Post Christianity

notredameA damaged Notre Dame in Paris.

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16

I often refer to this era as being “post-Christian” without unpacking it.  In his annual Christmas address last month,  Pope Francis stated,  “We are not in Christianity, not anymore.”

Something that is “post” means that it comes after something that existed. For Christianity, it meant that the world before this current era was largely a Christian world.  That statement has broad implications in the mores and political discourse around the globe.

To the western culture, which was based on Judeo-Christian principles, it is a huge earthquake. The Reformation brought cultural values of truth and the rule of law to the top of the list.  In a post-Christian world, those values take a back seat.

Institutions in America at one time were trusted are now not trusted because people see the lack of truthfulness and integrity and it undermines their trust. Politicians openly lie  (“if you want your doctor, you can keep him”).  The euphemism for lying is you “lacked candor”.

John S. Dickerson wrote an article in World Magazine titled “Facing Cultural Storms”. He discusses trends facing the world starting with the decline of Christianity and the drift towards socialism away from capitalism.

Dickerson names other trends:  the fast rise of Islam around the globe and the “civil war” of ideologies in a post-truth era. As for the ideology war, the next generation is being taught that all belief systems are equal and can coexist without conflict. Even someone from ISIS would challenge that statement.

The evolution away from Christianity started with the medieval culture. Norman Cantor, a medieval historian put it this way: “Medieval culture was a culture of the book, and in the middle ages, that book was the Bible.”

What then happened has been described as a macrosocial change. It began with the French Revolution, which established the religion of man. Alex de Tocqueville commented on the process of de-Christianization this way: “In France, Christianity was attacked with almost frenzied violence.”

In 1793, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was formally transformed into the Temple of Reason. Statues of Rousseau and Voltaire replaced statues of saints. The recent fire which destroyed Notre Dame has been met with large support to have it restored.  Most of that support is to rebuild it as a historic tourist site.

The post-Christian change has been gradual, driven by the subculture at the top levels of society – the educational system, the media and top levels of the legal system – which are now mostly secular.

It has been a trickle down change from the top by the “elites” and the courts. Most Universities  embrace gender and race diversity, but not political opinion.

Conservative professors at Yale are pushing back at their isolation because their opinion is treated as non-objective and “invalid”.  Liberal faculty “cull out” conservative graduate students.

A 2014 Stanford study shows a 6-1 ratio of liberal to conservative faculty nationally (28-1 in the Northeast), whereas only 26% of the American population was liberal according to a 2019 Gallup poll.

As one writer cynically noted, the lyrics to the song “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of Secularity” is the new national hymn in America.

The Pew Foundation tracks the changes. Christianity declined by 10% between 2007 and 2014, and those professing no religion (the “Nones”) increased by 50%.  Not good trends.

This is a trying age. My friends and I are constantly shaking our heads at where it is headed. Trends like socialism, which is inherently anti-Christian, are worrisome.

As I noted recently, 70% of millennials favor socialism.  They don’t know history and are blinded by the verbiage that sounds good and therefore it must be good.

The problem? Socialism has never worked. This time won’t be different. It has consistently led to major human catastrophes by socialist leaders like Stalin and, more recently, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

The decline in Christianity has led to an absence of traditional teaching on social mores. The sexual revolution redefined the nature of sex, gender, relationships and the family unit away from Christian teaching.  Public schools are now being required to add LGBTQ curriculum regarding gender fluidity which is contrary to biology.

Tolerance is now a high cultural value particularly with Gen Z. It collides with any notion of absolute truth   and turns to intolerance in public debate. 

Should we despair? I think not. Christianity has thrived for two millennia through different governments and societies. Notwithstanding a bumper sticker that says, “WE HAVE NO HOPE”, we always have a hope based on a relationship with Jesus.

The challenge is to recognize that things have changed quickly and dramatically over the past 50 years. We have to be strategic in articulating our virtues and values in a culture that has been turning a deaf ear to anything with spiritual overtones.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee has been raised in a post-Christian world and may need help in navigating through falsehoods to real biblical truth.

FURTHER READING: Hope of Nations: Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post-Christian World, James S. Dickerson.

