June 28, 2017
 
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DR#: 14 Mentoring: An Introduction

Introduction

Mentoring. What a simple word – yet, what a complex and often misunderstood concept.

For some, “mentoring” elicits the image of a wisdom figure, preferably with a long, white or graying beard, speaking eternal truths to a neophyte who copiously copies each and every pearl which flows from the master’s mouth. In a more modern context, such an icon may call to mind a traditional teacher-student relationship. For others, “mentoring” implies a less rigid, but no less formal, structure where one individual, acting as a coach, is artfully and successfully directing a mentee to improve his/her performance in a given area. (Coaching Successfully, Eaton and Johnson, 2001) For still others, “mentoring” is, in many ways, indistinguishable from a parent attempting to raise a child with all the skills and attitudes needed to help the youngster successfully navigate the challenges of life. (Trust Me, Hastings and Potter, 2004) And perhaps for yet others, “mentoring” is seen as the ideal manager building a team and efficiently moving it to accomplish a goal.

While each of these notions and images contain kernels of the truth of mentoring, our view of this complex notion encompasses these ideas and so much more.

The General Chapter of 1988 challenged the Brothers to protect the patrimony of the Institute – the charism of the founder. To complete such a mission requires not merely the transmission of information to others, but more importantly, to provide a formation for others. The information on the history and traditions of the Institute can be taught and learned. A formation into the spiritual, communal and apostolic thrust of Father André Coindre and our community must be caught and embodied. Mentors in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart must have the knowledge, through study and research, to teach the information, but also must have the heart, through prayer and reflection, to “be” a living testament or model of the community’s spirit and have a desire and ability to foster such knowledge and dispositions in others.

Through a reflection on the directed reading, the participant will:

  • gain a better understanding of the essentials of the mentoring process;
  • more clearly see how to become a developer of dynamic change in others;
  • identify the important elements in initiating a mentoring relationship.
Readings
  • Chapter 5: Thick-and-Thin Togetherness, from Trust Me: Developing a Leadership Style People Will Follow, by Wayne Hastings and Ron Potter, pp. 57-71
  • Letter of Father André Coindre to Brother Borgia – May 15, 1823. Taken from André Coindre: Writings and Documents #1 Letters 1821-1826, pp. 80-86
Options for Additional Readings
  • Coaching Successfully, by John Eaton and Roy Johnson
  • Advice to the Brothers, from Life of Father André Coindre pp. 107-111
  • The Everything Coaching and Mentoring Book, by Nicholas Nigro
  • The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, by John C. Maxwell
Suggestions for Journal Reflection

1. “The ultimate message of mentoring is to nurture positive people. We trust in people. We trust in ourselves and focus on helping and teaching.” (Trust Me, Hastings and Potter, pg. 70)
       a. From what you know of him and from what you see in his letters to Brother Borgia, how did Father André Coindre exhibit            these qualities of a good mentor?
       b. What changes do you need to make to be a great mentor?

2. Throughout the course of your life and aside from your current CLP mentor, name someone who has served as a positive mentor for you and someone who has not been as positive a mentor for you? (present CLP mentor excluded)
       a. In light of the essential qualities of a good mentor enumerated by Hastings and Potter in Trust Me, which qualities of                  your “positive” mentoring experience do you believe contributed most to your growth as an individual, personally and/or              professionally? Why?
       b. Which qualities of your “less-than-positive” mentoring experience would you like your protégé not to experience with you             as a mentor? Why?

3. What do you think are the most important qualities for a mentor in Father André Coindre’s educational charism? Why?

4. Choose a person on your staff who you would like to mentor.
       a. What would you do to initiate the mentor-protégé relationship?
       b. What would you be willing to or need to change in your daily schedule to make such a mentoring relationship work?
       c. How could you best help him/her?

Prayer

 Loving God,
Your Son entrusted to Peter, James, John, and the other Apostles, 
as well as to Mary, Martha, and the other women
-- ordinary people --
the proclamation of Your Good News.
I believe that you are calling me to that same ministry
in my time and in my place in the spirit of Father André Coindre.
Help me to make room in my heart
and to find place in my life
that I may learn to sincerely encourage,
to patiently wait, 
to genuinely trust, and 
to risk being vulnerable,
so that I might effectively mentor others as Jesus did.

