Dead Mentors

I confess that I have many flaws that need paying attention to. One of them is that, for some reason, I have a hard time opening up deeply to others. Part of the problem is that I can never be sure how deep people want me to go- that is, someone might ask me, for example, how things are going in ministry. I am never sure how much that person wants to know, how in depth he or she wants to get. So I tend to leave it in the realm of superficials. You might be thinking to yourself, "Well, that's just how it is in every day conversation." But I am actually talking about people I am close with, who more than likely really DO want me to go in depth, people who I might consider mentors even. But for some reason, I have a wall when it comes to going really deep, and I think a big part of it is that I don't want to be seen as hogging the conversation.

On the flip side, I am much more comfortable asking others the questions, allowing them to go deep. I don't try to offer too much in the way of insight or advice; I do like to ask the right question, however, to make the person really think about where they are at and maybe where they are going, or to rethink a position he or she might have taken. This is an area where I feel gifted in.

But it means I have to find ways to be mentored to, since I am less proactive about seeking it out. I am working on being deeper and more open with others, but in the mean time, I love to find mentors anyway that I can. I find that watching presentations by others, say on TED or other ministers who I respect. I find a lot of help by reading about the lives of others and picking up works that they have left behind as well. I think this works well for me because, in books and in presentations, there is a cut to the chase. In other words, if there is an issue I need help with, I can find a book or a talk that deals directly with that issue. Or I can find a biography or autobiography of someone who has applied the kind of wisdom I need.

So I wanted to ask you- who do you turn to, perhaps in book or song or piece of art, that helps shape who you are or who you are becoming? You can share whoever you want, of course, but I would like to hear what person who is no longer living has helped shape you the most?

Some of mine, to get the conversation going:
St. Francis of Assisi
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Oswald Chambers
G.K. Chesterton
C.S. Lewis
Thomas Merton

How about you? Who are your dead mentors?

  1. Anonymous

    Brenda Ueland. which you already know of course, but though there are many that have been an influence & a guide for me over the years, she is one of the few that has been consistently there, & who i always go back to, re-learning again & again the most simple truths. to me, she has all the depth & wisdom of the more prolific – & arguably more knowledgeable – writers of both past & present relevance, but she communicates with a simplicity & practicality that many others lack.

  2. I absolutely agree, commonflow. I don't know that I ever told you this, but I think I might have: I never wanted to finish her book. So I constantly started it over, again and again. I finally did finish it, but I've since reread and reread and go back, just as you do.

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