Having never had a mentor, I have tried to be a mentor to others. I don’t know how much I have helped, but I believe some mentoring is better than none. I also know that too many people are entering professional life, marriage, parenthood and church life without any seasoned guidance.

I think my first employer figured a master’s degree from Columbia was all I needed. Wrong. I had no idea how to do the on-the-ground work of journalism. I struggled.

Same in parish ministry. I enjoyed seminary and grew as a person, but I didn’t receive much guidance there on how to do ministry. Looking back, I had no business going straight from seminary to being a solo vicar. I wish I had served on a staff and made my rookie mistakes with someone to explain. As it was, I learned the hard way.

No do-overs, of course. But it does make me realize that those “of a certain age,” as they say, have an obligation to help folks just starting out. And rookies, in turn, need to be smart enough to accept help. We can’t impose an apprentice system, but we can give and receive the guidance that comes from making mistakes and learning from them.


Q: Do you think Christianity has been taken over by “teavangelicals” in the US?

A: No. Christianity is too big, too diverse, too fragmented to be taken over by any person, group or movement. I read that the Tea Party movement is largely composed of conservative evangelicals who want religion to play a much larger role in government. Polls suggest they are quite out of step with the American public. In any event, they are just one religious expression among many in the US.