Facing Cultural Storms – World Magazine

WORSHIP: Listen to Glorious Day by Passion.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Phobias

scared

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

 A phobia is an irrational fear or aversion to something.  It is often used as a description of an anxiety disorder.  An essay by a member of Gen Z, Taylor Brandt,  suggests the term may apply to the next generation.

Things like safe spaces on campuses, trigger warnings, bias response teams were never part of campus life until the last 10 years. To this next generation, these phobias seem real, yet older generations are dismissive because we didn’t experience it. We even call them “snowflakes”.

A 2018 survey by the American College Health Association showed that 63 percent of college students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety over the previous year. Another 42 percent said they felt so depressed it was difficult to function over the previous year, and 12 percent seriously considered suicide.

How did this occur?  Taylor Brandt searched for answers for his own issues.  He read The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure  and found it helpful.

The books’ central thesis is that young people have been “immersed in a world characterized by paranoid concerns for safety”. It leads to a distortion of their thinking and damaged mental well-being.  The next generation has had adversity removed from their lives, leading to unintended consequences.

The authors unpack “Three Great Untruths” which have negatively impacted the next generation.  Each Untruth has three things in common:  each contradicts ancient cultural wisdom as well as modern psychological research and does harm to those who embrace them.

The first Untruth is Fragility: “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.”  Instead, as Frederich Nietzche noted the truth is “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Just the opposite.

An example comes from biology and the development of the peanut allergy. It is attributed to parents and teachers in the 1990’s who started protecting children from peanuts even though the real incidence of allergy was only 4 out of 1,000 kids under 8.  By 2015, the rate was nearly 32%.

Attempting to protect children from harm might actually cause more harm. What is true in biology extends to economic and political systems, according to Nassim Taleb, author of Antifragil.

The next Untruth:  Emotional Reasoning. This is the triumph of emotional reasoning and decision making. Subjective feelings trump objective truth. Being in touch with your emotions is not always bad, but taken to an extreme, it leads to an overcorrection.

These connections to feelings has led younger people to think they are in constant danger (witness the embrace of climate change through a constant drum beat that the world will end in 12 years).

The last Untruth: Us Versus Them. Life is a battle between good people and evil people. This results in typecasting – you are either good or bad. Nothing in between. It has led to increased tribalism and “common enemy” and tribalism which humanizes people of different groups and sets them against one another.

Ironically, from a Christian worldview, we are all sinners after the fall in the Garden of Eden – broken sinful creatures who need God to save us from ourselves. We are given the opportunity of redemption through Jesus. We are actually a “common humanity”, not “common enemies.”

The authors of Coddling think the last Untruth  is a “Marxist approaches to social and political analysis”. It creates tribalism and class warfare leading to socialism (or worse)  A worldview that identify people as potential threats because of their perceived position of power is toxic. It may be one of the sources of Gen Z’s poor mental health.

The Untruths have resulted in Groupthink largely spawned by social media, something that didn’t exist in prior generations.

Tyler Brandt ends his article with a challenge to his generation:  adopt a worldview which is more generous to other people, seeing them not as just good or bad but being more nuanced than a stark all or none approach.

Finally, Tim Elmore suggests that there is now a normalization of anxiety. Based on the data and studies cited above, he is on to something.  We now have to approach the idea of phobias of the next generation, whether real or imagined, as something to be dealt with.

His suggestion is that we meet those with high anxiety with empathy. Telling them to “grow up” may be counterproductive until you have sympathized with them as a means of helping them withdraw from their emotional crises and bring them hope.

The challenge for parents and mentors alike is that we will need to be sensitive to the needs of the next generation in tackling their high levels of anxiety. The solution, of course, is a spiritual one.

Mentor Takeaway:  Phobia or not, the next generation has a high level of anxiety. Being able to discuss real issues as opposed to perceived threats to their safety may be beneficial to a mentee’s life.

