Good Deposit


Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.    2 Timothy 1:14

This is a rewrite from a post I did in early 2016.  The fact that I’ve been doing this blog that long still mystifies me. The above passage comes from Paul’s letter to Timothy; it was instructive both then and today.

An old classmate put a message on social media to support a mutual friend whose sister had recently died.  The message resonated with me: it gave a word picture of  making a “good deposit” in someone else. Here’s the message:

“They marked us, you know. Your mother, Georgia, Imogene, Mrs. France, Mrs. Ferguson, Mrs. Giesleman…. all of them…. too many precious ones to name.

‘They marked us with their love, with what they deposited in us, and what we learned from them. Life lessons and skills and grace that keeps on giving our entire lives. Grace that grows within us and extends to those we encounter. Through us, their love gets re-deposited in people they will never know.”

“My sister said to me: ‘You have more fun at funerals than anyone I know’.  I had to think about that… how to take it. It isn’t “fun”…. it is joy.  Joy in the process of recalling and appreciating what those persons have given me; what their gifts in the past have contributed to my life.”

We never know how far the influence of one life reaches until it is extinguished, and people come forth with those ‘precious memories’.”

This was a remarkable tribute – I hope when I die that someone can say the same about me. I have gone through life thinking that mentoring is really no more than making a “good deposit” in someone else. It’s that simple.

When you go the bank to make a deposit to your account,  you can write “For Deposit Only” on the back of a check.  Your deposit will increase the value of what is already in the account.

Mentoring is like that – you are making a deposit in someone else’s life of your wisdom, love, experiences in order to enhance what is already there.  But the image doesn’t stop with just the initial deposit.

One of the biblical imperatives is to “pass it on” to future generations.  That’s what the author was talking about when she said that the life lessons, skills and love that were deposited in us will get “re-deposited in people [you] will never know”.

Who deposited values and character in you?  It might have been a friend, a coach, a parent or relative, or, if you are fortunate, someone who mentored you along the way.  They invested in you for your benefit, not for their own, and the expectation is that you would do the same in the lives of others.

 If someone has made a deposit in your life, don’t wait until their funeral to thank them.

Who are you making deposits in at this moment?  If you can’t think of anyone, maybe it’s time to start and be intentional in the lives of others. The next generations are desperate for someone to mentor them, but the older generation has largely ignored their pleas.

A man heard me talk about mentoring at our Friday Bible study recently. He came up afterwards to talk.   He told me that his life had been one disaster after another and that he didn’t think he had anything to offer the younger generation.

As I listened, I thought of the Albert Einstein quote: “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”  I encouraged the man that he was just the right person to help others avoid what he had painfully experienced.  That’s what mentoring does and is.

If you think of eternity as an endless line, our existence on earth is just a dot on the line.  Hard to think of yourself as just a “.” on a line that goes to infinity, but that’s a good visual of the length of our lives here on earth.

Stacy Rinehart calls it living for the line, not the dot.

Stacy adds: “What is amazing is that we can do things in this life that have an eternal impact and bear fruit that lasts forever”. Making deposits in others is a way to live for the line – where your investments in lives of others will impact their values, character and even their careers or outcomes.

Those deposits will get passed on to others “you will never know”.  That’s living for the line, not for the dot.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You will never know the impact a deposit has in another person or to others they pass it on to. It may have eternal significance.

 FURTHER STUDY:  Lead In Light of Eternityby Stacy Rinehart is available at Amazon.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Christy Nockels sing Waiting Here for You.

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A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.Proverbs 17:17

One of the root causes of millennial and Generation Z having difficulty in life is that they have been subject to a parenting style that removes adversity, competition and failure from their lives.

A recent example:  the college entrance scandal where i) parents have paid tutors to take college entrance exams, or ii) have made huge donations, or iii) faked their child’s resume so that they appear athletic.

The parents are now being prosecuted for felonies and may spend time in jail.  The children they protected must live life under the stigma of having “cheated” the college admission system.

Students who were improperly aided have been expelled from college. Given the internet and its ability to record everything about a person, their fate will last forever. Search engines like Google or Bing will bring it up in any future background check.

I have twin grandsons, both soccer players (or football to everyone outside of the U.S.).  They played a tournament in Barcelona. In their first game, they met a Portuguese team that beat them badly. They weren’t prepared for a different style of play on a shorter field.

My son approached the loss with an almost ambivalent attitude.  While losing was hard, he said it was good for them to learn “how to lose”. I admired his wisdom. In today’s culture, few parents appreciate how important it is for the children to deal with failure or adversity.

My first taste of adversity came in high school. I transferred  from a local public school to a private school 250 miles away. My classmates seemed to be adjusting well.  I wasn’t, and I almost flunked out.

I had skated through public school without doing any homework. I didn’t know how to study. But I learned.

It took a summer of tutoring and taking a make-up Latin exam for me to stay in school. My parents did not interfere although they were supportive.

