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf ). We have become averse to correction in our personal lives publicly because we do not receive it in the home privately. I'm convinced that most of the reason young people do not respect authority is because it has not been taught in the home. I can remember my parents using grounding, spanking, and taking away privileges because I disrespected them or broke the rules or lied. Today, we cannot spank, threaten, or ground our children without the fear of being under suspicion of child endangerment.
The blatant disrespect toward authority (police, teachers, etc.) is obvious in this generation. And this must be corrected at the family level. Contrary to public opinion, it is alright to have a parent, a coach, a teacher or mentor in your life who is allowed to correct you.
4. Family Practicality. Let's get practical: family dinner, family vacation, family games, family night outs, and family devotions are almost a thing of the past. A past that was much more healthy than the one we have today. When is the last time a father played catch with his son, a mother went shopping with her daughter, or the family went to the movies together? Watching the mother of the teenager in Baltimore pull him from the rioting was refreshing to me. And a practical modeling of the kind of parental involvement we are missing. Recreation, amusement, relationship, and entertainment can be a regenerating thing to the family. Try it and see the results.
Restoring Family Mentoring
These leadership vacuums must be dealt with before we see our society completely fall apart. And if we are going to see an American renewal, we must bring mentoring to the family. The Millennials have lost the Christian principles that should have been demonstrated to them by parents. Now they will have to discover these by themselves.
The redefining of America in the next 10 years will only happen as this generation values family above all and brings a revision for the ages. Mentoring at the family level is vital to a healthy society. Of course we need pastors, coaches, teachers, managers, neighbors, and friends who will fill the role of mentor in teens lives. But, elementary to a healthy society is parenting in family as the new mentor.