I ask this in name of Jesus, meek and humble of heart. 

Amen.

Readings

Trust Me: Developing a Leadership Style People Will Follow
By Wayne Hastings and Ron Potter, pp. 57-70

Thick-and-Thin Togetherness

On cable television, almost twenty-four hours a day it seems, you can catch sight of a sheriff and his deputy demonstrating core principles of how to develop another person. Yes, Sheriff Andy and his deputy Barney on The Andy Griffith Show have this mentoring thing going on. In many episodes Andy tried to patiently teach Barney about work, love, and life. Then, invariably, Barney struck out to tackle the problem at the core of Andy's teaching, and messed up royally. In spite of Barney’s bungling, however, Andy always stood by his friend and coworker, exhibiting a bemused yet persistent patience. Andy was always there for Barney. (But we don’t think Barney ever reached the place where he was ready to receive more than one bullet for his gun!)

Although developing your own strengths is important, an equally important task in leadership is maximizing the strengths and potential of the members of your team. If you don’t do this well, you may experience a measure of success, but you will also end up very tired and frustrated that so little is getting done. There’s just too much to do these days. We all need help. Michael Dell is quoted as saying, “One person cannot do anything alone.” He is suggesting that the best leaders nurture highly successful management teams built around complementary skills, shared values, and mentoring.

What image comes to mind when you think of the term mentor? You might picture two people sitting at a table in a restaurant, the older person, his or her head topped with waves of shimmering, gray hair, waxing eloquent while the younger listener is furiously scribbling notes on a legal pad. Although this scene may warm our hearts, it seems just a bit out of sync with the real world.

We would like to offer an alternative image of mentoring: Picture two people sitting across from each other in an office. Obviously, an important project is under discussion. The interaction is animated, intense, and often humorous. These people obviously know each other well. Speech is direct and honest. Mutual respect is readily apparent. Some coaching is occurring, but the protégé is not restrained in sharing some insights on the performance of the mentor as well. This relationship is built on trust.

With this picture in mind, we like to define mentoring as a long-term, mutually supportive and enhancing relationship rather than as a relationship in which a highly advanced human being tutors another who stands a step or two below him or her on the developmental ladder.

Another way to envision the mentoring process is to compare it to parenting. In corporate settings we frequently witness nonexistent or very poor “parenting” skills. Executives and managers often fail to recognize that even the most highly qualified person may have significant blind spots or personal or professional characteristics that are awry or underdeveloped. Rather than understanding the need to mentor appropriately and taking the time to discipline, train, coach, or partner with their employees, weak leaders simply hire people and turn them loose to do their jobs.

The basic definition of mentoring implies that the leader and the protégé want to build something that will last a long time. It suggests sticking together and being patient as the learner and the mentor navigate the learning process.

A successful mentoring experience does require a significant prerequisite: a quality person to mentor. A leader who hopes to succeed in mentoring must first hire great people. Too often, executives devote too little time to the hiring process. No wonder that down the road the mentoring of a poorly qualified employee resembles corrective discipline more than a shared growth experience.

Assuming the right persons are in the right job, a leader must then do everything possible to help those people feel appreciated, supported, empowered, and fully equipped to complete their tasks. In addition, a leader needs to help the other person understand that success is not just “making the numbers” (competency) but includes developing character as well.

A good mentoring experience also requires longevity. The leader and the protégé need to stay at it long enough for the relationship to bear mature fruit.

Some years ago I (Wayne) entered a new career that was absolutely foreign to anything I had ever experienced. Two men, Dan and Bruce, came alongside me and not only taught and encouraged me but held me accountable to my goals and vision – they took me under their wings. The men suggested a weekly meeting where we would each share our problems, concerns, personal failures, and successes. Over time the three of us developed a deep bond of friendship and mutual appreciation. Today, after more than fifteen years, we are separated by geography but still use e-mail and the telephone to stay in touch with one another. We know one another’s deepest desires and hold one another accountable for personal integrity and morals. I trust these men with my life.