Further Reading:  Antifragile: Things that Gain from DisorderTaleb

3 Harmful Ideas that are Weakening my Generation – Tyler Brandt

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure  Brandt and Lukianoff

WORSHIP: Listen to This We Know by Vertical Worship.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Resolved

resolution

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 I thought I would avoid the sappy New Year’s post about making good resolutions for 2020. Last week, I ended my post on Generosity suggesting that a good resolution would be to try and become more generous in 2020.

I reflected on how few resolutions stand the test of time, and a better idea is to suggest ways to make a resolution a reality.

Most annual resolutions don’t last a month. For decades, I have watched the annual crunch at health clubs and Y’s which occur in early January because people have made a resolution to become more fit.

By mid-February, health clubs have returned to normal. The “fit” resolution is well intended. But instead of becoming a year-long habit to good health, it is put in the rear-view mirror – at least until another New Year when it is likely dusted off and renewed.

Studies show that only 2% of New Year’s resolutions are kept, which means, that there is a 98% failure rate. One reason:  people bite off more than they can handle and set their expectations too high.

The old joke is how do you eat an elephant?  The answer:  One bite at a time. This is more profound than you might think because imbedded in this silly joke is the key to having success at achieving a lot of goals: start with small steps.

One man who had a job that kept him at a desk all day. He had a small paunch around his waist wanted to correct it.  A friend told him to start small by doing 2 pushups a day and to do an exercise called a plank for 20 seconds (it’s an exercise that strengthens stomach muscles).

A year later, he was up to 50  pushups a day and  could hold the plank position for 5 minutes. Oh, and his paunch went away. Why do small steps work?

Mark Twain put it this way: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”  If you focus on small steps to get started, they don’t feel overwhelming. Inertia begins and it’s easier to keep moving ahead.

From a small start, our mind is geared to being positively reinforced by having early success. It’s the ability to see results one step at a time. It also helps create valuable habits, which help us achieve larger goals.

Progress creates its own momentum. Teresa Amabile, author of The Progress Principle, found that progress creates the best work experience. The idea is that forward momentum in meaningful work creates the best result.

Stanford Professor Szu-chi Huang says, “When you are just starting a pursuit, feeling reassured that it is it’s actually doable is important, and achieving a sub-goal increases that sense of attainability.”  Going back to pushups, starting with 2 is achievable. Trying to do 20 might seem impossible.

Small steps which aren’t overwhelming means that they are more likely to last. “Sudden radical transformations don’t have the same staying power” according to Ann Gomez, a productivity and leadership consultant in an article in Thrive Global.

I took up riding a bike when I was 71. I started with short rides in our neighborhood – mostly 5 to 7 miles. From there I steadily increased them. To be honest, I did not set out to do long distances, but as I increased my stamina and strength, I was able to enjoy the experience.  Now, I consider a 20-mile ride a short ride.

The picture above is from the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. It commemorates the first power driven flight by man.

The complete inscription reads: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by Genius, achieved by Dauntless Resolution and Unconquerable Faith.”

It took the Wright brothers years to achieve success. They started with unpowered glider flights in 1899, leading to the first powered plane flight on December 17, 1903.

Their achievement is really a study of trial and error through small steps.  To get to the powered flight, they had to succeed at glider flights. It was one small step of many incremental steps leading to success.

The challenge is to make goals that we can achieve, like an annual New Year’s resolution. Starting with small steps is the best secret to long term success.

The lesson of starting small should be passed on to the next generation. They often have lofty goals and want to tackle big things, yet they need to realize that the best avenue to success may be to “think” small.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Helping your mentee achieve a larger goal by getting them to focus on small steps may be an important lesson.

FURTHER READING: The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement and Creativity   by Teresa Amabile

WORSHIP: Listen to You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Generosity

generous

generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Psalm 11:25

Giving and generosity heightens during the Christmas holiday season. But I prefer to think of being generous a 24//7 activity that occurs 365 days a year (366 in leap year, of course).

Some people are naturally generous – with their time, their talents and their resources. Some, however, are almost cruelly stingy which was brought to mind by a recent event. A neighbor was moving and had workers helping with transporting their furniture.

My wife, a natural giver, dropped by at lunch time and asked if she could make lunch for the hired hands. My neighbor was sitting in his kitchen eating his lunch. He looked up and said: “We’re not feeding them!”

