Tag Archives: Relationships

Beyond Mentoring – A Call for Symbiotic Relationships

18 Feb

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2015. http://www.aaronrobertphotography.com

Mentoring is a hot topic these days within the church.  Many people say they want to find a mentor, however, few actually do the work (or find the courage) to acquire one.  Sharon Parks writes, “Restoring mentoring as a cultural force could significantly revitalize our institutions and provide the intergenerational glue to address some of our deepest and most pervasive concerns.” (Parks 2000, 12)  This quote acknowledges that our deepest concerns about our society and the church cannot be solved by one sector of society, but will require a unified vision of all generations.

Many young adults seek after mentors within their vocational fields in order to build their knowledge, contacts, and other resources.  Emerging adults are taught to seek after mentors in order to advance.    This perspective of mentoring further defines mentoring as a relationship where one gives to another.  One partner of the relationship is a gatekeeper to money, fame, experience, or advancement.

Mentoring is defined as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.”  (Merriam-Webster, Online).  This definition clearly expresses a unidirectional relationship where one gives, and the other receives.  However, anyone who has spent significant time with a person from another generation knows that both individuals give, and both individuals receive.  Healthy human relationships are omnidirectional where giving and receiving moves in both directions.

As Millennials come of age, a new perspective of mentorship has emerged, one which is changing our understanding and praxis of mentorship.  Kinnamen states, “Are you open to “reverse” mentoring, wherein you allow younger leaders to challenge your faith and renew the church?”  (Kinnamen, 205) Setran and Kiesling in their excellent book Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood say, “…guidance still desperately needed but it is a guidance that is dialogical and mutual rather than unidirectional mentoring (Setran, 206).  We must acknowledge the interdependence of human relationships among generations.  While many resort to the word mentoring, the concept has changed and requires us to go beyond.

© 2011 Lakshmi Sawitri, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Scientists use the term symbiosis to describe relationships that exist for the mutual benefit of each individual.  One example of a symbiotic relationship is the Goby Fish and Snapping Shrimp.  The near-blind shrimp relies on the eyes of the Goby fish while constructs and maintains borrows on the ocean floor.  With one flap of his tail, the fish communicates to his partner that danger is present.  Another example is the African Oxpecker’s relationship with various large African animals.  Larger animals are cleared of ticks by the Oxpecker who live off the ticks (and according to more recent findings, the blood of their host as well).  Symbiosis illustrates the interdependence relationships that God designed humans to develop. (Here is a scientific article on the topic.)

© 2009 Ian White, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

We were designed by God to be in relationships with others.  Interdependent relationships cause growth and maturity.  Interdependent relationships supply love and encouragement.  Interdependent relationships provide personal significance (“My life matters to another person.”)

The time has come when we are called to go beyond mentoring.  We must seek relationships in which we give and receive.  We must move from independence into interdependence.  We must call others to do the same.





Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by Setran and Kiesling

You Lost Me by David Kinnamen

Big Questions, Worthy Dreams by Sharon Parks


Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to provide resources to parents and churches as they seek to help emerging adults.

Pursue Her: A Message to Single Guys

5 Sep

Pursue HerI found this video online, and thought that the single guys would enjoy it.


Learning to Express Man-Worthy Emotions

23 Jul

We all know that…

Men don’t have emotions.

Men don’t speak with emotions.

Men don’t understand emotions.

Men are unable to change these facts. Continue reading

Boys And Girls

21 Jun

“A woman can become a man’s friend only in the following stages – first an acquaintance, next a mistress, and only then a friend.”
– Anton Chekov

The question of whether or not men and women can really be “just friends” is one that comes up over and over. Clearly, this is a situation where intelligent, thoughtful people can disagree. (I constantly disagree with myself about it.) (Ya know, in a non-schizophrenic fashion.) It even came up in church last night, when my pastor was encouraging the men in the congregation to involve themselves more in women’s lives. In third service, we get to ask questions at the end of the sermon, so my hand shot up: “How can men do that without misleading women about why they’re there?”

My pastor, to his constant credit, conceded that he didn’t know. He even asked the congregation for their ideas. The room was silent. This is one area where we are all short on wisdom.

I have some of my own ideas, and I will lay them out for you. Let me acknowledge right now that I may have some flawed assumptions. If you notice one, or otherwise take issue with anything here, please share your disagreement. Maybe we can get at something that approaches the truth. Continue reading

Give Her A Compliment, Man!

7 Apr


I recently did a very manly thing: I complimented a girl.

I told her she looked gorgeous, actually. There was no ulterior motive. I wasn’t dared to do it. It wasn’t feigned or forced. I thought she looked particularly pretty, and I told her so. Continue reading

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