They divided them impartially by casting lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar. 1 Chronicles 24:5

Life is fun, and often you discover things in quite unexpected places.  I’ve been thinking of this topic for some time, but hadn’t developed it very far.  Last night, since my wife stayed in Raleigh for an extra day, I ate dinner by myself at a local restaurant called Dugan’s Pub in Pinehurst.  They have great chicken wings. Since I was alone, I sat at the bar rather than be  seated at table because the restaurant was crowded.

As I was munching on my wings, a man came and sat down two seats away.  I asked him if he was here to play golf, and he said yes. We then talked about great courses he had played, including the three highly rated courses in Kohler, Wisconsin.  One thing led to another, and I mentioned that I had done a blog on how I came to play golf entitled “Flog”.  He was interested so we pulled it up on my phone and he enlarged it so he could read it since he didn’t have his glasses.

He loved the verse I had chosen (1 Corinthians 15:33) and our conversation continued. He admitted he had two older children, now in their 20’s, and that he had been a terrible parent to them.  He also had an 8-year-old and he felt better about his role as a father.  Of course, those in their 20’s are part of Generation iY.  We talked about their profile for a while.  He was from Generation X (i.e. born before 1980), and was having issues with connecting with Generation Y (those born after 1980).

Then he said something that interested me.  He said he would rather take advice from a stranger like me than from someone he who was part of his family. He looked at me and said “I can tell you care about me.”  “I would take advice from you before I would take it from my uncle.”

Which leads me back to the title of this – impartiality.  We talked some more about the role of a mentor.   One of the things is that they provide is impartial advice.  Mentors should have no agenda, which often is perceived by adolescents when they get advice from parents or family. The agenda of a mentor is to help improve the life of the mentee – to make them the best that they can be based on what talents, interests, gifts and passions God has blessed them with.

Having practice law for 45 years, the concept of impartiality is imbedded in our justice system.  Justice is said to be “blind” meaning that the justice system is supposed to be neutral and objective.  A judge is supposed to make a ruling in a case based solely on the facts of the matter and the applicable law. It is not to be based on public opinion, the views of special interest groups or even a judge’s own personal beliefs.

At least that’s how it is supposed to be. I will digress only to say that in some courts in the United States, politics and public opinion take precedence over “blind justice”. When that happens, the populace lose faith that the system will not work as it should.

As a result, lawyers, do “forum shopping.”  They know which courts are “friendly” to their case, and will file the case in the friendly jurisdiction in order to improve their chances of success. I can cite a lot of cases from my own experience where this has happened.  Even a system that is supposed to be impartial fails in real life.

Getting back to the concept of impartiality, the younger generation is looking for mentors – someone who is outside their family circle who can provide them an impartial sounding board.  A mentor doesn’t have any baggage or agenda to deal with.  His or her advice is based on his or her own experience, education or reasoning.   I recently asked one of my mentees why he continued to meet with me, and his response was immediate: “You are a great sounding board.”

The only difference from the man at the bar in the restaurant and the millennials is that millennials require trust before they will listen. The conversation I had with this man would not have occurred with a millennial.  Millennials would require that I first establish a closer relationship with them before I would be permitted to speak into their lives in a way they would accept.

Establishing trust with millennials takes time. It does not happen during a chance conversation at a bar (unless the conversation is with someone from an older generation).  Trust is “earned” through forming a deep relationship and being transparent and authentic.

A recent Pew survey said this: “[J]ust 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents and 40% of Boomers.”  (Note: “Gen X’ers”, “Silents” and “Boomers” are all older generations born before 1980).

On a personal note, the disdain that adolescents have for their parents’ advice does wear off after a while – usually in early adulthood.  That’s when the adolescent’s perspective has advanced to see that a parent’s advice was often correct, even if they could not “hear” it at the time.

In the past two weeks, I have been approached by several in their 20’s looking for a mentor. One is a young woman in another city.  That one will be a challenge, because I need to find one for her. She learned about what a mentor does from a business colleague of hers that I mentor, and immediately wanted one of her own.  She deserves that. It’s our obligation to reach out to the next generation and help.

I met with the other 20 something just yesterday.  It was a good start, and he is anxious to set up more sessions as our schedules will permit. He found me, not the other way around. He read one of my posts (“We is Better the Me”) and sent me a blind email thanking me for it and wondering if I had any resources that could help him. He didn’t realize I live close by and was surprised when I replied ““What are you doing next Tuesday?”

The challenge here is obvious. As a potential mentor, you are being sought out by the next generation to provide impartial input.  You don’t have a stake in the outcome, other than to see your protégé advance in life to be the best they can be.  You can help them overcome challenges with neutral advice.  You can help them problem solve by analyzing their options, or even helping them consider options that they might not have considered. In a word, you can be that impartial sounding board that they need when life throws challenges in their direction.

FURTHER STUDY:  Read “6 New Findings about Millennials” from Pew Research (March 7, 2014) including their lack of trust:

WORSHIP:  One thing we know for sure, and that is we can trust in God. Listen to Lauren Daigle sing “Trust In You”:

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