Posts Tagged ‘mentor’


Parenting is daily steps that take you on a journey and leads your children in the way that they should go.  After a little while, your children will learn the directions and begin to see the destination.  Problems arises when parents take steps that are contrary to the direction that they are “telling” their children to go in.  When the parents walk does not align with their verbal instructions, it confuses the child(ren). The first couple times,  they may still do what you tell them.  Eventually, they will chose their own path, or begin to do what you do, thus abandoning the way you intended to lead them.

Parenting is intentional. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

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Are you a “real” man? or are you a women trying to identify one?  Who really knows the true definition of a real man?  I have Googled it, asked friends (men and women), looked at social media post (bad idea) and I have gotten so man different answers.  “Real men cook!” “Real men take care of their kids!” “Real Men have a job!” “Real Men don’t hit ladies!”  All good points, but what if I’m not hungry or don’t have kids (yet) or looking for a job (in school), or she ran toward me with a knife (cause some are crazy…ok, still no excuse), am I not a Real Man?  I’m being funny, but most answers were a reflection of the voids of men in their past or present, but in my opinion too specific to disqualify him from who he was created to be.  

There is a difference between being a male and a man.  A “man” is a state of being that has a very broad classification and difficult to be disqualified by not having just one.  I believe that there are foundational traits of a “real” man that causes him to act and respond in a certain way no matter the environment or circumstance.  Real men have the responsibility to be the priest, providers, and protectors of their household and of all who are in it (even if it is only him).

Priest:  Not a priest in the literal since, but understanding that all things are not tangible.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not…or believer or not, know that it is real.  I do not mean to get too deep, but men must understanding that we wrestle with spiritual things and darkness in this world.  Real Men must pray against this, because it does not matter how many push-ups you do, that will never make you strong enough to protect your family against the ways of this threat.

Provider: Some men stop at providing the tangible, basic things for survival (shelter, food, clothing, money, etc), but men have a responsibility to ensure everyone in their household is provided with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, support, comfort, (you add more), including to himself.  Many of the developmental side effects that kids have as adults is because fathers (and mothers) did not adequately provide the intangibles needed for growth.

Protector: Many men pride themselves on being prepared to protect their families (or themselves) from an ever present threat of danger lurking in nights and dark alleys.  However, they fail to be watchmen and gatekeepers of the other ones sneaking in through the friends that their kids (and wife’s) hang around, the T.V. shows they watch and the sites they search on the web.  Being a protector is about guarding against dangers seen and unseen.  Again, this includes guarding what enters his own body through his eyes and ears. 

Real men know who they were created to be, otherwise, life is only a guess.

This is only my opinion, but I read a blog from a friend that talked about the same topic.  Often times we redefine or mistreat a thing because we do not take the time to understand what the creator of that thing designed it to do or be.

FINALLY AN ANSWER…WHAT IS A REAL MAN?!?!?  Please take the time to read the below post. It provides great perspective on  

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What God Expects of Men (http://ellword.com)

The other night, my wife was watching The Wendy Williams Show and I overheard something that really caught my attention.  (Please note: I wasn’t watching the show, MY WIFE was watching!)   Iyanla Vanzant was a guest on the show and she was commenting on her show on the Oprah Network (which my wife watches sometimes while I’m in the room) called Fix My Life (or something like that).  Anyway, former NFL star Terrell Owens had been on Iyanla’s show and apparently she was trying to fix his life.  When Wendy asked what she thought was T.O.’s problem, Iyanla offered that, though T.O. had mastered the game of football, he had not mastered the art of “being a man.”  That last part reminded me that often women have opinions about the definition of a man or the question, what constitutes a real man?

This is a popular subject on social media and blogs and other platforms where people espouse their views on current issues. I’ve participated in a few of these verbal/written forums myself.  And more often than not, people speak from their own experiences and needs.  So I thought about it, and reasoned that the only way to come close to settling the question is to hear from an expert.  Of course it’s convenient to eliminate all women from this category – how can a woman be an expert on something she’s never been.  But finding a man who can really be considered an expert is tricky.  What exactly would make him an expert that can’t be said about many other men?  And how did he become an expert?  Well there’s only one way to settle this question – refer to the creator.  Because man was created by God, it only makes sense to consider God the expert on man.  He made us for a purpose – a purpose He expects us to fulfill.  So what are His expectations? 

