Our neighbor passed away in January.  He was 80 years old and went quickly, after a short illness. He was active right up until the end. As a matter of fact, he was out in the field making hay with us last summer.

I wrote neighbor Bob’s obituary, and in the process I heard story after story about the many people he had mentored over the years. Farmers and bee keepers and neighbors and random people he met at the landfill—Bob was the kind of guy that wanted to pass his knowledge on to the people around him.

I benefited greatly from his mentorship when my wife and I moved to the country back in 2009. I didn’t know anything about farming or country life, and Bob taught me how to use a chainsaw, how to fix a riding mower, how to drive a tractor and make hay and a hundred other little things. He helped me clear the road to our barn, helped me wean pigs and build fences and tame heifers.

He was a good neighbor and a good friend.

I’ve been a teacher in my career, and I’ve always looked at my time behind the desk (or on top of the desk as the case may be) as my chance to mentor some up and coming authors, and I’ve been proud of those individuals as they’ve gone on with their careers.

Writing is solitary work, but there are always opportunities to encourage people along the way. It’s my hope that those of you who are able will take this under consideration as you go about your work days. Is there someone in the office that could use a mentor? In many cases, mentoring a younger person is as beneficial to the older person as it is to the student. It gives the wise old timer a sense of importance, and God knows that we all need that.

So, I’m encouraging you to be a good neighbor, or in this case, a good mentor. And if you’re young and someone has the kindness in them to take you under their wing, I hope you’re smart enough to let them teach you.