Passing the Baton: Living a Life of Mentorship

Apr 23, 2020 | Posted by Jennifer


Who are the mentors in your life? Hopefully all of us have experienced the blessing of having a mentor to help guide us on our paths. These are the precious people who carve out time from their schedules and choose to come alongside and help us. Perhaps you have heard this saying before: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” As this quote highlights, mentors allow us to stand on their shoulders so that we can more clearly see the goal line in the distance. Mentors serve to help us become better parents, better spouses, better teachers, better professionals. They cheer us on as we face and overcome obstacles. Encouraging us when we experience failure, they help us to brave the inevitable storms that come into our lives. And when we make it to the other side, they are there to say, “I knew you could do it!”

When my husband and I were first considering home education many years ago, I did what many of us do who are in the same situation. I checked out books on the subject from the library and pored over them, but most critically, I looked for and contacted someone who had been living the lifestyle. I knew I needed to find someone who could answer my questions, help me figure out curriculum and teaching approaches, and build me up when I felt discouraged. Graciously taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions, this sweet lady also invited me into her home, where I could see how her family embraced the homeschooling lifestyle, the beautiful parts as well as the less than ideal. She was real with me. Knowing that she was only a phone call away made stepping into my new role of homeschooling parent less fraught with difficulty than it otherwise would have been.

Who are the mentors in your life? Likely you have more than one. Some of our first mentors are our parents, who are there from the very beginning and who selflessly give of themselves over and over again to help us become the best version of ourselves. Not only parents, but also grandparents frequently serve as mentors. Those of us fortunate enough to have grandparents nearby can gain perspective from their many years of experience. A beloved teacher taking extra time to help us cultivate our talents is another mentor. Coaches, bible study leaders, managers, and youth program volunteers: all of these people could be potential mentors. Who have been yours?

Over the years Andrew Pudewa has shared how much his mentors have impacted his life. In his article “However Imperfectly: Lessons learned from thirty years of teaching,” he writes:

As an adult, my four great mentors were Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Dr. Glenn Doman, Mrs. Anna Ingham, and Dr. Bertin Webster, whom I wrote more about in the article “In Retrospect: Heroes of Providence.” While the time I spent with them and the training they provided was seminal for my mission, the thing that made it so powerful, even life changing, was that they loved me. Not just a general love, but a personal, heartfelt love—they appreciated me, they believed in me, they trusted me. While I know these great mentors loved others as much as me, I always felt individually loved and encouraged, and that made all the difference.

Some of us have the capacity to mentor someone else. In fact, many of us have been doing exactly that, especially over the last month or so. Whom can you mentor right now? Most of you reading this blog post are educators, whether you are a full-time teacher in a classroom or a homeschooling parent. Your students and children are the people who you can mentor. There are more though. What about the mom down the block from you who is suddenly finding herself tasked with teaching her children for the next few weeks or months? Could you reach out to her with some extra encouragement? If you are a veteran classroom teacher, there are likely younger or less experienced teachers in your school who would be so grateful for your mentorship. Or maybe there is a child in your co-op who could use some of your time or someone in your book club who could use a little support.

If we all take a bit of time to help a fellow human along life’s journey, all of us are enriched. As we begin to move closer to the summer, think about how you can lighten another person’s load by listening to them and supporting them. As we do, we continue that thread of mentorship, passing on what we have gained, like a runner passing a baton to the next one to carry it in the race. That is mentorship, and that is a beautiful thing.

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