Here’s a riddle: What is something everyone wants, but very few consider themselves to be? That’s right; a mentor.
I’ve talked to many people over the years – young and old – who each wished they had a mentor in their life. Young people that want someone to walk with them; college students that want the wisdom that someone older offers; young marrieds that want another couple to share with them the lessons they’ve learned; young families that want to learn parenting skills by watching how another family does it.
What stops us from mentoring? In the christian realm, I think it’s because we have such a high opinion of what leaders should be, that we never measure up to our own standards.
Our lives aren’t pristine, our marriages are flawed, and our kids disobey. So we think, “What do I really have to offer, anyway?”
This simple answer to that question is… your life.
(Here’s a doctor friend of mine that understands his mentoring relationship with this young boy is more about the Great Commission than anything. You can watch their story here.)
The ministry I lead is dedicated to mobilizing godly people – as mentors – into the lives of kids and families, to provide tangible help and eternal hope. We do it because God’s call on His people is to care for the fatherless, to teach the younger men and women, and to be those who bring justice where it is lacking.
Whether you are a parent, a pastor, a teacher, or simply a leader of any kind, we have the opportunity to influence others in a way that sets them free to be all that God created them to be.
Remember Jesus’ invitation to his disciples – “Follow me.” Or, the Apostle Paul’s invitation to those at the church in Corinth, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” There is something about stepping into the life of another person, helping them navigate through the many “potholes” in life ahead of them, and inviting them to follow your example as you follow the example of Christ that is extremely powerful.
So what do mentors do consistently that has such a profound impact on others? Thanks to our friends in this ministry, who helped frame the role of a mentor in a way that makes it much less intimidating. Here’s what they teach:
Love. Model. Coach.
Love. As mentors, you show up. Again and again, you show up. If your mentee gives you that stereotypical teenage attitude, you don’t end your relationship. You push through it. You pursue them. That’s the example that God gave us. When we weren’t pursuing him, he pursued us.
Choosing to love someone when they seem so unloveable can prove quite difficult. But when you think through those few people in your life that have helped shape who you are today, they are people that lasted. Their impact wasn’t measured by minutes, hours, or days, but by months and probably years or decades.
Model. Our lives are powerful teaching tools. We underestimate the lessons we can teach by simply inviting someone near us to watch our lives, and to imitate us.
We model what it looks like for a godly couple so serve each other and lead their family. We show how to discipline our kids in love, or how to ask forgiveness when we mess up. There is also much that can be taught in how we interact with our server at a restaurant, or how to buy a car. These are all simple things, but to those watching, they can be significant life lessons for them.
Coach. Lastly, we teach, correct, or coach. My inclination is to start here, as I can be impatient in wanting to see someone’s life changed. But when I do, I have circumvented the role of the Holy Spirit.
Many reading this blog have heard me teach something as simple as how to shake a hand, how to respond to email, or how to confront. People crave feedback, and once a friendship has been formed, our voices become all the more stronger in the lives of our mentees.
Don’t be scared to offer your life to someone else. I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t erase our past; He redeems it.” God can use you – warts and all – to impact someone around you.
Has your life been impacted by a mentor? What was it about your relationship with them that was so powerful?