Mary Reuter O.S.B., Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota

January 6, 2022

“The psychologist, Robert Wicks, urges us to recognize our responsibility to exercise mentoring, a time-honored process that occurs within our ongoing relationships. Through mentoring, whether it is informal or intentional, we share the wisdom we have gained from our experiences and we seek insights from others. The aim of Wicks’s book is to provide helps by which we can mentor with greater intentionality and information that enhances what we already know. He also outlines characteristics to look for in a mentor when we are seeking one. Near the end of the book, he presents frequently asked questions and his answers: a list that summarizes his mentoring guidelines, and a short annotated bibliography.

Wicks himself serves as a mentor through his book, a modified handbook that gives guiding principles and examples to ground his wisdom in concrete situations. A sampling of what he calls his mentoring lessons includes the following: ‘Offer a receptive listening space where people can tell their stories.’ ‘In every situation help people look carefully for what is within their control.’ ‘After experiencing someone’s strong emotion, take a step back and offer this logical problem-solving approach: ventilation, diagnosis, planning, intervention, and letting go.’ The mentoring lessons, along with a brief discussion of each one, serve Wicks’s intention to help us articulate our own wisdom, more consciously share it with others, and be more open to receive insights from others. His discussion can also help us to mentor ourselves through reflective living and an appreciation of ourselves.

While the book can serve any adult, it might be of particular interest to persons involved in relationships that offer possibilities for mentoring: friends, parents, teachers, people in pastoring roles in parishes and businesses, and participants in Alcoholics Anonymous. In our mentoring service to others, Wicks sees that through this process we can experience one of life’s most rewarding activities: ‘the imparting and receiving of life’s wisdom.’ (17)

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