Without being overly broad, or overly deep, I’d like you to consider 2 things that can be gleaned from the opening chapters of the Bible that implies what God expects from men.  First, God expects men to spread and cultivate His influence throughout the earth.  In Genesis 2, the Bible explains in detail God’s interaction with Adam.  Although in Genesis 1 it appears that God created plants and trees (Day 3) prior to the creation of man (Day 6), Genesis 2:5 says that the shrubs and trees had not “sprung up” yet because there was no man to cultivate the ground.  Then God makes Adam and places him in a garden “East, in Eden”.  So God placed him in a limited place on the earth and instructs him to make it grow (cultivate it) so that it  covers the earth.  My point is this.  We understand that God has placed man in the role of leaders (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3, etc.), but I think that often men miss that our position is less about leadership and more about stewardship.  We have been entrusted with the earth and all that is in it (including woman) for the purpose of making it all GROW.   As illustrated by the parable of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of making everything around us grow and get better.  We are supposed to cultivate. 

The other thing we are supposed to do is communicate God’s will.  In Genesis 2 it is clear that God gave instructions to Adam before Eve was even formed.  So once she is presented to him, He becomes responsible for communicating to her and their expected offspring what God has already told him.  This is also apparent from Paul’s use of the relationship between Christ and the church to explain man’s responsibility to his wife in Ephesians chapter 5. He essentially says that Christ cleanses the church with the word so that he will present her to himself without blemishes.  So men are to use the Word to help his wife grow into a wife without blemish.  Man has the responsibility to communicate the Word from God.  Man has the responsibility of explaining what God expects from all of us, and how this world that God created works.  Remember, Adam named everything before Eve was formed.  So men have the responsibility to point out to those who’ve been entrusted to us what the other things are.  As our children navigate through the world, we must guide them, pointing out the dangers, and giving them insight into whats “out there”.  

Of course, men can only do this well when we stay connected to God, the creator, and hear His Word.  We can only be effective to the degree that we understand what God has said and how His world works.  And we can only do this if we stay connected to those who’ve been entrusted to us, so that we can communicate these truths to them.  This, I firmly believe, is what God expects from men.  And I sincerely believe that when we do this consistently, everything and everyone around us will grow and get better – including us.

The blog can be found at  http://ellword.com


The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up”

Great Lesson for me today. I always hurry my little guy instead of appreciating the time we have. In a few years, I will be asking where did the time go, but if I would have just slowed down enough to appreciate more, I just might have reclaimed a few minutes. Thanks Rachel!


This is the fundamental reason why I started writing this blog. Do we (Society) really understand the difference between a role model and a mentor. Webster.com defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others”. A mentor is described as “a trusted counselor or guide.” We should not confuse the two. They are distinct and very different, but could be one in the same.

In my opinion, celebrities / athletes can be viewed as role models, but as parents we should not blur the lines to confuse them with being a mentor to our children. I kinda spoke of this in a couple blogs in the past, but in the wake of the A Rod-on-every-channel-saga, I felt compelled to vent again.

I have heard people and news reporters say, “what about the children” and rightfully so. However, my hope is that the parent(s) would stand up and be the “mentor” who will counsel and guide their children to understand that if all that is alleged is true, that he may not be a person whose behavior in a particular role we should imitate (role model).”

I am not naive. I do understand that not all children can differentiate between roles and characteristics of a person…and as they study their role, negative seeds from their character has the potential to seep out and invade their hearts, minds, and spirits of the youth. I get it!

Growing up, Michael Jordan was my role model. I watched and studied how he played basketball, but I knew nothing about him as a person. Because I did not know him or trust him, he could not be considered my mentor, who would guide and counsel me. I remember my mother talking to me about how he appeared to be “arrogant” and that is not something that she liked about him. “Thanks for sharing,” but I did not care about who he was off the court. I was interested in how he turned and dunked on Patrick Ewing along the baseline. I did run around singing “Like Mike…if I could be like Mike” (wanna be…wanna be like Miiiikkkkeee…Sorry, got lost for a sec). However, for me, it was with a basketball in hand.