This was right before Christmas when one would think that there would be some seasonal inclination of being kind to one’s fellow man. I still shake my head when I think of his response.

My wife and I had a meeting recently because she thought my generosity was getting out of hand. I love to do little things. I really wish I had more resources to do even more, but my wife feared that I was going to give away the store.

During our “meeting”, she said she wanted to have a budget so that she knew my giving t would be controlled. She suggested a number, and I said: “Sure, I’m happy to do that,”  Then she realized that she had set the number too high, but it was done.

Now I have license to give and a generous budget she approved.

In the past couple of months, I’ve given a $100 bill to several couples who have such busy lives that they have had little time or resources to go and have a nice date.  The only thing I asked in return was that they tell me where they went.  One gave me a thank you note detailing their date, complete with their menu selections.

It’s a small gesture of kindness and generosity. The amount of money is not large but it’s impact is seen and felt. I am encouraging them to do something for themselves – have a date with each other at a nice restaurant – something they might not have done on their own.

Over the years in my ministry work for MentorLink, I have encountered a number of people who are wonderful folks. Some of them have vibrant ministries. Some have needs that are way beyond their means. I am happy to chip in when I can because I know that I am investing in their lives which will produce fruit.

Sometimes the needs are personal – a badly broken leg of a son in Kenya or a complicated tooth extraction for a diabetic wife of a friend in India. I can’t do everything, but I prayerfully consider each instance and do what I can.

I helped a young woman in Africa with her wedding to a pastor. She calls me “Dad”, although that is more a term of familiarity than of family connection. I’m known as Uncle Bill most of the time.

I may never see her in person again, but it makes me smile to know that I helped someone celebrate a special event. Having paid for my own daughter’s wedding, I can candidly say that African weddings are quite inexpensive by comparison.

Generosity does not mean money.  It can be include wisdom. For me, that can translate into spending time with the next generations by spending time mentoring them. It can even be by writing a book like Gary Trawick.

Gary’s book, “Give Them Another Chance” contains anecdotal essays from his life as a Judge sitting on criminal cases in a small North Carolina town. It ends with a “Letter to Alex”, his 16-year-old grandson. In the letter, Gary gives advice to make life more meaningful, such as learning a second language and reading a newspaper.

One of his suggestions is to take a mission trip, something I have also recommended. He also suggests being a generous volunteer, another of my suggestions.  I won’t spoil it by giving all of his advice.

His book is short and pithy, a good read for young and old.  You don’t have to write a book to be generous. They are other way which use your own unique talents and resources – it’s up to you to figure out how to give yourself away.

You might be inspired by the song below which has the following lyrics: “I came here with nothing, but all you have given me; Jesus make new wine out of me.”

As we enter into a New Year, people often make resolutions. May I be so bold as to suggest one:  make a commitment to be more generous this next year.  You will be surprised at the hidden and unexpected dividends you receive. While you can’t out give God, you can make the world a little better place.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Top on my list of generous things is to mentor the next generation. It only takes time and a little effort, but well worth it.

FURTHER READING:  Gary Trawick’s book “Give Them Another Chance”  is a worthwhile read.

WORSHIP:  Listen to New Wine featuring Bethany Barnard.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Gen Z Distinctives

generations

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

The next generation consists of two groups:  one is the millennials whose age range is around 23 to 38.  Those aren’t hard and fast ages by the way, but just a general bracket.  The other group is called Gen Z – those under 22.

Gen Z is different. If you ask them if they are a millennial, they will quickly tell you that “I am not one of them.”   They are now old enough that we can follow some of their trends.

While they have many similarities with millennials, they have some notable differences which are the topic of this post.

Gen Z are generally more frugal, more anxious, more private and secretive, more restless, more digitally savvy, more nurtured, more entrepreneurial and finally, more inclusive than millennials.

They are more frugal. They are savers, not spenders. Gen Z has seen mistakes of the millennials when it comes to financing their college educations. As a result, most are much more likely to be wary of college debt. That’s a good thing.

