This post is a part of the Dancing Jesus: Mentoring in the Church blog series that will be ongoing through the month of September. You can read about the series and view the schedule here. You can subscribe to all of the posts here.
Dwarfs, Giants and Mentors
Will Ferrell knows something about mentoring. In one of his more classic movies, Kicking and Screaming, Ferrell plays Phil Weston, a vitamin shop owner turned coach of his sons youth soccer team. Phil takes over a hapless team that not only struggles to win a game but to even score a goal. In his first practice with the team, Phil’s character decides to get to know the players a little better. As the players go around in a circle saying their names two individuals take center stage. Byong Sun, a 3 foot nothing forward on the team, and Ambrose, a freakish giant of a kid, step to center stage Phil says this: “Well, maybe you and Ambrose can team up – he’s big and you might form one megaperson.” As Phil makes a humorous observation, he also touches on an idea that finds its roots all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton.
Will Ferrell and Sir Isaac Newton could not be any different, but they seem to know a thing or two about mentoring. Check out this quote from Sir Isaac Newton: “If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants“. What a beautiful picture of mentoring.
The phrase was originally attributed to Bernard of Chartres, who use to say the “we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.” As many of you picture dwarfs standing on top of giants, the picture is funny in nature but beautiful in reality. Mentoring is about standing on the shoulders of someone who has been there, done that, and is now stooping over for you to jump on.
The church has a problem, there is a great shortage in both giants (mentors) and dwarfs (mentees). The rising divorce rate, over population of prisons, fatherless homes, and rise of the unemployment rate of 20 somethings are just a couple of the signs of the lack of mentoring in the church. Mentoring has been left in the church closet sitting next to the choir robes gathering dust. In its simplest form, mentoring is discipleship. But mentoring goes far beyond the word discipleship, past the Sunday school or young adult services and dives into relationships. The perfect model of mentoring is Jesus. Learning from the way Jesus invested in relationships with his disciples, crowds, and even skeptics is the perfect example of what mentoring looks like. Mentoring is about a relationship between an individual (mentor) who is farther down the road then another individual (mentees). It is a relationship that shares experiences, lessons, laughter, excitement, frustration, and most importantly life. Unfortunately, mentoring has been reduced to a “program” rather then becoming a movement.
Programs get stuck behind the four walls of a church building, they become stuck at a set time of meeting on Sunday morning. Movements are about action, they move forward, they grow and impact. The same can be said about giants (mentors) and dwarfs (mentees), they move and grow together. One thing that sticks out about giants is their height. They stand above everyone and everything. They stick out and attract people to them. What makes giants (mentors) so appealing is who they are and what they can provide. Mentors provide a chance to learn from, converse with, bounce ideas off, and share life together. But to many times the search for the giants is called off because they are no where to be found.
But the shortage is not just with the giants, the dwarfs are literally and figuratively falling short. Instead of looking for a chance to stand on others they are standing alone. As the latin metaphor nanos gigantium humeris insidentes, “One who develops future intellectual pursuits by understanding the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past,” describes the relationship between mentor and mentee and brings about the idea of the growing together in intellect and understanding. The beauty of the relationship between the giant (mentor) and the dwarf (mentee) is they both help each other. The giant provides a foundation to stand on while the dwarf provides the giant a different perspective on what they are seeing. Both serve each other in their vision and step.
The church has a problem indeed, but the church also has the chance to be apart of the solution. The solution is difficult, messy, and even confusing, but it can be found in men and women becoming giants to the ones searching for shoulders to stand upon. The solution is found in men and women humbling themselves to the idea that they are small, that they do not have it all figured out, that they need the help of others to make it through life. These are the solutions to the problem of mentoring in the church.
Kyle Reed is a connector looking to connect with others. A 20 Something that is blogging his way through life and looking to stand on the shoulder of giants. Also a team member and brand evangelist of the 8BIT Network. Kyle makes his home in St. Louis, Missouri and finds whatever excuse he can to travel. His best friend is a dog named Jack, and he drinks his coffee black. Find him on twitter: @kylelreed or read his blog http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com