Fatherhood in a Technological World – Message #50
This is an especially important subject for men, and it helps to be familiar with some of the key characteristics of a good mentor. For all of you men, whether you are a father or not, having access to a mentor, or another man with mentor qualities is an extremely valuable resource.
For some of you, seeking a mentor is important, for others, being ready to step up to a mentoring positions is equally important.
The problems each of us face in any given challenge or crisis in our lives is as diverse as can be but what I’ve observed, common traits of a good mentor are these:
- A good active listener
- Maintains confidentiality
- Willing to be accessible (within reason) on a regular basis.
- A genuine compassion for others
These particular traits do not require a degree in counseling or extensive training, and some are innate, like being genuinely interested in others. The ability of a mentor to solve problems is not important, what is more important is to help validate what others are going through and possibly guiding them using their own reason and logic to their own solutions.
Being Part of a Community – and not being really connected
You would think that being part of a church community would help people from going off the deep end or possibly committing suicide. I’m afraid to say that is not the truth.
I have had a two friends who belonged to the same church committed suicide in separate instances. That fact has always troubled me and I feel there is some responsibility for a lack of leadership to do a better job of empowering members of the congregation and proactively creating connections to help bind the members.
My experience seeking a mentor after my father passed away in 1996, was an odd experience for me. What I did initially was to send letters directly to two older men in the church who I respected, asking them, by letter, if I could meet with them on occasion just to benefit from their knowledge and wisdom. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with their responses, they were not un-polite, but I could sense they were wary of the request and resistant to that kind of commitment. I was not suicidal, but certainly was in need of an older and wiser counsel.
Help is available if you know where to find it
Why I didn’t do this in the beginning, I am not sure, but looking back I think the more appropriate method would have been to go through the pastor or someone on staff so I could be guided to someone who was ready and willing to take on that role, which is what I eventually did and ended up being assigned a trained counselor through the Stephen Ministry project. I think that, because I was a long term member of the church and knew the men I originally approached, I just didn’t expect they would hesitate to help me.
The church my family attends now, is really into inviting people for prayer and for help if they are going through any stressors. They also have what are called “Life Groups” which are groups of people of the community who are connected together on a more personal basis. I believe this simple structuring of the congregation shows good leadership and understanding of the importance of people being connected.
Not everyone belongs to a church
What I am suggesting is, you never know when you will be approached or discover someone you know who could use someone to help and if you have the essential skill set to be a mentor, or at least an intentional friend, our communities will be stronger. While I believe something like a Stephen Ministry is a great opportunity for someone to learn how to help at that level, I do not believe people need to go through that kind of extensive training just to help someone by being a friend. Developing a few key abilities will go a long way. You can help.
About Fatherhood in a Technological World
Fathers of young children in today’s modern society are facing unprecedented challenges with the wave of technology allowing ever easier access to the internet. The effect on your children has and will have a great influence on their growth. As a parent, you may be feeling the anxiety of having to confront the challenges of being at the end of the rail of the powerful forces driving technology into the laps and hands of your children.
Your work is cut out for you are a father. Even though popular culture doesn’t do well to herald the value of the leadership role of men in the form of fathers, let me tell you right now, being a father in this time and age has never been more important.
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