I (Ron) have a similar story from the mentor’s point of view: In the late nineties I was talking to the CEO with whom I had been working for about four years. As we were chatting comfortably at the end of a session, he said to me, “Ron, all of the work you do for us around team building, leadership development, and culture improvement is worth every penny you charge us. But your real value for me as a CEO is when we have these little chats, one on one, in these relaxing, comfortable, and trusting moments.”

At that moment I began to realize that the aspect of the business I found most enjoyable – talking openly and honestly with the leaders I worked with – was also the aspect they experienced as most valuable. Since that time a sizable percentage of my consulting business comes from personally coaching and mentoring business leaders.

During these moments of honest interaction, leaders are able to talk with me about personal doubts, concerns over the performance of another individual, and innovative ways to tackle new situations. We can do trial run-throughs of an upcoming presentation, a conference call, or a one-on-one meeting with a boss or colleague. Almost anything that is critical to their performance is open to discussion in this relaxed environment. Even personal situations and career decisions are fair game. The mentoring or coaching role is mainly about creating a safe environment to discuss any topic.

One of the hallmarks of a long-term mentoring relationship is the intentional vulnerability that develops between two people. This means they can easily strip away the outside masks and get down to the issues (both personal and business) that need attention. This kind of openness and willingness to share the truth is a quality found in effective leaders. They refuse to let pride get in the way of open communication that will encourage and assist others and advance the cause of the organization.

If these characteristics of a solid mentoring relationship remind you of a good friendship, you are right. Research data and our experience indicate that, more often than not, mentoring relationships grow over time into lasting friendships. Andy and Barney were “buds” for life.

But if a mentoring relationship is to thrive, men in particular must overcome an issue that many of them struggle with: It’s hard for men to be vulnerable with one another, especially in the work environment. In his book The Friendless American Male, David Smith writes:

Men find it hard to accept that they need the fellowship of other men. The simple request, “Let’s have lunch together” is likely to be followed with the response, “Sure, what's up?” The message is clear: the independent man doesn’t need the company of another man. In fact, the image of the independent man is that he has few if any emotional needs. Therefore, men must manufacture reasons for being together – a business deal must be discussed or a game must be played. Men often use drinking as an excuse to gather together. Rarely do men plan a meeting together simply because they have a need to enjoy each other’s company.

Even when men are frequently together their social interaction begins and remains at the superficial level. Just how long can conversations about politics and sports be nourishing to the human spirit? The same male employees can have lunch together for years and years and still limit their conversation to sports, politics, dirty jokes and comments about the sexual attractiveness of selected female workers in their office or plant. They do not know how to fellowship!

Getting beyond such superficiality takes effort, and at least in the early stages of their relationship, a mentor will have to model appropriate vulnerability to build trust with the protégé. Once the walls start coming down, the process will accelerate and the rewards will be great for both partners. Real issues will be addressed so that genuine personal and organizational growth and change may occur.

What about mentoring involving women? Are their needs and challenges different? Research from Bernice R. Sandier, senior scholar at the Women’s Research and Education Institute, says that “at least one study has shown that male mentors were more likely to direct their female protégées and therefore to be disappointed if they [the protégées] did not follow their advice. The study found, in contrast, that female mentors were more likely to encourage and affirm their protégées’ career choices; they apparently had less emotional investment in having their protégées follow in their footsteps. Also, male mentors may be largely work focused and ignore personal issues that affect those with whom they are working, while women mentors often show interest in both the personal and professional lives of their students.”

Our own experience has revealed that most women prefer a coach from outside their company. While they often would not mind having a male coach, the concerns about sexual overtones and misunderstood motives are often too high to make this a comfortable arrangement. Mentoring the opposite sex (either men mentoring women or women mentoring men) presents challenges, and certainly, if any sexual overtones develop, they need to be confronted and the relationship discontinued.

BECOMING A DEVELOPER OF DYNAMIC CHANGE IN OTHERS

Is there a surefire, can’t-fail approach to mentoring effectively in an organizational setting? Probably not. But that should not come as a surprise because, after all, we are talking about relationships between people. However, we do have some ideas, principles, and goals that will help illumine your path to a satisfying and successful mentoring experience.

