Mentor. Life coach. Guide.
All these, and more, are terms we hear in our culture today reflecting the need for persons to come alongside younger, more inexperienced, people so that they can be taught and encouraged to persevere in their chosen endeavors.
According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach. The term comes from literature of ancient Greece. In The Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus had an infant son when he went to war, and he was gone 20 years. During that time, his son, Telemachus, was supervised and taught by an old and trusted friend named Mentor. Thus, today, we use the word mentor to describe anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another, usually younger, person’s life.
Mentoring is discussed in Scripture as a way of life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Titus chapter 2, Paul is advising the church about personal relationships within the church, i.e., mentoring:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
In thinking about what mentoring is, I realized that there is much more to it than meets the eye. Yes, there certainly is an aspect of teaching to it, but there is also gentle guidance, attentive listening, and there is attention to the example that I am setting for others. Indeed, mentoring is more “watch me and do as I do” not just “do what I tell you to do”.
So, what are some of the things that we can teach others? Here are a few ideas. I am confident that there are a host of other things, so please give some additional ideas for those who read this post.
The value of mental exercise and work. When there is a puzzle about something, work it out … stay with it and keep thinking about it until you come up with a solution. If there truly is no solution, then identify the way around the roadblock so that you can continue on toward the goal that you have set.
The value of music and of expressing yourself in ways other than speech. Let music speak to you if you are emotionally drained, and let music reflect your feelings when you are elated!
The value of being inquisitive and of exploring the world around us. Think about something new every day.
The value of play. Take time to do something fun and if you can share the fun with others, that is even better. Also, take time to be alone and play, read, take part in some hobby, think about your goals and aspirations, learn who you are in the solitude of quiet time.
The value of relationships within the family. Cherish the older generation and listen to the stories they can share about the relatives who no longer are with us, and about you when you were young!
The value of an education. College is not for everyone, but learning most definitely is! Never stop learning and always cherish the opportunity to enlarge your mind without losing your focus! Keep up on the news. Read fiction for fun and non-fiction for fun and to expand your outlook and perspective. Study and learn daily, even if you are not “in school” – there are always lessons to be learned if we keep our spirits attentive!
Plant something, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot. Watch God work in His nature as they grow and bloom, providing food and beauty for you. [But, don’t forget to water it! J ]
The value of setting a goal and working hard to reach it. Once you have identified the goal, then go after it, even if it is a tough climb!
The value of taking risks, while being responsible in how you do it. Be prepared to fail, but try to minimize the damage if failure does occur. And, remember that failure does not have to be permanent, unless you let it define who you are; it might just be a setback from God which is designed to redirect your focus to get you on the path that He has ordained for you.
The value of restraining your anger and providing a peaceful resolution to difficulties.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
The value of honoring the Word of God. Read God’s Word every day, think about it and learn it. Study it and learn it so that it is not just in your head but also in your heart.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
A child once told his father that he knew what the Bible was:
Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
The value of sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Invite others to church with you. Take your children to Sunday School and church and attend with them, don’t just drop them off for a free babysitter! We cannot give anyone else salvation; that is a work of God through the Holy Spirit. But, we can testify to others about who Jesus Christ is and about our relationship with Him as our Savior.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Mentoring – a Scriptural activity that is worth our time and attention.
Father, I pray that you would lead me as I contemplate mentoring. I read your Word that this should be done, and I pray that you would guide me as I reach out and seek to honor your Word. Forgive me when I have ignored your prompting to do this in the past, and give me strength and wisdom to move forward in Your strength through the Holy Spirit, for Your honor and glory alone.