Now that I’m officially in my forties (40, to be exact), it’s interesting to reflect back on my twenties and thirties from a relational perspective.
We didn’t have kids until our late twenties, so much of our twenties was lived as DINKS (double income, no kids). Lest you think we were on the fast track, our “double income” consisted of a teacher’s paycheck and a pastor’s salary. Not knowing it as much at the time, we were blessed to have many mentoring relationships with people older than us. In fact, one of the couples we spent a considerable amount of time with was three and a half times our age. He was a retired Naval officer and he gave me a great tutorial on how to handle people.
I’m not sure if they set out to mentor us or if it just happened. Many of my best leadership lessons were learned in those years.
Moving into our thirties, we added a second child and most of our friends were other couples with kids the same age. We shared potty-training tricks and talked about the stresses of raising a family. We talked about schools and clothes and making ends meet. Even still, there were a few older couples who took us under their wing and shared their lives with us. One in particular challenged me to stay intellectually-engaged with the world and God. They became a pipeline for books and seminars. Another couple showed us what it meant to practice hospitality.
Now that we are moving deeper into our forties (I’m 40 and 15 days), I’m becoming more conscious of the need to build into the younger generation. I see young men just starting their careers and remember how invaluable it was for me to have an older man who took an interest in what I was doing. Our church is filled with young couples — at the same age when we went through different learning experiences as a couple. There are twenty-somethings who love God and just need a bit more direction; a nudge that may alter the course of their careers, choices, and calling.
If you are that twenty or thirty-something, who are you looking to as a mentor? Don’t believe for a minute you don’t need one.
If you find yourself at my age (or above), let me ask you a question: who are you intentionally seeking out in order to help them mature? What steps are you taking? What time are you carving out?
There’s a phrase you may hear every now and then: “Blessed to be a blessing.” It’s so true. I’ve been blessed. You’ve been blessed. Who are we blessing?