1. Be an encourager. Encouragement is one of the mentor’s most powerful tools for leading another person to higher levels of personal growth. The Greek word for encouragement means “coming alongside.” This means helping another person by being right there, offering whatever assistance is required.

All of us need encouragement – a word from somebody who believes in us, stands by us, and reassures us. Encouragement renews our courage, refreshes our spirits, and rekindles our hope. Encouragement goes beyond appreciation to affirmation; we appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is. Affirmation does not insist on a particular level of performance, and it is not earned.

Based on our observation, we do offer one caution related to the issue of encouragement: Many leaders themselves appear to have a low need for personal affirmation and approval and therefore have difficulty understanding the need to encourage and affirm others. If this describes you, you will need to train yourself to give what may feel like over-encouragement to others.

2. Be patient. Mentoring requires a good amount of patience from both parties. The endurance factor is quite important when the person with whom a mentor is working reacts with what might be considered a silly response (in words or actions). It takes patience to watch someone grow and develop into a better person. It takes patience to see missteps and not immediately go in and either change the behavior or solve the problem.

Thomas was the CFO of a large organization, and he took a new hire under his wing. Early on, the new hire, a COO of a smaller division of the same organization, made several mistakes. At issue was the larger organization’s culture, which was unfamiliar to the new hire. He had come from a small company with an achievement-driven culture and little bureaucracy. The new company was full of bureaucratic hoops, and the new hire continued to stumble through the process. The CFO remained patient and diligent. They learned together and solved many of the issues. One of the methods used by the CFO was laughter. He never made the new hire feel inferior or guilty. He simply reflected on the COO's actions, taking them for what they were and using them to create an open dialogue for training and learning.

3. Be trustworthy. As a mentor you must exhibit integrity. The person you are mentoring will be open and vulnerable only after watching you live a consistently ethical life. Trustworthiness means being reliable, faithful, and unfailing. Trustworthy leaders are honest and transparent, committed, dedicated, and keep promises and confidences. They also have the moral courage to do the right thing and to stand up for what they believe even when it is difficult to do so.

4. Be an opportunist. A good mentor is always searching for mentoring opportunities. The best mentoring happens in “teachable moments.” These impromptu opportunities to share insights and experiences require no formal agenda or time schedule, just a willingness on the leader’s part to be available and recognize moments when the other person needs help. This should flow naturally and not be contrived or forced. The protégé may not even realize that a “mentoring moment” has occurred.

Here’s an example of how this might look: One day, Pete, one of the firm’s best telesales reps, was listening to a newly hired rep working with a client. When the rep finished the call, Pete said, “Hey, Lee, it’s a beautiful day outside. Do you want to take a quick break and walk around the block?” Lee quickly got up out of the chair, and they both left the building.

On the walk Pete told Lee what a great job he had done on the previous call. Lee was successfully using most of the sales principles from the company’s training and was building exceptional relationships with his clients. Pete went on to say, “Just one thing, Lee. You might want to slow down a little so you make sure the client completely understands your presentation.”

Lee thanked him for the help and eagerly went back to work. Pete, the best on the team, had just told a fellow team member he was doing well. He had also shared a valuable tip to help Lee’s sales and performance improve. In just a few moments Pete had encouraged, motivated, and trained the new rep! Pete did not need to wait for a formal training session to mentor Lee. He took Lee aside immediately after overhearing a couple of mistakes. He chose a mentoring moment and tremendously helped a coworker achieve a new level of job performance and customer satisfaction.

The opportunity to mentor exists in every setting where people need to draw on one another’s talents to accomplish a goal.

Frank Darabont, director of The Green Mile, reflected on Tom Hanks’s selfless commitment to helping rising actor Michael Duncan achieve his best:

Fifteen, twenty years from now, what will I remember [about filming The Green Mile? There was one thing – and I’ll never forget this: When [Tom] Hanks was playing a scene with Michael Duncan...

As we’re shooting, [the camera] is on Michael first, and I’m realizing that I’m getting distracted by Hanks. Hanks is delivering an Academy Award-winning performance, off-camera, for Michael Duncan – to give him every possible thing he needs or can use to deliver the best possible performance.

He wanted Michael to do so well. He wanted him to look so good. I'll never forget that.

