How to Bridge Generations

February 15, 2013



….the fluctuating feelings of a soul in a given month or day, at least my soul. I can’t keep up- barely anyone can. But I’ve learned that a few people need to know. I need to be known and I need to know and I need kicks in my hiney when I’m out of line and I need a safe place to be imperfect and I need to laugh and eat too many french fries and forget that I’m afraid and then remember I’m afraid and have someone tell me to stop being afraid.

We all do.

And I have my share of great friends that do every one of those things. But sometimes ever so sparse gray hair has it’s place in life. I keep a friend, always at least one that I call mentor. Each of them has been unique, nothing has ever been very formal, but I have intentionally sought them out for coffee or french fries and asked them things like….

 Am I doing enough?

Am I doing too much?

How do you submit to your husband when you disagree?

How do I balance ministry and 4 kids?

What are you making for dinner?

I have to have this. I have to have it. And whether you know it or not- you do too.

Meet Diann Cotton. Diann and Larry (her husband) grab pizza with us- because they can and because we ask. Zac disciples their grown twin boys (who are quite famous) and those two boys invest into our son and given their unique profession- even as a brilliant 7th grader, he listens to every word they say. It is the most inbred beautiful mentoring relationships of all time.


We adore the Cotton’s and they tolerate us! :)


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So you may be feeling a twinge of jealousy reading this with my french fries and cool awesome wise people in our lives… good. Feel jealous and then call a woman 15-20 years older than you this minute and ask her to coffee.

My very strict and important rules of mentoring
(I have none by the way but here are my thoughts)

1. Don’t be so picky. No mentor is perfect. If they have lived longer- they have things to add to your life.

2. Gain different things from different people. Keep several relationships that can invest in your life in different ways- no one mentor will be the end all to all needs and subjects.

3. Keep it informal. We don’t meet every week- we meet every time we can- usually spontaneously. High commitment can wear out the relationship.

4. Don’t be arrogant. Realize we need the generation above us and accept that we may have different values. Instead of looking down on that, let it intrigue you and uncover the source of unshared values.

5. Take initiative. I don’t think one woman has ever asked to mentor me. You seek them out and if there is no traction- seek someone else out.

But make this a priority and here’s why- we need people who have perspective that is bigger than our own. We need to be reminded that the mundane jobs are building our character. We need to be reminded that our husbands usually have a point. We need people that inspire us and believe in us, but not so much so that they won’t beat us up if we get arrogant or out of line.

Now. Go. Pick up the phone and call the first woman that comes to mind. We want to bridge the generational gap… let’s start with coffee.

Tell us about your mentor or why you don’t have one?

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18 Responses to “How to Bridge Generations”

  1. Kim Hardy

    This brought a smile to my face, because without realizing what I was doing I reached out to an older lady who was leading a Bible study and she has become a mentor to me. I asked her for a coffee date…and she was surprised. Anyway, she doesn’t like me to call her a mentor, but that’s how I view her. Thanks for the tips.

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  3. Jennie, this was perfectly timed in my life. We stepped into our first Sunday School class as the youngest couple in the room. Thankfully we had a couple come along side us and mentor us, without us at first realizing what was going on!
    Fast forward almost 20 years and we are now ‘that’ couple. We now have the privilege of walking life out with a couple that asks the same questions we asked and a house full of toddlers!
    My mentor still mentors me! Thankful that she can speak truth into my life, set me back on my feet and send me out with an encouraging word!

    Thank you!

  4. i love this! I literally was talking to my husband about mentors when I read this! I have had some pretty amazing spiritual mentors in my life (starting from when we lived in austin!) and it’s fun to think about all the people that can pour into us. and i LOVE the cotton fam! I went to africa w/ cory and coby on the man up trip and we are still working with them on that fight! :) we do have a lot of friends in common sweet Jennie. hope to meet you in “real life” next time i’m in town!

  5. Marcy Boutz

    My older mentors have poured into my life for years and years, one is 93! Now I have become the one pouring out, funny how that happens!
    I am leading Stuck for the second time and Chase for the first time and these girls are amazing, I am learning so much form them and God is at work, Praise Him!
    Love the pics and story of the Cottons! I work at K2 in the summers and love those young men!