This further proves my point. Corporations blur the lines by using celebrities in “real life” situations to help sell their products. Endorsement deals take celebrities and athletes out of their “role” and humanize them. With the addition of social media, we have 24 / 7 access to the people that we historically called role models. Now we know where they are, what they think, what they eat, who they hang out with, where they shop, where they took their kids, need I go on. But, we still do not “know” them. In the same way we would not read a book about a person and feel like we know them enough to marry them, we can not allow our children to “follow” people who we can not confirm if they have the same morals, values, beliefs, and judgements that we do. They may have made a decision that appears to be in alignment with what we believe, but we do not understand the context or why they came to that conclusion, which matters.

Sorry, I ramble. I am not saying that the Lance Armstrong’s, Tiger Woods, and A-Rods (to name a few) of the world are right, but I am saying we (parents and media) unfairly crucify and condemn them because we place unrealistic expectations on them to be the mentors of our youth. News flash, we are not perfect, either. If a camera followed us around 24 / 7 what would be exposed about who we are and what we did? Again, I think that “they” must be held accountable, just not cast out because of a mistake they made and for being in a position that we placed them in. I know, i know! To who much is given, much is required. Grace.

Bottom line…the original “mentors” are the parents. Our role is to guide and counsel our children. It is great if we can also be their role model. If not, we should find a suitable role model for them and not allow them to default to who the world highlights as a poster child in a particular role. Once we find a person, explain (counsel) why we selected that person(s), and constantly monitor so if they ever exhibit behaviors contrary, we will know it is time to find another role model (guide).

I am theoriginalmentor and so are you. Declare It. “I am The Original Mentor!”


“You defend the system that trains you.” is a quote from Pastor Smokie Norful. What is a system? A system is a series of events or processes that work together to get a desired result. Systems can be, but are not always positive. For example, an abusers sets up a system to isolate the victim (process #1), lower their self-esteem (process #2), give them a false sense of what true love is (process #3), until they get that person to believe that this is not only the best way of life, but the ONLY way. In many cases, the victim will choose to stay in that situation even though it is harmful to them. The victim may even begin to defend the abuser, because they have begun to believe that “He/She loves me!”

Just like a person who is in an abusive relationship will defend the abuser and say that they “love” me, a child that has grown up in “dysfunction” will defend the system and lifestyle that they were raised by, because that is all they know. To change their lifestyle (system) is to turn their back on or to disrespect the way of life that had gotten them to where they are. Wait? Are you striving to go further, achieve more, “be better?” “So you think you better than me now?” It is not that they think that they “are” better, it is simply that they desire more. I grew up in this environment as well. I was the first in my family to go and graduate from college and some of my family actually fought my mother, because they thought that I thought I was “better”. Not True! This mentality has caused many kids with amazing potential to never realize it because their life is filled with “haters” who do not want to see them do more and thrive instead of just surviving.

When I first heard the term “hater” I was so happy, because I thought, “This is progress!” It is the realization that if someone does not want you to accomplish more, then THEY are the one who is wrong, not the one who is trying to achieve. It is inspiring to see that some people would like to rise above their current state, that has become normal, and thrive beyond the limitations of the enviornments that they are currently exposed to. It is the desire and determination of those individual(s) to obtain more, that has become the seeds of hope for other family members, friends, and generations to come. If they can do it, so can I…Haters!!!

It takes a person who has broken the barriers of lack to realize that dysfunction had become their normal. Once you discover a new system, it is important to share it with those who may still be lost or blind to the fact that they can have more…not just stuff, but more peace, love, joy. They can take the responsibility of spending much time with others who suffer from that same false reality of “this is all we will ever have or be” to carefully fertilize, till, and replant seeds that will produce life and create a new normal that can harvest into a life filed with love, joy, peace, happiness, abundance, and so much more.

