Have you been privileged to have a mentor or mentors in your life at some point? What did you gain from this person?
I can think of several people in my life who have served as mentors. I am grateful for each of them. Years ago, our church invited a very high profile minister to speak at our congregation. I felt somewhat intimidated. After all, he was from a very large church. Our church in comparison was very small. He seemed polished and was very experienced as a minister. Meanwhile, I felt — well — rather inferior to him. What I remember was that we took a long walk on a Sunday afternoon across my in-laws’ land. He listened as I talked. He told me the truth about his ministry situation. He said, "Yes, I do preach for a larger congregation and the salary is probably more than yours. On the other hand, I have some incredible expectations on me. And, in this church, I live with constant criticism from a group of people."
He went on to talk with me about my marriage and my children. He talked with me about my workload and encouraged me to do less counseling than I was doing at the time. He helped me greatly that day and on a number of other occasions in the future. To this day, I am so grateful for the way he cared enough to invest himself in me.
I have another mentor whom I have known almost thirty years. I have talked with him about almost everything imaginable about life and ministry. I recall talking with him one day while we were having lunch during the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. This has been about fourteen years ago. We were driving back to the campus. We were talking about marriage. I told him that I was wrestling with passivity. I told him that I knew it was wrong but, nevertheless, I fell into it at times. He said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for you to be different and to break a cycle that is all too common in men." That statement was incredibly helpful to me. I am so thankful that he was willing to step into my life and say this.
I want to close with a wonderful comment that Jen placed on my blog the other day regarding the place of mentoring in her life. I can’t say this any better.
My mother has always told me that she felt every little girl needed
someone outside of her parents that thought she was wonderful. To me,
this formed the basis of my understanding of a mentor. I certainly do
not see my role as a mentor as only a cheerleader, but one who values a
person so highly to offer graciousness and truth in the context of
love. I have had many mentors and cheerleaders across my life, both
men and women. I also have had the honor of mentoring two younger
women than myself. It is humbling, as I watch these younger women take
my words and sort them out. I offer my words much more cautiously at
this point, praying for discernment. As I have grown into these
mentoring roles, they have illuminated my need for community wisdom,
and I find myself looking for those moments when I can talk with those
older than myself. There are some that I have sought out over the
years, and I do have one mentor that has lasted over many years who I
feel completely comfortable with in my most authentic self. There are
also others that have been complete surprises to me, and I have almost
overlooked them because I was looking for something different.
Mentoring is close to my heart, and I am enriched for those who mentor
me and those who I am privileged to mentor.
What have you gained from a mentor? How have you been blessed by having a mentor or mentors in your life?