In 1999, Michael Clarke Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. Tom Hanks, however, was not nominated.

STARTING THE PROCESS

Here, then, are some thoughts on how to begin mentoring others:

First, the best mentoring plans focus primarily on character development and then on skills. As Jim Collins reports, “The good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.”

Second, we see many mentoring attempts fail because the participants do not sit down together to discuss and set boundaries and expectations. The process flows much better if the participants take time to understand each other’s goals, needs, and approaches than if they take a laid-back, let’s-get-together approach.

Any mentoring relationship should start with a firm foundation of mutual understanding about goals and expectations. A mentoring plan should be constructed by both individuals, even if it calls for spontaneity in the approach. Nothing is more powerful than motive and heart. Both of the people involved need to fully understand what is driving each of them to want this deeper experience of growth and commitment.

We are currently working with an organization where a senior executive is trying to help a new manager. Incredible as it may seem, the manager was frequently not showing up on time – or at a1l – for scheduled mentoring appointments. We doubt that he fully understood the senior executive’s passion for his personal growth. When they later met to discuss the problem, the senior executive explained why he was willing to get up very early in the morning to help mentor the manager. Once the manager had grasped these basic facts, he started taking the sessions more seriously. Good idea!

Although we strongly endorse the notion of mentoring spontaneously during “teachable moments” –such as when Barney locked himself in the jail cell – ideally we suggest using a combination of scheduled and unscheduled opportunities to learn and grow together.

NEED A MENTOR YOURSELF?

Research has shown that leaders at all levels need mentoring. Even though you may be mentoring others successfully, you need a mentor too. Everything we’ve said in this chapter applies to you. Just put yourself in the protégé’s shoes.

There are two issues that we want you to be especially cognizant of:

1. Vulnerability. You must open yourself up to your mentor by being “woundable,” teachable, and receptive to criticism. The essence of vulnerability is a lack of pride. You cannot be proud and vulnerable at the same time. It takes a focus on humility to be vulnerable.

2. Accountability. Commit yourself wholeheartedly to your mentor (or protégé) and put some teeth in the relationship by establishing goals and expected behavior. Accountability should include:

· “Being willing to explain one's actions.

· Being open, unguarded, and nondefensive about one’s motives.

· Answering for one’s life.

· Supplying the reasons why.”

Like vulnerability, accountability cannot exist alongside pride. Pride must take a backseat to a person’s need to know how she or he is doing and to be held accountable by someone who is trusted. People who are accountable are humble enough to allow people to come close and support them, and, when they drift off course, they welcome the act of restoration without the pride that says, “I don’t need anyone.”

TEAM MENTORING

Is it possible to have a somewhat formalized mentoring program in an organization or for one person to mentor large numbers of people? It depends.

We are not fans of highly structured corporate mentoring programs. In reality, these large, generic approaches are often too loose and impersonal to give the life-changing attention we advocate. Developing others is work, some of the most challenging work any of us will ever do. Leaders must be ready to stick with it through thick and thin. A solid mentoring culture will not exist with just a “pretty face.” Trust takes a huge blow if you promise to mentor people but fail to follow through over the long haul.

So is mentoring even feasible in a flat organization in which a leader may have eleven to fifteen direct-reports? Our advice is to be careful. Your only reasonable hope is to approach the task with a broader focus on “team.”

Bo Schembechler, the great former coach of the University of Michigan football team, was once asked on a radio talk show how he was able to sustain a winning program over so many years when such a large percentage of his best players graduated each year. His response was, “X’s and O’s are fun, but if you want a winning program, you have to get out with your players and build a team.”

Coach Schembechler clearly understood the dynamic and need of mentoring and building a team. His entire mentoring efforts were driven to build teamwork and team execution. He probably felt that his assistant coaches could individually mentor certain players under their care. However, as head coach, Bo Schembechler mentored all of the football players on how to be a successful team. He did it by focusing attention away from individual needs to the greater needs, goals, values, and vision of the team. He did not intend to build individuals; he intended to build a unit.