So…I ask, what type of seeds are you planting in your children? Guilt, regret, shame, hate, envy, hurt? What system(s) did you grow up in that you are now recreating or “planting” in your children because that is all that you know? Just because it was done to you, does not make it right…even if it worked! Just because you had the resiliency to bounce back does not mean that your child(ren) will have that same bounce back power!? We have to really explore the reasons why we value what we value, why we think the way we think, and why we do we what we do, before passing it along to our children. The systems that we build to raise our children, may need to be adjusted to fit who they are and who they are supposed to become.

Sometimes parenting has nothing to do with the child, but everything to do with you! It is amazing to me that we get trained and prepare for a vocation, but will not do the same introspection when it comes to being prepared to fulfill our purpose as parents. When God entrusted us with a miracle (baby) we now hold purpose in our hands. Our role is to create the right environment and plant seeds of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control so that they can reach their full potential. It requires us to get out of their way and to not plant weeds that are limiting or that push them in a direction that we think is right. Is it the right way? Maybe? Are you sure? If so, good.

Again I ask, what type of seeds are you planting? You can not plant what you don’t have. Maybe it is time that we rethink our systems to ensure that the processes (lifestyle) is working together to get the desired positive result. If you don’t plant seed in the right soil (environment), water it (nurture), give it the proper sun (oversight), the seed will never grow to its greatest potential.


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My first job out of college was as an intake worker in foster care. Great experience, however, at the ripe age of 21, it shaped my perspective on parenthood. That experience is for another day (soon…I promise).

As an intake worker, I had to build the case files for case managers. In the process, I had to enter the social security numbers of the parents and their children. Back then, I was amazed at the fact that after entering the numbers, they seemed to be forever etched into my mind. The same was for my family and friends phone numbers…I just remembered them. Not long ago, someone asked me for my wife’s phone number and I could not tell them without looking into my phone. What happen???

I trace it all back to technology (Cell Phones, Computers, etc.). I did not have a need to “clutter” my mind with senseless information that I could easily access. At least I thought. Now I realize that it was more than knowing, it was exercising a side of my brain that I must not readily use now. We do not have to “think” any more. We just need to read or access a resource that contains the information we need. Some may argue, “what’s wrong with that?” My reply, “nothing, as long as you “always” have access to that “thing” that you depend on.

Let me get to the point…I believe problem solving is the single greatest attribute that a parent can teach their child (next to fearing God). My mother was a problem solver. She was a teen mom and embodied the principle of “where there is a will there is a way.” We did not always have, but we never lacked what we needed. I watched her “figure life out” sometime out of nothing. She did not have the luxury of running to the store to get what was needed for dinner. She pieced this with that and I was full and well nourished. This quality, problem solving, has been lost. I am witnessing an up and coming generation who are sometimes paralyzed when all of the pieces do not fall in place.

My parental peers appear to be too concerned with making sure that their kids have everything that they did not have (#Stuff), that they are forgetting to pass along the characteristics that got them to this point.

This evolution of parenting has created a generation of 20 somethings who are waiting at the bus stops of opportunity wondering when their ride will come, instead of doing what is necessary to prepare or create an opportunity for themselves.

This evolution of parenting has created a generation of 20 somethings who are waiting at the bus stops of opportunity wondering when their ride will come, instead of doing what is necessary to prepare or create an opportunity for themselves. To reverse this trend, parents, we have to act now by allowing our children to suffer, go without, and earn their keep. We had to work to get everything, now we give them everything and they do not have to work.

Problem solving is having the ability to identify that there is actually a problem. Some of them do not even realize that they are lost and losing!!! I know it is tempting to jump in quick when we see that our children are on a path to destruction. I agree. I will be tempted to do the same thing. That is what a parent is supposed to do. What I am asking is that you include them in the process. If you resolved it and they never understand that they were in danger, the possible consequences of their actions, the steps you took to resolve it, why you took those steps, and how to actually resolved it…how do you expect them to resolve it in the future.

Please teach your kids how to problem solve while they are young, if not, they will expect you to solve their problems when they are old.

