Mentoring: When You're not Needed Anymore

I have a piece of advice for Mentors: When you're not needed anymore, then get out of the way! I've learned this from some brilliant men in my life. In particular, there was a senior chief back on my first ship, between 1998-2000 who really guided me along. Jojo Vicencio was the primary influence in my life for a long time and is still a good friend.

Yet Jojo knew when he had fulfilled his purpose in my life, and he gracefully bowed out and we entered more of a general (not that it's boring or mundane) friendship at that point. I am grateful for that time period. I needed an experienced sailor, especially one who was a believer, to point me in the direction I needed to go. But the great thing about Jojo is that he understood God's role for him.

Over the last few weeks, some of the guys I've been mentoring on our deployment have needed me less. I've seen the writing on the wall. The time is coming when they won't need me at all.

For example, a young man I have been mentoring, both as a sailor and as a believer, started this deployment back in January with a lot of questions. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his career, he needed direction some outside issues, and he wanted some spiritual direction as well. I was so happy to give as much help as I could, although I admit that he needed help from our chaplain and I'm sure others as well. This young man is now a seminary student (currently via distance learning) and is applying to become a chaplain in the US Navy. Bottom line: I performed God's role for me in his life, by advising him regarding seminary and chaplaincy.

And now he's moving on...he needs me less and less each week. In fact, now that he and I are in our respective seminary classes, I would suggest that he doesn't need me at all.

There is a slight tinge of sadness there, and I don't think it's all pride. You see, it's the end of one road for me as a mentor. I did my part and it was successful. He will, like I do, need more mentors as his life progresses, but I believe my part is over.

As a mentor, I can look with satisfaction over his life...a life I helped to guide. I'm grateful for the opportunity, grateful for his acknowledgment of my wisdom in the areas in which he needed, and grateful that it worked out for both of us. Someday, he may need me again, but I doubt it. This is the way it works for mentoring.

If you're a mentor, please understand that there will probably come a time when your protege won't need you, at least not as much as he used to. This is perfectly fine and actually shows that your efforts were a success. Enjoy it! And then start looking for someone else to help!


Stephanie Kay said...

Hmm.. sounds kind of like parenting. :)

The Navy Christian said...

Small wonder that Paul called Timothy his "son", don't you think?

Thanks for pointing that out, Stephanie...I do think that mentoring is a little like parenting, and I will focus on that in a future post.