Although this post is based on biblical teaching, the truth is universal, whether you're a Jesus follower or not. We all need a mentor, and we all need to be a mentor... not just professionally, but to make it through this life.
Who is that person who is pouring into you? Who is the person that you’re pouring into?
Every year I come back from the Bahamas trip with a souvenir. But it’s not quite what you might think—it’s a little trinket of wisdom that someone has spoken, that the Holy Spirit uses to have an impact. This year, it was just a casual conversation some of us leaders were having as we watched the students and student leaders share God's love outside the straw market. We were talking about the power of mentoring, the importance of leading. I’m sure that my colleague stated it better, but the power of those two questions struck me: Who is mentoring you, and who are you mentoring?
Most Christians have heard it before—everyone needs both a Paul and a Timothy. The problem I find that I have is that I’m sitting around waiting for my Paul to show up. And frankly, I don’t put enough effort into being intentional with a Timothy. Sometimes those relationships happen naturally, but more often we need to be intentional about seeking out those relationships.
Matthew 28:19-20—the “missionary passage“ tells us that we need to “Go and make disciples.” Somehow for many years I missed it—I read it as go and make converts. Go and preach the gospel, evangelize. But the Word says that we should be intentionally making disciples. We should be looking for specific people we can share life wisdom with.
Making disciples seems to carry a lot of pressure. But God perfectly prepares us for it. All of those struggles and challenges and temptations we face are real life training for discipleship making. The hard things we face are the hard things that someone else will face.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul praises God for the comfort God has given to him. He states that during our times of deepest pain, God brings us comfort. We then are able to take those lessons we learn in the storm to comfort someone He will place in our path. The beauty that comes from our ashes is not just our victory—it’s the glory of our being able to pour comfort and healing and hope into the lives of the people who struggle in similar ways.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 that we are letters of recommendation for those people who have spent time mentoring us. We are letters, written by the Holy Spirit, telling everyone about His glory alive in us. We are walking testimonies of God’s redemption and grace poured into us by those who have gone before us.
Finally, in 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Paul is reminding Timothy (and describing for us) that Timothy has followed Paul in his teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance and persecution. Paul didn’t just do a weekly Bible study or pray with Timothy. Paul did life with Timothy. God created us for community—to intentionally share our God journey with someone younger who can thrive from the wisdom we have gained. The life experience we've gained, we were meant to use to encourage and teach someone else.
So, here’s your homework:
1. Write a physical letter, a note of thanks to the person who has mentored and influenced your life.
2. Write a note of encouragement to the person who you are mentoring and influencing.
And if you don’t have a mentor and someone you're mentoring… well then, it’s time to get busy finding them.