Gen Z are more secretive and private according to a report by the Global Web Index.   They often use the vanishing message of Snapchat – more so than prior generations.  They are more individualistic and independent, with the majority often preferring to learn alone and be alone than prior generations.

They have seen the benefits and detriments of social media and its impact on the millennials.  Millennials fell prey to cyberbullies, stalkers – even to employers who searched their posts on Instagram or Facebook before interviews.  Gen Z is weary of “social sniping” and Facebook is now “old news”.

They are more anxious prior generations. Anxiety is commonplace and almost the “norm”. This generation suffers “from more mental health problems than any other generation in U.S. history”, according to Tim Elmore.  Elmore continues: “Both secondary schools and colleges report an insufficient number of counselors available to serve students seeking help on campus.”

They are more restless. Developing their identity to the realities around them has caused them to be more fluid. Many derive their identity from social media which only exacerbates the roller coaster ride. While their options for life are so wide and can be explored like never before, it is an arduous process for them when they are dealing with a shifting and volatile self-image.

They are more digitally savvy. No surprise that they spend the equivalent of a full-time job on their devices (9 hours).  The downside: According to the National Institute of Health study, kids who spend more than 7 hours a day digitally are more likely to experience premature thinning of the cortex. That’s the part of the brain that processes thought and action. They often multitask on five screens versus two for millennials.  Ouch!

They are more nurtured.  In fairness, this is not entirely their fault, but the fault of the helicopter parents who try to put their kids in bubble wrap to keep them safe and develop their self-esteem.  Protecting a child from all adversity  robs them of the experiences they will need as adults. 

Adversity and some level of stress is one of the best predictors of high life satisfaction according to Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford University psychologist, in her book “The Upside of Stress.” She suggests that “embracing and adapting to stress can provide important opportunities for personal growth.”

They are more entrepreneurial.  Studies show that Gen Z are more likely to volunteer their time (nearly 1 in 3), and 72% of high schoolers want to start a business.  They want to be “no-collar” workers, not just white collar or blue collar, which is probably a result of two recessions in this century.

While they may be more confident in their willingness to strike out on their own, they have to balance that confidence with the fact that they are risk averse.

They are more inclusive than any prior generation. Gen Z is more willing to be accepting of people regardless of race, sexual orientation, backgrounds or gender.  While global warming is the hot issue for millennials, equality – racial and gender – is the top issue for Gen Z.

As a result, they are most connected to the LGBTQ  community because of their innate individualism.  Their individualism also makes them more interested in leadership than millennials according to 2017 survey.  They will be leaders, not followers in years to come.

These are complex characteristics, and the challenge is to take these traits and mold them into the next generation of leaders.  They will have a large impact on the world, but they still need guidance and direction.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  A mentor can help Gen Z navigate their goals through the muddy waters of today’s culture.

FURTHER RESEARCH:  Trends of Gen Z – Global Web Index

Seven Characteristics that Distinguish Generation Z – Growing Leaders

Gen Z Unfiltered – an excellent book for parents and mentors by Tim Elmore.

The Upside of StressKelly McGonigal

WORSHIP: Listen to We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Mentoring 101

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18

I was privileged to be interviewed on Steve Noble’s radio show in Raleigh last week. He currently has a national network. Steve and I go back a long while. We both participate in a Friday morning bible study – one that I’ve been attending since 1983.

He started his radio show about 15 years ago. When Steve invited me, I asked him if there was any particular topic he had in mind. His answer:  “No, I just want to talk about mentoring.”

So we did. Below are two links. The first is a podcast of the radio show. The second is the video of the interview. The video covers the discussion that continued between the three station breaks.

Several (including my son) have suggested that I do podcasts but I’ve never quite gotten the courage to tackle another technology challenge.  This may be as close to one as I will get.

By the way, all of Steve Noble’s shows become podcasts which you can access through your podcast app, or search on YouTube or Facebook for the videos. I recommend them. He is lively and entertaining from a Christian worldview.

The show was entirely unscripted. Just question and answer. My wife thought I did a “good job” and was glad I used humor. She even said that she thought I sounded like my son who does podcasts frequently for Motley Fool.  I prefer to think that he sounds like me, his father, but that’s just me.