It was up to me to succeed or fail.  It was not fun at the time. I came out of the experience a stronger person.

Life is not about winning all of the time. Setbacks and losses need to be experienced in order for us to grow up.

To avoid impacting self-esteem, today everyone is given a participation trophy. No matter if they contributed or not. Everyone “wins”, except they don’t deserve it.

One result is that the next generation is afraid of failure, which often paralyzes them when making life decisions. They haven’t experienced  failure, and don’t know how to overcome their fears.

An essay in the Wall Street Journal highlights cultural issues with girls in particular. Having a healthy competitive drive is seen as essential for reaching “for the top”. Research shows that girls are conflicted: they are reluctant to compete because “they have trouble managing the stress and emotions that go along with competition.”

Boys are socialized to thinking competing is fun, even if they are battling their friends.  Competition, at its essence, means that there are winners and losers. Participation trophies don’t tell you who won a contest, race, match or event.

My take on female competitiveness is colored by my wife, one of the most competitive individuals on this planet. I know of no other person who times herself on the microwave when she washes dishes to see if she can “beat the clock”.

Her competitive nature is healthy. Everything (and I do mean everything) in life becomes a game, and it’s fun to be around someone who sees life that way.

It’s important for children, especially girls, to learn to compete and lose. Letting them win when you play against them actually is counterproductive because it sends a “signal that beating them is unkind.” Instead, one should encourage and celebrate a “smart move” within the competition.

A Harvard study covers the Science of Resilience: Why Some Children can thrive despite adversity. The conclusion: “Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a committed adult.”

I didn’t need a Harvard study to tell me that.

The study goes on that “in the absence of responsive relationships [with a supportive adult], the “brain’s architecture doesn’t develop optimally.”

This is a clarion call for mentoring, particularly with a large segment of the next generation who grew up in single parent homes or had absentee parents in their lives.

Competition develops a sense of mastery over life circumstances and strong self-regulation skills. Learning to cope with manageable threats to our physical and social well-being is critical for the development of resilience.”

Life is learned through trial and error, winning and losing, accomplishing things and having setbacks. It is not linear.  But if you take the downside out of life, you produce a very damaged product. Having to walk the path alone with no mentor or parent to guide you is problematic.

The challenge here is that too many of the next generation are walking through adversity with no one alongside investing in them.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Never underestimate your influence on your mentee when they face adversity.


The Science of Resiliency (Harvard)

Stanford kicks out student in college admissions scandal

Posts on Resiliency and Failure.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Holy Groundby Passion with the lyric: “Jesus Changes Everything”

Picture courtesy of Dan Rush.

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selfie cliff

Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you. 
Proverbs 2:11

 SRT is a new acronym which burst on the scene after smartphones became ubiquitous.  SRT stands for Selfie Related Trauma.  Smartphones have proliferated since 2007. One feature is the ability to take what is now called a “selfie”, or a picture of the phone user with others.

The next generation is a fan of selfies – non-stop pictures with their image along with a friend or a special place in the background.  They usually portray a happy scene, even though research shows that the next generation has more depression and suicide than prior generations.

SRT occurs when someone takes a selfie in a dangerous spot and gets hurt. Recently, a millennial lady climbed across two barriers in a zoo to take a picture with a jaguar. The jaguar attacked and mauled her. Fortunately, the injuries were not life threatening.

SRT is now being tracked statistically.  There have been 259 deaths since 2011.  The leading cause is drowning, followed by incidents from transportation (standing in front of a moving train), falls from heights, electrocution and firearms.

Every one of them was preventable. About 75% of the lethal selfies were males. The author of a recent study concluded that this has become a large “health problem”.

The study’s conclusion: They should create “no-selfie zones” around bodies of water, mountain peaks and tall buildings.  The Journal of Travel Medicine notes that taking a selfie can result in a lack of situational awareness and distraction.

The Journal continues: self-photography using a forward lens of a smart phone has emerged as a “phenomenon in recent years” and is “particularly common in young adults.”

Another SRT death was by a young  married couple in Yosemite National Park in California. The couple, in their early 30’s, took a selfie at Taft Point which has no railing and an 800-foot vertical drop.

The camera on a tripod had an image of the couple before they fell. Park rangers used binoculars to find their bodies below.

Selfies are here to stay, or at least until the next technology comes along which helps the next generation to satisfy their need for self-admiration. They are what I have called “digitally-obsessed” by social media.

It is not just a North America phenomenon:  “More people died taking selfies in India than anywhere in the world.  Way more.”  Other countries include Russia, Pakistan, and of course, the U.S.

As I have noted, the millennial in America is not much different from the millennial in the rest of the world.  85% of fatalities from taking selfies comes from those between the ages of 10 and 30.

SRT is the subject of comprehensive studies as a “growing problem of the modern society.”

