Thursday, 07 April 2011 14:37

The Value of a Mentor

Written by  Candy Arrington
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Chris grew up poor and with no father around. He was constantly in trouble. One summer he went to a camp and met a man who became his mentor—a friend, counselor, and instructor. Chris heard words of affirmation and encouragement from his mentor and his life turned around. He became the first person in his family to graduate from high school and college. He later played pro ball and now works for a national ministry. Having a mentor made a huge impact on Chris’ life.

 

The World: An Unintentional Mentor

From sports stars to celebrities, the world is full of people we admire. We imitate their fashions, behavior, and vocabulary. Sometimes we’re attracted to their personalities and actually choose to be like them. Other times we model other people without even realizing it. What we copy could be as subtle as a facial expression or a gesture or it could be as obvious as words we start saying or attitudes and actions we mirror. That’s why it’s important to be around those who honor God and are positive role models.
Mentors in the Bible

The Bible is full of stories of those who patterned themselves after people who loved God and kept his commandments.

• Mordecai and Esther—Esther was an orphan. Her relative, Mordecai, raised Esther as his daughter and was her mentor. When Esther became queen, Mordecai continued to advise, encourage, and pray for her. Esther’s courage was tested when an evil friend of the king suggested the king kill all the Jews in the land. Esther was Jewish. Mordecai reminded her that she wouldn’t escape death because she was queen and that God had placed her where she was for a purpose. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Mordecai’s counsel helped Esther put aside her fears and come up with a plan to save her people.

• Paul had a not-so-great reputation for persecuting Christians, but once his life changed he became a missionary and a mentor. Among those who went with Paul on missionary journeys and whom he mentored are Barnabas, John Mark, Timothy, Silas, and Titus. In a letter to Titus, Paul explains the importance of setting a good example. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech” (Titus 2:7-8). Paul not only served as a mentor to those who traveled with him but to members of numerous New Testament churches.

• Jethro and Moses—Moses had a tough job. He was judge and jury for the Children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness. The Bible says the people crowded around him from morning until night to have their cases heard and judged. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, observed what the stress of Moses’ job was doing to him and told him he needed helpers because he was ruining his health and had no time for his family. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). This was probably not the first time Jethro served as an advisor to Moses. Sometimes we’re blind to how our actions affect us or unable to realize that we could benefit from help. Like Moses, a mentor can help us gain a different perspective.

• Generational Mentoring—A mentor doesn’t have to be someone outside your family. A mentor may be as close as a parent or grandparent. Timothy learned from his mother and grandmother. Solomon followed the advice of his father, King David, “Observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands” (1 Kings 2:3) and became the wisest man ever. It’s a special blessing to have a family heritage of those who guide and teach us.

Wisdom of the Aged

Sometimes we look at older people and think what could we possibly learn from them? But those how have lived a long time and trusted God through difficult circumstances have a wealth of wisdom. You may discover that your grandfather understands what it’s like to be unpopular and can share practical ways to be okay with that. Or an older neighbor may have good advice on how to overcome self-esteem issues. God may put an older person in your life to teach you something special. What you learn may be something other than a spiritual lesson. The knowledge you gain may help you decide a career path, change a negative habit, or have a different attitude.

Ultimate Mentor

No matter how great your mentor is don’t forget Jesus is our ultimate mentor. Human mentors can still make mistakes and do things that disappoint us, but Jesus is the only one who never lets us down. He is the ultimate role model. In 1 Corinthians 11:1(NIV) Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul knew the importance of keeping his focus on Christ and not losing that connection as he mentored others.
For three years, Jesus mentored the disciples, preparing them to carry on his ministry once he was no longer present in human form on earth. The good news is Jesus is still available to mentor us through His word (the Bible), the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, and through people in our lives who honor God and serve as mentors.

Qualities of a Godly Mentor
1. Growing in Christ—daily devotions, prayer, and Bible study
2. Faithful in worship—involved in church activities
3. Priorities in place—God, family, others
4. Modeling Christ—actions, attitudes, and language reflect Christian principles
5. Sharing Christ—willing and available to testify of God’s grace
6. Living for Christ—seeking God’s will in all aspects of life
7. Honest and Trustworthy—knows the importance of the truth and can be trusted
8. Humble—not thinking too highly of himself or herself
9. Servant-hearted—serving God and others
10. Thankful—recognizes blessings and praises God for them
 

Candy Arrington is a contributing writer. Photography by William Frye.
 

Last modified on Friday, 08 April 2011 10:17
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