Most of us have buddies, but most of us don’t have mentors. Further, most of us often confuse our buddies as mentors or we try to be a buddy instead of a mentor! There’s a huge difference. Let me explain.
I don’t need a mentor to be a buddy; I need a mentor to actually mentor me. A buddy doesn’t require accountability, but a mentor does. A buddy is usually a peer, but a mentor is more of a “parent.” A buddy will rarely challenge you about anything, but a mentor won’t let you get away with anything. A buddy can be too concerned with being liked, but a mentor is more concerned with your “being”- guiding you through life situations, that you may not like. A buddy is someone you hang out with, but a mentor is someone you get help from.
Many times too, we opt to be someone’s buddy rather than their mentor because we falsely believe that they need a friend when what they really need is a mentor. This is especially true with young people. Young people have buddies, they have friends- what they really need are mentors. Mentoring a young person, or anyone else for that matter, requires some things that go far beyond merely being someone’s buddy- it requires a profound realization of the impact you will have on someone’s life by virtue of the example you provide! Someone who recognizes they are serving a mentoring role in someone else’s life, especially a young person, doesn’t have the luxury to be casual or treat it on a “buddy” basis. Mentoring is all about being a role model of how to handle life’s challenging situations, to make decisions, to have ambitions, etc. that are determined by a deep sense and conviction of “rightness.”
I’m certainly not suggesting a mentor can’t be or become a friend. But in respect to mentoring relationships there should always be the mutual respect that the “mentor” most likely has the advantages of age, experience, and spiritual maturity.