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The Importance of Male Mentorship (and How to Find It)

The Importance of Male Mentorship (and How to Find It)

My favorite comedic and outdoor author, Patrick McManus, said this in his book, A Fine and Pleasant Misery: “Every kid should have an old man. … Fathers are alright … but they spend entirely too much time … at work.” While written for humor, the wisdom of this idea has the potential to answer a challenge that we face today: the scarcity of mentorship.

Today, the demanding economy keeps many men busy just trying to put food on the table, sometimes working multiple jobs to do it. Unfortunately, we have also been imbued with the desire for “freedom” in retirement where we pursue our own interests and vacations over focusing on the youth around us. For centuries, families were congregated around each other and made mentorship so much easier! The realities of today leave many young men lacking solutions to this modern challenge.

At the height of Christendom, though, the importance of mentorship and formation of young men was a major focus of the knightly, or chivalric, orders of the time. Young men would become a page, then a damoiseau, then an esquire, and ultimately a knight. A fledgling knight was mentored to learn the tools and traits of manhood (hunting, dance, music, loyalty, hard work, physical strength, and so forth) that they would use after receiving their titles. And if this practice produced the golden age of Christian civilization, it’s worth looking back to for solutions to the problems that plague us today.

So, how can we fix this mentoring famine?

As someone often older than those around me, I’ll start by saying we can start by making ourselves available. Some of the easiest ways to connect with young men are to take up coaching, lead youth groups, or even get online and share our gifts. We need men strong of body, mind, and soul who can give a stark contrast to the materialistic and flamboyant personalities that draw in the young men of today. Presence and time might be the greatest gift we can give to younger men!

For those of us with the desire to mentor, we must also understand our own talents. Many men have so much to give and share—sometimes without anyone to pass their passions on to. It’s our job to find our strengths and be willing to appropriately pass them on to the young men around us.

For searching mentees, it can be helpful to identify the men who show a desirable trait or skill. Here, we must realize that social media is not our friend. Rarely is what we see on a screen a depiction of reality. We may see a well-dressed guy in great shape, surrounded by beautiful women, and exuding a charismatic personality. But that isn’t the whole picture: Every life holds pain, heartache, and wrongdoing. The “perfect” man is selling his vision in the hopes that we fall for it.

Instead, we might look to the quiet man at church, a coach, or veterans for lessons that will truly help. Then—after finding the right mentor—we should remember to think of what we can offer in turn. So often simple interest and inquisitiveness can bring joy and purpose to someone else’s life.

Depending on the age of the mentor and mentee, it may be difficult at times to form a connection. I find it interesting and confounding at times to see how quickly culture and time-bound challenges can change or morph from year to year—much less in a decade! This can lead to confusion or difficulty in finding commonalities.

However, there are two activities that have withstood the passage of time. First is fishing. I’m not talking about fast-paced fishing. I’m talking about baiting your hook with whatever is handy and tossing it out. The object of this type of fishing is not so much catching anything (though this is always a bonus!) but rather the time and availability of two people. In simple fishing we learn patience, the value of silence, and the value of nature.

Beyond this, some of the best conversations I’ve had with other men happened while fishing. We’d sit there in silence at times, while at other moments, something simple would spark a calm discussion. Some of these were with my dad, others with uncles, and still others with older men whom I considered friends. The benefits are enormous!

The second bonding activity is a game of chess. While not as popular today, it again forces availability, calmness, and the potential for real conversations. It has the byproduct of teaching strategy, problem solving, thinking ahead, and making tough decisions, but the main benefit is the time and focus.

All of us, regardless of age, have something to offer the men younger than us. Our offering might be a skill, a passion, or an idea. Even the most “broken” of men have something of worth to share! Sometimes a young man needs that story of redemption, or even of the journey toward redemption, to inspire him to also take the step. Even when mentors don’t have all the answers, being honest about limitations can inspire others.

As men of all ages, let’s make a point of making ourselves more available both to mentor and to receive mentorship—for the betterment of all!

Image credit: Pexels

Nate Rudquist
Nate Rudquist

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  • Avatar
    Cadence McManimon
    April 22, 2024, 11:55 am

    Well written! Genuine fraternity is essential to developing strong masculinity and saving our culture.

    • Avatar
      Bruce@Cadence McManimon
      April 22, 2024, 4:54 pm

      Wonderful article amazingly accurate point about fishing! Spot on!
      However living in the restrictive state of New York it's very difficult to mentor- especially teach Americas youth.
      I did a short stint in public schools and could not take the crazy union wokeness. I am the guy semi retired time on my hands former Boy Scout troop leader, board of directors local church, degree in history looking for ways to be able to help Americas youth… other than donating money I'm not having any luck.

      • Avatar
        April 28, 2024, 3:33 pm

        I appreciate you taking the time to read the article! My Dad was a teacher for many years, so I have heard the horror stories. It's really sad. Your willingness to help will hopefully lead to more opportunities, though it sounds like you are already doing a lot! Have you considered maybe doing something with social media?

    • Avatar
      Nate@Cadence McManimon
      April 28, 2024, 3:27 pm

      Thank you!


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