Steps of Problem Solving

  1. Identify the Problem: Your child must have a morale compass of what is right or wrong (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord). At the tender age of 8, my son knows the 10 commandments and holds us all accountable for breaking any one of them. He also respects authority. Authority is not always a person in leadership. For example, one day we were out shopping and we were about to walk into a store. He stopped outside and we walked it. I turned around and he was outside the store. I went out and told him to come in, but he was eating a bag of chips. He said, “daddy, the sign says no food or drinks in the store, so I had to finish before I came in.”
  2. Think it Through: Do not be so quick to solve their problems, no matter how small. Ask them questions and wait on the answer. There are times when I ask a question and it may take him 5 mins to respond, but I do not let him off the hook. “I do not know” is not an acceptable answer in my household. You have a brain, use it!!! I have a couple questions that I often ask when he does not know what to say; 1) What would you do if you did know (this is a good one when they try to sneak that infamous question in “IDK)? 2) What do you think should happen? 3) What would you like to happen? Then just wait. I will sometimes say, “Still waiting…?” Be patient, eventually the wait time will get shorter if they know you will not give in. If they get stuck, brainstorm with them by providing suggestions (but not right away). Eventually, they will come up with ideas on their own.
  3. Consider the consequences: As a kid, this is what kept me out of trouble. I loved my privileges. Anything that I did that was going too take them away, I avoided (or prayed I would not get caught…LOL). I was no angel, but I always thought “If this, then that”….If I do this, that could happen. When they present a solution, throw a “What If?” back at them. The “What if” is the possible consequence to their solution. Then let them decide if they want to take the chance. Continue this until they make a final decision. Remember…all consequences are not bad.
  4. Walk along side them: After they make a decision, support them in it. As adults, we know that sometimes we have great intentions, but our delivery or how we do something spoils it all. Help them understand the importance of doing things decently and in order so that it does not make matters worse. You may have to model it for them and have them watch you a couple times , while you explain “why” you did what you did. Then, they can do it and you watch, continue to provide coaching along the way. Eventually, they will be able to do it on their own.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe problem solving is the single greatest attribute that a parent can teach their child. You will not always be around to guide them. However, they should be able to remember how you modeled the way. Parents are also battling a society that has evolved into a at-your-finger-tips-you-do-not-have-to-think-or-use-your-brain society. My wife witnessed kids at the community center that because of cell phones and tablets do not know how to tell time on a analog clock.

Subtle, but I think we must pay attention and adjust or our children could be walking around life lost with a map that they can’t read, because their GPS ran out of batteries and their phone died asking us…”wht time u say dat bus comin?”


Hardwork

As a mentor, it requires you to interact with the parents of the young people whose life you have been given charge to lead and direct. I would spend time talking to their parents to gain perspective and insight on the lessons and angles to take to be relevant, which is one of the only ways to make a connection. By default, a relationship formed between myself and some of the parents. They are entrusting me with their most precious gift, a life that God has blessed them to raise. Some days, I could see the defeat in their eyes. They hope that I would have “the” answer to why their teen was acting that way. “I give them everything! Why are they talking to me like that?” The pain was too much for some of them to take. Tears would often streamed down their faces and drip on the paper as they unfolded the report card so that I could take a look.

The vulnerability and feeling of inadequacy that can come when raising a child, especially a teen, can become unbearable. Even though I did not know many of them personally, in one conversation, exactly who they are and who they wanted their children to become would be crystal clear. They would articulate their optimisms and passion for their children to do much better than they had, but did not understand why the life of their child was starting to mirror their years as a teen. #disappointment

They would share some intimate details about who they were as a parent (or who they were not); things that they have tried, demands that was outlined, discipline that was laid down. The level of intimacy from the parent was not always intentional. I had another perspective that came from building a relationship with their child. Hearing the other side, I could sometimes put two and two together (but it did not always equal 4). Go figure.

Then…I had a LIGHT BULB MOMENT. It is amazing the things that you can find out when you hear the same story told from 2 people who do not realize that you will gain another point of view. Time and time again, parent after parent, mentee after mentee, year after year, I realized something that greatly impacts how I parent and even live life today. You may think that this is elementary and even a given, but what I figured out is that just like every other principle, it only works when applied.

