The Value of Great Mentors

In chapter five of The Ministry of business, we make vary salient points regarding the value of great mentors, and a guide to obtaining them, utilizing them to mutual benefit, and how they can change your life. You will note that in the acknowledgements of the book, I noted “Thanks also to Layne Dearden, creative writing professor extraordinaire, for inspiring the confidence to write.” What you don’t know, is how he became a great mentor to me.

Layne took an interest in his students. He knew that I was shy and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence; my Rick’s College experience was my first time stepping out of Wyoming. I was like a new calf taking its first steps—sort of wobbly. Layne also knew I was paying my own way in school, and that I could use a few bucks. He probably didn’t need the help, but he took me with him to repair a fence for an elderly widow he befriended. We would talk and repair the fence. His influence upon me was far beyond the classroom. He is such a great man. He has had challenges in his family, such as a sweet daughter that has special needs, and a son who became paralyzed on a family ocean trip in his youth, that have shaped this wonderful man into the example of charity he is. Always thinking of others—-the perfect type of mentor.

I decided to serve a two year mission for my Church and left college to do so. Layne knew that my father was not of the same faith I was, and did something extra ordinary; he wrote me a couple of times on my mission. Somehow they came at just the right time. For example, when I was having a rough time of it, he sent me a letter telling me of a very difficult time he experienced on his mission; and wrote during that time: “My Reasons To Feel Encouraged, When I start To Feel Discouraged”. They were so profound, that I later framed them and gave them to about two hundred young single adults when I was their Bishop.

Just recently, after nearly 35 years apart, Ginger and I had the privilege of taking our retired professor and his lovely wife to dinner. Never idle, he has written a fabulous play, Wheeler, watch for it on Broadway one of these days. During dinner he reminded us of a few writing tips:

●Think before you ink.

●Write to express not to impress.

●The wise revise.

One last example of his kindness. When Rick’s College was going through major renovations and becoming BYU-Idaho, they needed to gut and remodel a famous building on campus, one which he and many colleagues taught in. Lots of emotional history. In the dark of night, he slipped into the building wearing a suit, so not to be suspicious, and took a crow bar out of his jacket. He proceeded to salvage the wood door casings (as they were going to be destroyed). Later at Christmas time, he framed a beautiful picture of the building in the snow with each one, by hand; using the door casing wood he personally salvaged, they became gifts to the forty or so professors who called the old building home for so many years.

In the book, we list several tips for finding and adopting good mentors. One of them says:

“Great mentors receive as much joy in your great successes as they do their own. They will become some of your greatest cheerleaders, so look for mentors who care about you deeply and who demonstrate an abiding attitude of selflessness.”

No one could measure up better to this tip than Layne Dearden. I hope you enjoy the chapter in the book as you also find and adopt the best mentors.


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