The interview gives some insights into mentoring as well as  an introduction to what MentorLink does.

I hope you enjoy it.

Podcast: http://thestevenobleshow.com/2019/12/04/mentoring-101/

YouTube:

 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  To those of mentoring age, please use these resources for others who may be considering taking up the investment in the lives of the next generation.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.

 

Tribes

tribe-samburu

That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord— to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. Psalm 122:4

Every adolescent is on a quest for developing an identity of who they are. In a social media peer driven culture, it is more important than ever for them

In The Element (How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything), Ken Robinson describes how finding an affinity group – a tribe – can have a significant impact on your life.  Tribes can have positive or negative impacts (see Groupthink and Fleas).

Robinson chronicles the search by Meg Ryan, an actress, to find her sweet spot in her career, or as Robinson calls it, her Element. It might be hard to believe, but Meg Ryan was petrified of public speaking and was unable to deliver her valedictorian speech in school.

After graduating from college, Meg Ryan considered lots of avenues, including joining the Peace Corp, or spending time “finding herself” by traveling to Europe.

Then she met an acting teacher, Peggy Fury, who got her interested in acting and becoming an artist. She pursued drama and surrounded herself with a group of people who saw the world the way she did and inspired her to be her best.

That was her “tribe” which caused her acting career took off. “What connects a tribe is a common commitment to the thing they feel born to do”,  according to Robinson.

Meg Ryan’s story resonated with me.  As a parent of a bright and creative son, I was dismayed when he struggled socially at a boarding school.  He didn’t seem to fit in and was treated as an outsider.  His difficulty with peers was perplexing because he was well liked at his previous schools.

Some students had even become abusive and he was bullied.  His solution was to avoid them at any cost, even if it meant not going to class. He was miserable.

During a Thanksgiving vacation, we managed to extract what was bothering him. Sometimes that’s hard because telling parents what is really going on is often difficult for adolescents. We did get to the truth, though, and we (my wife and I) searched for solutions with him.

Over a period of several days, I struggled with what to tell him. I realized that, even at 16 years of age, he needed buy into whatever choice was made. It was his life. I suggested options which included either dropping out,  switching to another school or returning home to our local high school.

I asked him if there was any person on the faculty at his school with whom he felt connected.  He said he liked his German teacher, someone I had met years before.

I called his German teacher and asked him if he would be take my son under his wing with his away from home. His response surprised me:  He said that he had just gone through the same issues with his own daughter and would be glad to help.

My son returned to school, and the rest, as they say, is “history”.  The German teacher encouraged my son to get involved in drama at the school.  He quickly connected with a group of students who were like him and welcomed him for who he was.

It found the “tribe” that he had been searching for but had looked in all the wrong places. He found creative kids who had similar interests.  He still hangs out with some of those friends today, albeit 30 years later.

While my son didn’t pursue acting, his involvement in drama was a key for finding a group of people who influenced and encouraged him when he really needed it. It helped him discover himself which was liberating.

I have always been grateful to my son’s German teacher.  In retrospect,  I see his role as a mentor: he provided invaluable guidance, support and assistance to my son that we, his parents, could not.

Fast forward to today: my son’s children have all been members of their High School Band which has won the Virginia State Championship for the past consecutive eight years. We joined them a couple of weeks ago at the National Band Championships. They competed against the best of the best.

One takeaway from the band competition was that 96% of kids participating in High School Bands finish school. I attribute that to the “Tribe” effect – belonging to a cohesive group of kids who are similarly inclined. They have all developed a level of discipline as musicians and students.

The challenge here is that the next generation are searching for their “Element” in life. It often may involve something as simple as finding their tribe. In my son‘s case (and in the case of Meg Ryan), the solution may come from someone who is not a parent.  A mentor can be an invaluable key to unlocking their identity in life, possibly by connecting them to the right tribe.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   Helping your mentee find his “Tribe” may be the single best thing you can do for them.

FURTHER READING:  The Element (How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything)  Robinson

WORSHIP: Listen to O Holy Night – Love Shines Bright

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Note: the picture above is of the Samburu tribe in Kenya.