The Power of Mentoring and Accountability
Each of us has a select few people in our life who have truly helped shape who we are today. Our parents certainly exert a great influence over what kind of adults we ultimately become, but the impact of mentors outside the family
sphere cannot be understated.
When I was growing up, my folks were politically active and when I was in high school they introduced me to the man who served as Nebraska’s Secretary of State for 24 years, Allen Beermann. When I started college at UNL, he asked me to check in with him. When I did, he hired me to be his driver (mostly on weekends) taking him to various speaking engagements across the state. While I drove, he worked on business matters. I learned a great deal from Sec. Beermann during those hundreds of hours we spent together. Mostly I learned how he thought and how he prioritized his time. I would also bounce my youthful ideas off him and he helped keep me grounded, helping shape me into who I am today. Today he is 83 and we still stay in contact regularly. I continue to value his counsel.
Another gentleman who helped shape me was our state senator from Aurora, Maurice Kremer. He was the most godly man I’ve ever known. He was gentle, loving, kind and wise from above! He was a father to me while I was away from home and I am grateful for the love he gave this young college kid. I worked with him daily while I served as a page in the legislature, which was a great learning exercise all on its own.
As a page I had the unique opportunity to sit in on normally closed committee hearings which gave me as a young person a window into how decisions are made, the discussions and debates that take place and all that goes into what’s been called the sausage making process. Two especially fortunate pages sit alongside the lieutenant governor overlooking the body from his elevated position, running the microphones of the senators speaking from the floor. One of those pages also is the time keeper for speeches. It is a great opportunity to listen and learn about the process and the content of legislation being talked about.
One of my clearest memories of my time as a page was listening to a bill being discussed, while I was sitting with the lieutenant governor. I thought, “This bill is a no-brainer! It will surely pass!” However, once the opponents of the bill stood up and shed new light on that "no-brainer" bill, I realized the issue was not as simple as I had thought. That experience taught me to make sure I listened to two (or more) sides of an issue before making a decision. In retrospect I would say learning that one principle was my greatest take away from working as a legislative page.
A preacher once said when people do not end up well in life they most often run aground because of silver, sex, self, sloth or song. By that he meant human beings are all too easily tripped up by a love of money, sexual desire (what the Bible calls lust), self-centered pride, laziness or imprudent and riotous living.
However, those who do finish well consistently have two components in play throughout their lives— accountability to a group of peers and having a mentor.
We all need a close friend or a group of friends among our peers with whom we can be absolutely transparent and share victories and struggles. Everyone needs a buddy who listens and cares.
It’s also vital to have a mentor—someone older and wiser who has already been through the season of life you are in, someone who can help point the way during times of confusion and discouragement. Both accountability to peers and mentorship by a senior helps one finish the race well. None of us is meant to shoulder burdens alone. Although I did not realize it at the time, Sec. Beermann and Sen. Kremer helped me in those areas.
This brings me to the topic of the week; the opportunity for young Nebraskans to become a legislative page. Applications are now being accepted from high school graduates to become pages in the 60-day short session that will take place from Jan. 3 to April 18, 2024. Applications must be turned into the Clerk of the Legislature no later than Oct. 13 (less than a month away). Applicants must be a high school graduate and enrolled in a Nebraska college or trade school with a GPA of 2.5 or better on the 4.0 scale. Pages must be able to work 20 hours a week in four-hour shifts and are paid above minimum wage. They may also be able to receive college credit for their service.
A page’s duties include responding to a senator’s request light on the legislative floor because sometimes during Final Reading we are restricted to remain in our seats. Pages also run errands, deliver messages, photocopy documents, assist the presiding officer and set up and staff committee hearings. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn how the government works!
You can find the page application online at: nebraskalegislature.govunicampages. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the page program.