I was watching a movie called Love & Basketball (great movie I might add) and there was a scene of the movie where the son was upset with his father for cheating on his mom. The son asks the father a question that pierced the depths of my soul, ”Why couldn’t you be the man that you have always try to make me?” (((Whoa!))) As I sat in silence…thinking that is a statement that I NEVER want to hear from my son or daughter. There is nothing that father could say to that? Really…how are you supposed to respond? I had to watch the movie again to see what happened after that, because I think I blacked out thinking about how powerful that statement was. I guess thinking back I realize just how early I have had a passion for parenting.

One day, years later…it happened again. I was talking to a group of youth and one of them asked me a question that solidified it for me. After one of my “talks” (I have been accused on blending in a life lesson into everything I do and say), a youth looked me straight into my eyes, almost with tears and asked, “you are holding me accountable for the things say and do, but who is holding my parents accountable? What I am supposed to do if you are telling me not to do something but my parents are doing it? I’m trying, but what am I supposed to do?” ((((Double Whoa!!!)))

I mean…WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT!!!!!!!! This is a moment when you just wish you could shrink as small as possible or just run. I can’t tell them not to listen to their parents, but wrong is wrong…Right?

Ok, here it is, parents! I warned you, it may seem like a given, but I realized that as parents:

The Greatest Lessons Are Not Always Taught, But Lived. The lessons that parents are trying to teach their child(ren) are not always the lesson that is being lived. Therefore, we must realize that kids are watching us far more than they are listening.

I love my mother and I think that she did a great job in raising me and helping me to become the person, man, parent that I am today. However, I thought she coined a phrase that I later found out was a statement that was a parents excuse to do whatever they wanted. “Do what a say, not as I do.” Hello!!! That does not work…well it might when I am standing in front of you, but me seeing you do it makes your words sound like the adults from Charlie Brown…Whomp, WhomP, wHoMP, wwwhoommmpp.

So, now I felt it burning inside, so I decided to do a little experiment. I asked my mother, what was the greatest lesson that you tried to teach me going up? Because I asked her out of the blue, I saw her contemplate it for a second, look up left then right. I saw that she wanted to ask me why I was asking the question, but figured there was not right or wrong way to answer the question. She then replied, “To never tell a lie.” That’s great. Every parent wants their child to be honest!

Well to her surprise, that was NOT the greatest lesson that I had actually learned from my mother. The greatest lesson that I had learned was the value and importance of an education. My mother became pregnant at 16. Therefore, she dropped out of high school to raise me. Years later, when I was almost in middle school, we were sitting at the dinner table and she said, “Baby, I am going back to finish school. How will I be able to tell you to graduate high school if I never did?” She then started taking night classes, in which I attended many of them with her. I was in “day care” as she attended class, but I remember eating the Kraft Mac N Cheese and Goldfish crackers while waiting (what seemed like forever) for her to come back to get me. I still recall taking a picture with my grandfather, with my mother in her cap and gown…she did it!

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a match ladies and gentleman. Her words and deed aligned. She was “intentional” about teaching me a lesson. Being a parent is about communicating the lessons, but also living the lifestyle as well. I recall the day I walked in the door after school and she had an envelope in her hand from Michigan State University. She wanted me to open it. When I read, “Congratulations, we are pleased to announce that you have been accepted…” she hugged me so tightly. She was so proud and happy for me (tears are coming down my eyes right now). I remember thinking that it was no big deal. She had already taught me the value and importance of an education. It was something that was a given in my eyes. After high school comes college.

Later as I reflected, I cannot recall my mother EVER talking to me about college. However, I do recall talking to my guidance counselor about where I may go and she giving me the application to Michigan State and ensuring that I attended the early admissions seminar (I can see her face, but cannot recall her name…thank you). I said all of this to say, Parents, when you are intentional about the lessons and teach your child what they should know, 9 times out of 10, they will respond without you having to take any effort at all.

I continued to test my theory by asking my friends and some of my friend’s parent’s the same questions (separate from one another) and to date, no one has had an answer that has matched. As parents, the lessons that we think we are teaching our kids are not always the lessons that they are picking up on. Actually, some lessons may be ones that you do not want them to learn at all. Remember…the greatest lessons are not taught, but lived. “Do what I say, not as I do” is not an acceptable way of parenting in this day and age. We must be intentional and live the lifestyle that we want to model for our kids.