Wisdom Wednesdays: A Mentor? Who, me?

by Bethany Krepela

Johannes von Staupitz.  Elijah Mays.  Robert Friedland.  Mrs. Duncan.

These names might not mean much to you.  How about Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey?

The first list of names is of those who mentored the second.

Bethany KrepelaALDE currently has 50 matched mentor pairs, with six members having applied for mentorships but still awaiting mentors.  Could YOU be the match they are waiting for?  It’s not just the mentee who grows from the mentoring partnership.  When you mentor someone, you learn more about yourself, your profession and why you do what you do.  It really helps you consider and discover what works and what doesn’t.

When you hear about being a mentor, this may be what you think of yourself:

  • I am not experienced enough.
  • I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Who would want to learn from me?
  • I don’t have enough time. I hardly can get through my own to-do list.
  • I’ve never mentored anyone before. I don’t know if I would have anything of value to offer.
  • Insert your own excuse here.

Let’s consider the original list.

Johannes von Staupitz was the head of the monastery where Martin Luther was enrolled. He encouraged the young monk to pursue a doctorate in theology rather than becoming a priest after he fumbled through his first mass.  He told Luther to not rely on his own efforts or works, but to trust in the goodness and mercy of God.

Benjamin Elijah Mays was the child of former slaves who, despite having a father who didn’t believe in education, eventually became president of Morehouse College, where he met the 15-year old freshman King. Under his influence, King’s pursuit of a career in law or medicine changed to ministry, and Mays became his spiritual advisor.

Our next mentor, Robert Friedland was a drug dealer turned billionaire mining mogul.  Steve Jobs met the young parolee at Reed College.  They became fast friends, and Friedland is described as teaching Jobs “a lot about selling, about coming out of his shell, of opening up and taking charge of a situation.”

Finally, Mrs. Duncan was Oprah Winfrey’s fourth grade teacher who took time with Oprah outside of school, instilling confidence in her and teaching her a foundational truth for her life — to not be afraid to be smart.

Anyone can be a mentor.  Even you.  If von Staupitz, Mays, Friedland or Duncan waited until they were experienced enough, had met all their own goals or had enough time, who knows if their protégés would have become the icons and influencers they did?

The ALDE Mentoring Program was formed to advance newcomers in our profession.  At the same time, ALDE mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial.  Be prepared to be blessed by the experience.

Read more about the benefits of mentoring and ALDE’s guidelines, and apply to be a mentor on this page.  If you’re on the other side, and are interested in being mentored, we always encourage you to apply.  Who, me? Yes, YOU!

Bethany Krepela is a Leadership Giving Officer for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and is based in Minneapolis, Minn.


Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.

“Johann von Staupitz.” March 4, 2012. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 27, 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Johann_von_Staupitz&oldid=480231064>.

“Martin Luther King Jr..” 2012. The History Channel website. Retrieved May 27, 2012. <ttp://www.history.com/topics/martin-luther-king-jr>.

“Who Mentored Oprah Winfrey.” 2012. Harvard School of Public Health website. Retrieved May 27, 2012. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy/Celebrities/oprah_winfrey.html>.


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