Yesterday was the first day that I did not work on the Mentor Me Project in the last four months. And in all reality it was a beautiful thing. I have loved developing, creating, and then discussing the mentoring project over these past four months. It has given me a new passion and drive that wakes me early in the morning and will not let me go to bed at night. But I needed a day off yesterday to get re-focused, the catch my breathe and to just spend some time doing something else.
I have talked to a lot of people about the Mentor me Project and have answered the question of how it all came about as best I could. A couple of days ago I decided to write about how the Mentor Me Project started in June the day I lost my job. With all that said, here is the story of the Mentor Me Project. It is a long read, but it will give you a little bit of a better picture as to where this idea is coming from. As well, be sure to check in on Godlysheep.com today for an interview I did about the mentor me project.
It was a warm June afternoon. I was on my way to talk about the future. At the time I was a middle school Bible teacher at a private school in O’Fallon, MO. I had just completed my first year of teaching and was on my way to what I thought was a meeting about teaching another year. I walked into the principles office and sat down. We made small talk for a minute, then he cut to the chase, “Kyle, we are not going to ask you back next year.” I could not believe the words that just came out of his mouth. The last couple of weeks I had been struggling to make the decision to continue teaching or pursue other interest. I never thought they were going to make the decision for me. He explained that I was not the right fit for them. Then he said something interesting. He told me that it was his fault. Me being a new teacher he felt the need to mentor me and teach me the ropes, unfortunately he never took the time to mentor me. I left that office disappointed and upset. I had never been let go before, little did I realize that it was the best thing that could happen to me.
It was a overcast October day. I was in my truck on my way to an opportunity of a life time. A friend sent out a tweet that morning asking if anyone could come to Atlanta to help with catalystbackstage.com. I jumped at the opportunity to go to catalyst, let alone work backstage. I was on my way and filled with so much excitement that I could barely make it through the eight hour drive to Atlanta. Once there that excitement soon turned to disappointment. I spent the next three days in utter frustration. If you are anything like me you understand the symptom of getting your hopes up. I do this with everything. In fact, a month before I went to catalyst I sent a “Christian Celeb” an email about the opportunity for him to mentor me. I had this idea that if he could see my potential he would want to pour into me. Needless to say, after a month of waiting, I got my response. As I sat bumper to bumper in Nashville I decided to check my email. I had one new message, it was a response from the email I sent a month before about being mentored. After I got through the “thanks for the kind words” sentiments I got to what I was really after, an answer…it was a no. What made matters worse (if that was possible at the time) I was going to be spending the next three days with this guy at catalyst backstage. All kinds of situations went through my head. What would this guy say, would he even talk to me, how awkward was this going to be. I started to think about turning around and going home. What I did not realize was that no was the answer that I needed to hear.
It was a sunny October day. 3 days after I drove down to Atlanta I was now driving back to St. Louis. I headed to catalyst with the idea that I was going to get “discovered” and left with the reality that no one even knew my name. I was frustrated, confused, and wondering what I was going to do next. I had a great time at catalyst. Meeting new people, having great conversation, and taking in some of the greatest communicators was awesome. But it was not what I thought was going to happen. As I drove home that Saturday afternoon I got a call from a guy that I had been chatting with on twitter and occasionally on the phone. He asked me how catalyst went? Needless to say I had a lot to unload. For the next hour we talked about my frustration, my future, and what God was teaching me. As I hung up the phone I realized that in all this time of searching for a mentor I had just spent an hour being mentored by a guy in that I had only known for a month. You hear people talk about light bulb moments, that was the day the lights came on and the Mentor Me Project was born.
Over the next 2 weeks I started to research mentoring. I googled, read, and discussed the state of mentoring. In all my research and conversations I continued to see this need for mentoring. I heard story after story of guys and gals that were looking for mentors and could not find them. I realized that this problem is an epidemic of great proportion. There was in fact mentoring going on, but it was surface level mentoring. What I was finding was the mentoring that people were receiving was coming through blogs and books. I remember in college asking a professor to mentor me, he told me that he was to busy but a good author would be a greater mentor. I remember sitting there trying to talk to Henry Nouwin. As I read every single book he ever wrote I just could not get him to answer my questions. The problem with books and blogs mentoring a generation is the lack of interaction and sharing of life. You cannot hit pause on a book and ask a question, the letters keep flowing and the pages lead you to the next chapter. These books and blogs were having an influence on people’s lives but they could not be the mentor that we all need.
I realized the possibility of Generation X and Y going without mentors would be filled with consequences. Don’t believe me? Think about this, why is the United States economy in such bad shape? One of the main reasons was the purchasing of houses that people could not afford. Or what about the divorce rate? Close to 50% of married couple will get a divorce, does that seem pretty high? Or for that matter the study that the Barna group released in early 2009 shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years – and often beyond that. In total, six out of ten twentysomethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood. I think it is all connected and can be traced back to lack of mentoring. If another generation goes without a mentor I am afraid to speculate what the results will be.
Its a cold December afternoon. I am sitting in my parents basement working on the Mentor Me Project. God has done some amazing things that I never would have expected. He continues to place it on my heart to go after the goal of connecting people to a mentor. I believe that the story is continuing to unfold and I hope that you will join me in connecting everyone with a mentor.
If this story has resonated with you please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org