Too often we have worked with leaders who don’t feel it’s their job to build a team. Their attitude is that they have great people on the team; they are all successful, mature adults and will get along just fine. Wrong. Coach Schembechler understood the value of actually building a team that eventually would win the Big Ten championship. It would be the team that carried on the Michigan values to the next set of incoming freshman. Building a team was the key to sustaining success over a long period of time in spite of constantly changing team members and conditions.

§

Mentoring is a life-changing part of development. The goal is to coach and guide people through life transitions and structures, focusing on the “being” rather than the “doing.”

In many ways, mentoring resembles a parent who lets a child learn how to feed herself. It can be downright messy! Food ends up on the face, in the hair, on the floor, on Mommy and Daddy – and occasionally in the mouth. Milk is spilled so frequently that a whole industry evolved to provide those nearly spill-proof cups! Parents have two choices: Let their child thrash around and learn how to manipulate a spoon, or continue to feed her themselves. But really there is only one good choice – as is true with mentoring. You just can’t spoon-feed a child forever. Neither should you artificially prop up a work associate who must learn to handle responsibilities. You need genuine concern, patience, and a great sense of humor, whether you are teaching a child eating skills or mentoring an employee in how to handle customer complaints. But it’s worth the effort. People committed to growing together through thick and thin accomplish great things.

§

THE ESSENTIALS

  • Although developing your own strengths is important, an equally important task in leadership is maximizing the strengths and potential of the members of your team.
     
  • True mentoring relationships are built on trust.
     
  • We like to define mentoring as a long-term, mutually supportive and enhancing relationship rather than as a relationship in which a highly advanced human being tutors another who stands a step or two below him or her on the developmental ladder.
     
  • The basic definition of mentoring implies that the leader and the protégé want to build something that will last a long time.
     
  • A leader who hopes to succeed in mentoring others must first hire great people.
     
  • A leader needs to help the other person understand that success is not just “making the numbers” (competency) but includes developing character as well.
     
  • One of the hallmarks of a long-term mentoring relationship is the intentional vulnerability that develops between two people.
     
  • Men in particular must overcome an issue that many of them struggle with: It’s hard for men to be vulnerable with one another, especially in the work environment.

BECOMING A DEVELOPER OF DYNAMIC CHANGE IN OTHERS

  • Be an encourager – Encouragementrenews our courage, refreshes our spirits, and rekindles our hope.
  • Be patient – It takes patience to watch someone grow and develop into a better person.
  • Be trustworthy – You must exhibit integrity and be worthy of trust.
  • Be an opportunist – A good mentor is always searching for mentoring opportunities. Don’t wait for formal mentoring sessions. Use “teachable moments” to mentor, teach, and encourage.

STARTING THE PROCESS

  • Focus primarily on character development and then on skills.
  • Set boundaries and expectations together.
  • Use a combination of scheduled and unscheduled opportunities to learn and grow together.

NEED A MENTOR YOURSELF?

  • Be vulnerable and open to being held accountable. Leaders at all levels need mentoring, and you need a mentor too.

TEAM MENTORING

  • Be careful when mentoring teams. Large, generic approaches to mentoring are often too loose and impersonal to give the life-changing attention we advocate. You may find yourself sacrificing trust and one-on-one vulnerability in team mentoring.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

André Coindre: Writings and Documents
Vol. I: Letters 1821-1826

[Received May 15, 1823.]

My very dear Brother Director,

If you can get 120 francs for the stocking machine46, sell it. I don’t know what Chavanne can manage to earn with his loom to reduce the costs of his room and board. So if he is skillful with the shuttle and if the buyer is willing to reimburse the house for the one-third reduction requested for his room and board, then I think you can safely accept. Otherwise, I don’t see that we can go along with it. Teach the theory to him if you can. As for the frock coat, since you were only two in the house actually wearing it, and there has been a sufficient trial period, I don’t see any problem in your granting permission to wear it, but that is all up to you. However, be sure to ask the advice of those who are wearing it. It is possible that after you have made your public vows, something may be added to the habit. I am waiting for word from the Bishop of Le Puy47 about that.

