If I were to ask who you mentor, would you shrug and give me a quizzical look? If you answered, “I don’t mentor,” I’d say you mentor folks right now in your own circle. In your workplace, your church, or social groups you influence others. Someone is learning how to live her life by watching you.
We find examples of this kind of relationship in the Bible, although the word mentor wasn’t used until centuries later.
Naomi mentored Ruth, who didn’t know at the time she’d be the great great… grandmother of Jesus.
Elizabeth was an example to her younger cousin Mary, mother of Jesus. She offered Mary, an unmarried teenager, a safe place for three months during her pregnancy. Elizabeth conceived her first and only baby in old age. She and Mary shared the miraculous events that made them mothers. I’d love to hear the conversations between those two. Elizabeth would surely encourage Mary and model strong trust in God. Mary, I imagine, returned home, emboldened with faith and confidence to handle the incredible days and years to come.
The Apostle Paul mentored young men who became early leaders of the Christian church. As I’ve pored over Paul’s New Testament letters, the words drip with passion as he conveys every single truth He’s learned about Jesus. He didn’t want his disciples to miss any of the good stuff.
But as for you, my child, be empowered by the grace that is in Jesus, the Anointed One. Whatever you heard me teach before an audience of witnesses, I want you to pass along to trustworthy people who have the ability to teach others too.2 Timothy 2:2
Jesus mentored his twelve disciples. He wrote His message on them. They were His living books who would spread His life-changing message to the world. They’d share deep fellowship with Jesus. They were eye-witnesses of His resurrection. The great story would spill out of them wherever they travelled. We’re part of that same fellowship today, thanks to those early leaders who blazed the trail.
Parents are natural mentors. This is true for teachers, too. Whether you have one little person or a whole tribe, they’ll model their lives after yours. They’ll learn to care for others and love God as they watch you.
Being a mentor is an awesome responsibility when we understand the breadth of influence we have on others.
Who has influenced your life? Have you had a mentor? Whose lives do you influence today?
My mom surrendered to Jesus in her fifties and never looked back. For the rest of her life she taught the Bible and prayed daily for scores of people, including the president and her favorite Hollywood actors. She wanted everyone to know Jesus. As a wonderful mom and homemaker, she inspired me to love home, work hard and serve my family.
My mentor Charlotte taught me to pray for my family while kneading bread. I learned how to cook yellow squash and onions in the skillet. I can almost smell the aroma now. Her cooking, along with her smile and southern drawl, comforted anyone who came into her home. I learned to love hospitality from her. She’d set the table with china and a tablecloth, then add a cast iron skillet with cornbread to make people feel at home. Years later when I came back for a visit, she’d greet me with a huge hug and I’d settle into a comfy upholstered chair, patterned in red and blue. In front of me was the familiar shiny dark wood table spread with steaming coffee, cream and cups with saucers. There’d always be a special baked treat. Her Bible was close by and open and she’d share the latest truth she’d mined from scripture. At home, I’d hurry to write down all the inspired ideas she’d shared. It was a taste of heaven.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.Proverbs 13:14
Barbara is a mentor who became my close friend. We’re in touch across the miles and visit as often as possible. The distance doesn’t deter us. I learned to love God and His Word from Barbara. We’d sit in her back yard and read to each other from My Utmost For His Highest while our kids ran around. She’s one of the most selfless people I know and is always thinking of ways she can help others. I don’t think I’ll learn to be as unselfish as her, but I’m working on it. She sacrifices her convenience at a moment’s notice when someone needs her.
I’ve often needed her. She helped me through the most painful times in my life. She’s cried with me and celebrated the good things in my life. Her husband led me to Jesus when I was a teenager. Our relationship spans fifty years. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat at her table. I needed fellowship more than the food she fed me. She always pointed me to Jesus, the answer in every conundrum.
Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds.Hebrews 10:24
A mentoring relationship often occurs naturally. One woman invites another to come along on her journey. You certainly don’t need to be perfect to mentor. People will learn from you when you’re honest about your struggles and hardships. That’s real life. What matters most is that we point them to our Source.
One thing surprises me about mentoring younger women. I gain as much or more from our friendships than they do. It’s been life-giving for me to come alongside them. I’m a better person. I’m grateful God directs our steps and creates such special connections.
Open your eyes and heart to opportunities for sharing your life with those nearby.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17