We Are Interpreters

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Mentors benefit from evaluated experience, having the maturity of having lived a season or two longer than our mentees. Maturity helps us to see things from the longer term.

Tim Elmore shared with me his insights into the millennial generation. I’ll never forget this one . . . “Parents have to be interpreters for their kids.” Boom!

Interpreters take information from one context and turn it into usable, helpful information in another. Young people may be super-smart but they don’t have experience. They speak the language of emotion . . . they deal in feelings over facts. They’re experiencing many things for the first time. They have data without context.

Dads help their kids interpret what’s happening around them. For example, when his 14-year-old doesn’t make the junior varsity team, Dad interprets that event in a truthful, useful way . . . “Giving it your best effort is all you can do, and that’s what you did. Rest in that, keep working and trust God with the outcome. If you’re going to grow to be a great player, He’ll decide that. You have to do the work . . . He won’t ever do that part for you. But you can trust that He’ll be there with you and for you regardless . . . no matter what.”

Or when his little girl doesn’t get invited to a party . . .

“Sweetheart, there will be a lot of parties between now and when you are all grown up. Young girls have their own reasons for who they invite to things. Sometimes, they’re afraid of being upstaged by someone. Sometimes their parents only let them invite a certain number of people. Sometimes they forget about girls who aren’t their very best friends. No matter the reason, this time you’re getting to do something else. You know which of your friends truly, truly cares about you and know you’d be at any party they had. You get to choose not to take this personal. Not to hold a grudge and to thank God you’re loved by Him and by us, party or no party!”

Mentors help interpret reality for their mentees.

Once a young man in my group was hacked at his wife. “She’s just so freaking selfish. All she thinks about is herself,” he railed. “So, how many children do you have?” I asked (knowing they had four and his wife worked outside the home). “Four,” he said sheepishly. “And how much time did you spend in the kitchen helping out last night?” He looked down. “When was the last time you took the kids for a whole day so she could have a few hours of freedom?” I kept piling on. Finally, I said, “Look, you’re hacked because you’ve got expectations of her and she’s not meeting them. How on earth could she find the bandwidth to do all she does with little to no help from you? Is the problem selfishness on her part or your expectations? Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. He gave up everything . . . even His expectations! Get it?” He got it.

Mentors benefit from evaluated experience, having the maturity of having lived a season or two longer than our mentees. Maturity helps us to see things from the longer term. It helps us see relationships on the other side of transactions. And when we use our maturity to help our guys interpret situations through a Biblical worldview, we’re “ministers” of Godly wisdom and peace.

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