The culprit?:   “Large-scale use of cell phone(s) worldwide and underlying risk in selfie behavior seems the culprit.”   One person has invented the word “selfieside”, a play on “suicide”.  Not sure it has caught on, but it’s meaning is clear.

Social media became the platform for people to post their selfies, often with remarkable backgrounds. It didn’t take much time for people to try to outdo their friends, and, Voila, we have a problem.

The BBC reported that “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life or your well-being.”  India, Russia and Indonesia have now started establishing “no-selfie” zones.  Russia now has graphic signs with icons showing people taking dangerous selfies with a red bar.

Thailand has gone so far as to outlaw selfies on Mai Khao Beach where tourists flock to swim, sunbake and watch planes. The planes fly extremely low overhead before landing at Phuket International Airport.

Thailand declared the beach a no-picture zone. The maximum penalty for violation is the death sentence, although you could get lucky and just 20 years of jail time.

Some instances of SRT are on the annual list of the Darwin Awards, including taking a selfie next to a wild bear.  The awards commemorate “ Continue reading “SRT”



He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28

There has been a long-held belief that chronological age goes hand in hand with maturity. The transition from adolescence to adulthood was measured by birthdays. You became an adolescent as a teenager.

When you reached 21, you were considered an adult for most purposes. Then, at least in the Western world, the age for certain things dropped to 18 (such as voting, signing contracts, etc. ). Most states prohibit someone under 21 from buying alcohol (which is a good thing).

But for most of my life, turning 21 was a rite of passage into adulthood and everyone assumed that it was the real test of maturity.   Well, until recently.

Starting in the 1980’s, researchers found  that the normal chronological benchmarks that had existed for much of the 20th century no longer applied. In fact, some authors saw this early on, such as Gail Sheehy, who wrote a book in the 1980’s and then another one (New Passages) updating it 10 years later to re-test her research.

Her thesis is that the benchmarks we grew up with – being an adult at 21, and middle-aged in your mid-40s – had slid 10 years. Becoming an adult did not match chronological age any more.

Sociologists like Tony Compolo wrote extensively about the impact of over-parenting in Who Switched the Price Tags in 1986.  His conclusion, as a sociologist, was that parents have raised a generation of kids who don’t want to become adults.

Not surprisingly, studies by neuroscientists have found that the human brain doesn’t completely develop until the early 20’s.

Things get even more confused by a recent push in the U.S. to reduce the age for voting from 18 to 16.  Given the research, I would think it would make more sense for the age to go up, not down.

A new study by British scientists confirms that people don’t become adults until their 30’s.  The study by an Oxford professor, Peter Jones,  basically says that the transition from childhood to adult is more nuanced and that the brain generally doesn’t mature completely until at least the age of 30.

Jones notes that the date you arrive as an adult may be “different for everybody.”  He notes that societal definitions of adulthood based purely on age “looks increasingly absurd.”

Millennials, in general, have demonstrated that they are not ready for adulthood until their late 20’s or early 30’s. Many still live with their parents. They haven’t matured to the point that they have checked off several steps that most societies use in determining someone has reached adult status:

  • Completing education
  • Getting a job
  • Leaving a parental home
  • Forming a committed relationship
  • Becoming a parent

Close to 25% of millennials aged 21 to 34 still live with their parents in the U.S. even though the recession is over and jobs are plentiful.  For those in their 20’s, the numbers are even worse with 33% of millennials living with parents. It’s the highest percentage in 75 years.

Based on the above matrix of indicators, it’s a pretty simple test of where a millennial is on the road to adulthood:  Are you still living with your parents?

This is a broad brush-stroke on maturity, but the evidence is fairly strong. I do need to say that I don’t measure all millennials by this.  I know many in their 20’s and early 30’s who have achieved adulthood by any measure, not just years.

One additional component, as Compolo noted, is the over-parenting.  You’ve heard of the “helicopter parent” who hovers constantly over their children.  Now you have a more robust version called either the “lawnmower” or “snowplow” parent, who assiduously plow down any obstacle or possible failure in the path of their children.

In one study,  graduates two years out of college admitted that they didn’t think they were “adults” yet.

There is no reliable way to determine when one is an adult other than the five criteria above. Those may occur at 20, or they may occur at 34.  The latter two – forming a serious relationship and parenting –  are occurring much later (if at all) in the millennial world.

In a future post, I will look at what happens to adolescents when they have all adversity removed from their life. Hint:  it is not a good result.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee may be old enough to be an adult from the passage of time, but inside may be ill equipped to make adult decisions. You can help them along that path by walking beside them.


Pew Research on young adults living at home.

British Study on Brain Maturity in the 30’s.

An earlier post of mine on Maturity.

Millennials have too many Feelings and Their Parents are to Blame. Newsweek (2018)

Millennials and Having Kids – A Problem for their Parents  Forbes

Millennials Marrying Later  NY Times

WORSHIP:  Listen to Holy Ground by Passion with the lyric: “Jesus Changes Everything”

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to

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