You tell me that you are not without anguish as you see that things are going badly. My dear friend, badly is hardly the word when there is such a depth of good at the heart of your work. It is true that things are not perfect. But the Lord alone is perfect, and even his works, however glorious, lie always on the edge of the abyss. God made the world in six days to teach us that it takes time to achieve anything worthwhile, and that things never go as well in their infancy as when they attain full maturity. How many spring blossoms produce no fruit at all! The sower must content himself with the harvest which God sends him, even if it is not as good as the one he had hoped for, and even if it means that he has to content himself with the barest essentials.

“But the brothers do not attend to their duties satisfactorily.” – Certainly they must be challenged repeatedly in this regard; but our desire for the better must not blind us to the good. They yearn to belong to God, and that is already a good thing. So many people in the world do not possess this desire.

“They are neglectful in observing the rule.” — But they practice what is essential; their morals are pure, their faith is vibrant, their selflessness total. These things are rarer than you think. As for the rest, it is up to you to engender it, to cause it to be loved as much by your own zealous practice as by holy and salutary counsels.

“But the brothers do not accomplish their duties obediently. – Just do what Saint Paul counseled Timothy: correct, convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience and instruction. Man is like a poor old clock that must be rewound each day, but oh so gently.

“But I do not think that I am the right man to be director of this providence.” – My dear friend, notwithstanding your limitations, if I knew of anyone more suited to the job than you, I would have called you to Monistrol to give you a lighter burden. But since Providence has not, as yet, sent us that uncommon individual, allow me to tell you that though you cannot be said to soar with the eagles, it would very difficult indeed for me to find anyone to replace you. Men with all of the qualities needed to run such a big institution are hard to find. If Providence sends me a few good workers for our machines so that you can in some measure be relieved from the burden of temporalities then, thanks to their obedience, you will instill even greater activity , and the work will go as well as possible. How could I possibly be displeased with you for your love of the rule, your religious spirit, your accountability, your frugality. You have your faults, but who hasn’t?

“But good is not being done. – There is more good being done than you imagine. Little by little the brothers are bettering themselves, increasing in numbers, forming themselves. The house in Lyon is a support for the brothers in Monistrol as those in Monistrol will be one for those in Lyon. Meanwhile the membership of the congregation is increasing and, very soon, before God, thanks to your singular perseverance and commitment, you will have earned your heavenly reward for having set in place the cornerstone of our foundation and for having been one of its principal bonds. You have been and continue to be an example to many, just as your discouragement would have an equally fatal effect on the vocations of those whom you have already formed to a certain degree.

What wonderful services are being provided us by Brothers Augustin, Bernard, Barthélemy, Claude, etc! And what services to the Church will be offered by those whom we send you to form in the spirit of religion. Do not limit your sights to the narrow confines of our house in Lyon where the snowball will soon become a mountain. Don’t forget the young men whom you are training and who in the world will forget neither the lessons you have taught them, nor your own virtue, though right now they might not seem to be all that you would like them to be. They are retaining more than you think. Should they ever become fathers, ah! how much better will they be able to bring up their children! Good is constantly being done thanks to your ministry, in spite of what you might say.

“Perhaps I think myself more blameworthy than I really am.” – My very dear friend, are you not doing your best? lf you thought you could still do better, wouldn’t you do so? How can anyone be blameworthy if he is doing the best he can as best he knows how? Alas! Without doubt, there will always be some uncertainty to keep you on the alert, to keep you from complacency or indifference, but this concern must not discourage you or leave you faint-hearted. When a person is doing all that he can, he is doing all that he must.

So as things stand, there is no urgent reason, at least for the moment, for you to be relieved of your burden. What is urgent is that you do what the good Lord is asking of you, that is to carry on with the work he led you to begin. It was neither pride, nor self-interest, nor gratification which motivated you in the first place, nor is it these things which require your perseverance. Rather, it is the desire to be useful to your neighbor, to the Church, to atone for your sins. Alas! what else is necessary? If you possess before God only this desire, without being able to offer Him any success, you would be a great saint.

How many are there in the contemplative life who have longed to be able to save souls! God rewarded them for it. On the other hand there are those in the active life who have aspired to taste the sweetness of the contemplative life, when perhaps what they really wanted was to satisfy their natural inclination for peace and quiet which has no merit in the eyes of God. Here below, man will always have struggles. If these are not from without, then certainly they will come from within. Struggles outside ourselves often serve to distract us, preventing us from realizing what we would have suffered if we had been left alone to fight the temptations of solitude. The Holy Spirit tells us: “Woe to the man who is alone!” to teach us that even in solitude there are great dangers.

