Joshua and Moses…
Samuel and Eli…
The Disciples and Jesus…
Mentoring has been part of Christianity since the beginning. As people created to serve both God and one another, mentoring is a form of service. Sharing with the next generation the wisdom of the older, while at the same time, guiding them to follow what is right in their time.
In the technology areas, mentoring has played a large role in the lives of many. There is an art to using technology for worship. We learn that art and pass it on through mentoring. A guiding hand, a helpful suggestion, even a reproach, all are ways that someone passes on their experience to someone who wants to learn.
While many things can be learned in the classroom, these “soft skills” are the ones that must be honed in the work environment. So many people look at what technicians do and think, “I can push a button, what makes that so special?” But someone who knows how to time the lighting, when to adjust the mic levels, or how to time a video or even song text, those are arts that enhance worship. People don’t notice the work because they are getting the intended effect of adding meaning to the worship experience. But they DO notice when it isn’t as good or is just plain wrong.
At USITT, we have six mentoring programs that pair young people with established professionals to make sure the brightest prospects are getting the added benefit of years of professional wisdom to go along with their knowledge. We pair stage managers, technicians, safety managers, young business people, and others. Part of that mentoring is also showing students that the career opportunities in these disciplines are probably far more expansive than they realize.
I recently crossed paths with a friend at a trade show. This friend is a lighting and sound designer who now works for a large congregation in the Phoenix, AZ, area. It was great to see him, but what I truly loved is that he had one of his young congregation members with him. My friend had brought the young person to the trade show to help him learn and network, showing him the possibilities for work within lighting and sound. That is mentoring.
USITT is a non-profit organization dedicated to design and technology. While Theatre is in our name, it describes the technology, not the workplace. Effective design and technology using “theatre” equipment is in place all around us; museums, architecture, entertainment, and yes, houses of worship. It is best used when it magnifies the experience of the attendee, and that is a skill that is truly best learned through a mentor.
If you know a young person, I encourage you to think of yourself as a mentor. Help them learn those skills you learned “on the job.” If they are interested in careers in design and technology, please take a look at the mentoring opportunities available at www.usitt.org/mentoring. We are an organization that realizes your best work is what each of us has to give as a gift.