Marv Levy takes his dry humor around the globe in the comedy series The Reluctant Traveler. Levy’s travels leave him perplexed and curious. His episode-ending reflections include themes he picks up along the way. Often sounding surprised, he finds that folks living in Finland enjoy life outdoors, even if it is cold. Smiles greet him, and he cannot figure out why. After a few episodes, you get the feeling that he may enjoy a habit he never dreamed he would.
Maina Mwara describes his recent book as a project that called him. And after our conversation, I wondered if Howard Hendricks could be described as The Reluctant Mentor. Not resistant but reluctant.
Mentoring hit the craze level some years ago in Christian leadership circles. Books on mentoring, how to be a mentor, and successful mentoring became the rage. I recall receiving a free book or two at a conference on the subject. The desire to be a mentor has a dark side. It feeds a nascent narcissism that may be latent in all of us. “You need to listen to me.”
Like Hendricks to those who saw him as their mentor, my mentors have not self-identified as such. I have recognized they are my mentors. The relationship developed into a mentoring relationship. Rick did not tell me one day as Darth told Luke, “I am your mentor.”
Reluctant does not mean resistant. Influential does not always mean intentional. Relationships predicated on a contractual arrangement seldom reach the depths of mentoring relationships. And lack of intention does not mean accidental. Christian discipleship is organic, not programmatic. “Don’t pluck the weeds lest you pluck the wheat also.” Time and interactions are the soil in which mentoring relationships emerge.
Howard Hendricks’s story as an influential mentor rises from within an uncomfortable context, reaching diverse people, and results in an investment that yet survives his short sojourn. Remember, no matter how long we live; it is like a vapor.
Pick up a copy and observe what it means to be an influential mentor. You don’t need a program. You only need an interest in people.