When having heart-to-hearts with our daughter, Collins, especially while she was in high school, I would often pose a question to her, “Why would you ask your friend’s advice about something that they know no more about than you do?” Often I would try to point out…wise advice comes from someone who has, “yes,” been down the same road….but make sure…there has been enough time (at least a few years) and maturity gained from that road…so that wisdom, along with experience, would be in the picture. I continually took steps to point out that other people’s experience is the best teacher, but she needed to also pay attention to “who” the other people are. Proverbs 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise…”
Also, I tried to encourage her to realize that taking your cues from people who share your season of life is the equivalent to asking for and following the directions of someone who’s never been where you want to go. My mom called it, “the blind leading the blind!” Too often we seek advice from ones whom we consider close friends, those who gladly lend a listening ear.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to give more thought to who we are seeking advice from. I love that our children, who are in their early 20’s, have other adults whom they admire and respect…and can seek wise counsel from. Proverbs 1:5, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Just recently, when Collins and I celebrated her 21st birthday in New York…she made sure to reach out to a mentor, Ainsley Earhardt, who is younger than me but older than Collins. Ainsley is a young married Christian who works in broadcast journalism with Fox and Friends. She has been someone Collins has met with since before heading to UGA…to seek advice on a multitude of things from sororities, to internship suggestions, to creating a resume, to the dynamics of the work place, to friendships and spiritual advice.
It was refreshing to know…that Ainsley….gets REAL with Collins…no masks! Ainsley stressed the importance of being involved in a Bible study no matter where Collins moves after graduation. She shared how important it was, even if she didn’t know anyone, to seek out that fellowship and learning environment. She used her own life as an example. Even though her schedule is hectic and her day starts anywhere from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. and she clocks in crazy hours, she disciplines herself and makes it a priority to attend BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) in New York City.
As I listened to the two of them chat, I was pretty amazed at the time she spent with Collins despite her hectic schedule, learning that when we departed at 5 p.m., her new day would start at 2 a.m.! This mentor, even though she has much notariety…remains humble and unchanged and always seeks to reach back and give back….…to someone like Collins.
Recently I was asked how we know Ainsley. I love to share the answer…church! Ainsley is from South Carolina. Her dad, on many occasions over our children’s lives, has sent handwritten notes and cut out articles about our kids when they happened to be mentioned in the newspaper. The last letter came this summer when Thomas was mentioned in the paper as he headed for the US AM! It was a sincere note of encouragement. Ainsley’s dad is a former coach. It is easy to see where Ainsley learned to step outside of herself and give back to others……..to encourage!
Mentorship is key. To reach back and offer a “HAND” to someone is life giving…..over the last five years Collins has been so blessed to have not only Ainsley, but Sterling Sharpe, Loran Smith at UGA, Vanessa Miller (friend and Mom who lives in Athens), and her discipleship leader, Miss Charlotte. A total of five mentors to invest invaluable time and offer invaluable advice.
The age range of these mentors is 32 to 75. These five people are people who have made themselves available to Collins even though they lead very busy and productive lives. They have set such a wonderful example of always responding…even if it took a day or so…being great listeners….offering MUCH WISDOM…and having ONE-ON-ONE TIME with her. As Collins gets ready to graduate in May, I truly marvel at God’s provision of STRONG people in her life who deeply care about her. This is something money can’t buy and death can’t take away. INVALUABLE!
Everyone has something to offer to someone else. You don’t have to be on television or have some sort of title other than the title of “willingness to invest in others”. I encourage you today…to give back…to make yourself available to those coming behind you…to offer your time, your care, your love, your wisdom…to someone who seeks it. The one thing we all have is time and experience…if we choose to give it…there is NO PRICE TAG. Titus 2:3, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”