Moreover, my dear and beloved brother, imagine the King of France learning with pleasure news of his armies fighting in Spain48. Would he not prefer to see them there, in spite of their exhaustion, rather than to see them idly singing his praises at his court? Well then, our God needs soldiers who can endure the weariness of the day to day even more than he needs contemplatives who only honor him with their lips! Sword in hand, zeal for his glory, a desire to save, to teach, to edify one’s neighbor, this is what our God loves above all. “Those who teach others will shine as stars for all eternity,” says the prophet.

You are suffering: well then! all the better! You are walking in the footsteps of the apostles who had to undergo much adversity, of the martyrs who shed their blood, and of Jesus Christ who entered into his glory amid denials, humiliations, and pain. Your brothers do not treat you any more harshly than the apostles did our Lord. You are less persecuted by the world than he was persecuted by the scribes and the Pharisees. Your pupils are far more amenable than were the Jews. Despite all his miracles, he had but twelve apostles, and even one of them betrayed him. Besides, very soon there will be more than twelve brothers who have walked in your footsteps and who will form a part of your crown.

Yes, you are where the Good Lord wishes you to be. You can start having doubts as to whether he wants you there only when you are the last brother remaining in the congregation and all the others will have lost both the spirit of God and their vocation. But so long as there are many, so long as new members keep joining, you must believe that your vocation bears the seal of divine Providence. That is where you belong, not merely because of the promise you made to me. For a soul as loyal as yours, such a word of honor remains sacred forever.

It is possible to overcome the rest without perishing. I shall only demand from you things that are fair and within your grasp. Always open your heart to me, and God willing, I shall be able to counsel you. When the burden has become so heavy that your shoulders can no longer bear it either physically or emotionally, I shall not allow you to be crushed. We shall both one day enjoy some consolation for our sacrifices and some respite as well. All glory be to Jesus! All glory to his cross!

Our good brother Antoine has his pains, I see! Let him rest in the Lord as much as he needs. Yes, he has his pains, and you have yours. Who deserves them more? I haven’t the least idea; but may the loving and holy will of God be done above all!

Make Brother Frégier give in. But as much as you can in your dealings with everyone, show force without bitterness or inflexibility and goodness without weakness. Trust and a bit of fear, these are the two reins with which to drive your cart. Let us never ask of the men what is beyond them. Let us draw out all of the good within them as much as possible and be content with that.

Train Mr. Delon49 to teach handwriting; we shall send him to Yssingeaux50 for All Saints Day if he is able to manage that assignment.

The Honorable Brother Borgia,
director of the brothers of Pieux-Secours,
3 Montée de la Butte, Lyon.

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46 In the accounting with Mr. Dufour cited in note 35, the stocking machine was valued at 296 francs and the thread-making machine at 190 francs, 10 centimes.

47 His Grace Louis-Joseph-Maurice de Bonald (1787-1870), son of Count de Bonald, writer and legitimiste philosopher, ardent defender of the monarchy and of the Church. A member of the Chapel Imperial from his earliest years of priesthood, the Reverend de Bonald accompanied Cardinal Fesch during many missions. Appointed bishop of Le Puy in 1823, he initially supported Father Coindre in his foundations: sisters, brothers, the school at Monistrol. He took another stance regarding the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of matters of diocesan administration. Appointed archbishop of Lyon at the end of 1839, he was made cardinal in 1841 and, in this latter appointment, he maintained his interest in the congregation, more particularly in Pieux-Secours.

48 The congress of Verona in 1822 authorized France to lend support to the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, a distant relative of Louis XVIII, embroiled in a conflict with the liberals. This “Spanish expeditionary force” led by the Duc d'Angoulême in 1823 ended with the taking of the fortress of Trocadero, near Cadix, on August 31, 1823.

49 Brother Eugène.

50 An establishment due to be opened at All Saints Day in 1823; in fact, the congregation was never to have

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