In Praise of Mentors, by Manuel Figallo, Vestry Member
I have worked for several organizations where "transformation" becomes a central theme, sometimes in a last ditch effort to remain in business. I remember when I worked for a San Francisco software company, the leadership even combined "transformation" with "creation" to form "transcreation" (for those who work in business, it was basically business process reengineering. My leadership was desperate!). Management introduced "transcreation" to us as a means to drum up new business, but within a couple of months, the office shut down. In the final days of the company, a photo of one of the engineers circulated around the office in which he was sprawled out on the ground at the corner of Market Street and The Embarcadero wearing a sandwich board that read "Will transcreate massive shareholder value for food!"
We all have to face change and it seems that as of late the frequency and intensity of change has heightened. Technological, economic, and social forces play a part in this change. When change is fundamental and core to oneself or to one's organization, then we have transformation, and it is hard to do. Sometimes, it's not driven by external forces but by internal ones; that is, the realization and awareness that how we conduct our lives isn't working for us anymore.
I don't think true transformation is possible without the guidance of a mentor. A mentor is someone who is willing to accompany the person experiencing transformation in their life's journey with compassion, grace, and love as they struggle, grow, and find joy during this process.
Through ministries and outreach at Saint George's, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a good mentor. Many folks have modeled it to me through their openness, authenticity, and honesty. It's a topic we've discussed in the men's group and one that we live through Benedictine spirituality in the Community of Hope. I myself have found it particularly through spiritual direction that I've received outside of the parish. It is a traditionally Jesuit practice to help discern and reveal God’s presence in one’s life. Recently, a fellow parishioner revealed to me how Jesus has been a mentor to him, since He models so many behaviors in the gospels that we can aspire to.
Whether you feel overwhelmed by the pace of change or feel lost and not sure where to go next in life, I recommend a good mentor. Thinking back on that engineer, I am certain he wasn't going to find transformation with our management or leadership—he was chastised for that photo even though he explained that he was only trying "to make light of a bad situation." I hope he didn’t lose that sense of humor despite the criticism he received. A good, trustworthy mentor would support him whether or not he had made a mistake. As in imago Dei, He loves you with no exceptions.
Change is constant and inevitable, and I praise those of us who have the courage to ask for help and mentoring, as well as those who heal and bless through the time, attention, and guidance they give others by mentoring.