I’ve been fortunate to have a handful by the way, and they’ve forever altered the quality and content of my life.
What is a mentor you ask? Dictionary.com explains this in noun form as “an experienced and trusted adviser.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary is similar, “a trusted counselor or guide” and subsequent examples are that of “tutor” or “coach” among others. I think I like the Collins dictionary definition best though; “A person’s mentor is someone who gives them help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their job.”
Just for funzies, let me write this again and emphasize some things that may appear hidden or underappreciated. “A person’s mentor is someone who gives them help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their job.” I find that fascinating. Let’s let the premise of another who provides help and advice over time for you to apply to your job simmer for a bit and I’ll circle back to it.
I have had several people who I could easily classify as mentors over my short time. While I have enjoyed several influences, and will continue to, a mentor is truly one you can interact with, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, I could write to you that Thomas Aquinas, Newton, Socrates, Bernard of Clairvaux, Toynbee, Bacon, Descartes, and a myriad of others were mentors to me, as I’ve studied them in depth. However, I can’t ask any of them a question and receive an answer. If the answer lies within their credited works, possibly. But we can’t hold a dialogue. Most importantly, they can’t tap me on the shoulder and whisper, “Michael, you’re dangerously close to screwing the pooch. You’d be wise to stop at this very moment and reconsider this course of action.” A mentor can do that. …And has. I’m hoping yours do too by the way.
I’m blessed with a few mentors actually. Some never realize any, and I think that’s a crying shame. I’d place my dad atop the list for sure. He’s always been a decent and kind man. He showed us through action and example the proper ways of respect and helping those who needed the help. He’s been a pretty darned selfless man and the amount of travel and life he’s experienced help him to be a tremendous resource for me. I believe my ability to empathize has been shaped primarily by Dad.
My buddy John would be another. Age separates us in a similar fashion to my dad, but it’s a little different between us than the dynamic with Papa bear. John has a family structure similar to mine, he’s a business owner like me, and he’s a sales guy from way back, much like me. We think similarly, not the same. When we get together he’s able to help me refine crude ideas and give me direction. If you know much about guns, this analogy helps a bit. …John is able to refine my shotgun blast of pellets into a rifle shot. Sure, I was pointed the right direction before and I can fire a blast at a target and 40 little BBs hit the paper. But with John’s help over the years, I’m now able to point at that same target and act like a rifle, with one very fast and powerful bullet piercing a very small and pronounced spot on the target. For me, that focus has been extremely helpful.
I have a few more, but it wasn’t until recently I noticed I’d been skipping one, an important one, with each single time I discussed a topic like this.
Think about it. “A person’s mentor is someone who gives them help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their job.” What is your job here? What are you to be doing with your time in this place? That’s right. You’re to be serving Him. You’re to be holding yourself in such a fashion that you honor and glorify Him with what you do and how you do it. That includes what you say, what you think, and how you put those forth. Does the Lord give you help and advice over a period of time on the best practices to achieve your goals? He sure does. He’s with you your entire life and beyond. I’d say the Bible is a pretty darned good instruction manual for everyday living, is it not? Who provided that manual? He did.
So let’s alter that sentence and try it again. “God is someone who gives you help and advice over a lifetime, especially help and advice related to your reason for living.”
Fits doesn’t it? Yup-a-roonie. But here’s the problem. There are some of you reading this right now that find friction with the interactivity I mentioned earlier. You don’t want to admit it, but you’re wondering if God falls into the ‘influence’ category like those long departed folks like Bernard of Clairvaux and Plato among others. Do you believe Plato is dead? Yes. Do you believe God is dead. No. That should shore you up some, in fact plenty. Additionally, do you and can you have interactivity with the Almighty? You’re darned tootin’… You pray, just as I do. You see prayers answered, just as I do.
You may not think in those terms, but you should. Do we plop down in some coffee shop over frappuccinos and overpriced brownies, cross our legs, and have a relaxed conversation with the Lord? Nope. I never have anyway. I have incorrectly assumed in the past that interactivity was had through an audible ‘real time’ dialogue. The benefits of a classical education escape me and as I make up for them with my studies this late in life I now realize interactivity, verbal only, is a pretty big misconception.
Instead of thinking about this in terms of pillow talk you can have with your spouse, think about the letters Thomas Jefferson sent John Adams. They had a famous correspondence. They couldn’t ring each other up on the telly and rap for a bit. They put pen to paper, arranged thought, and sent it. What did God do? God spoke, people listened, the Bible was arranged with all it’s books, chapters, and verses as the true Word of God. He spoke first. It was transcribed into text. Now we pray back, act, witness, and so on. Because you may not be having audible conversations each morning with God, doesn’t mean He isn’t speaking to you. That’s a vital concept to understand.
The Old Testament was recorded for all the future generations as the beneficiaries. Isaiah 59:21 – “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of you offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.”
God’s Words are eternal and undeniable. Isaiah 40:8 – The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Paul writes in one of the earliest letters to the church how the New Testament is the Word of God just as the Old Testament is, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
Jesus prayed to the Father, as His words were given to him by the Father. John 17:8 – for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
The call to make disciples… Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
“I wish I had a mentor” is something nobody should ever have to consider, much less utter. We all have a mentor and He’s awesome! He’s instructed us to become disciples and make disciples of others. That’s truly the other half to the equation. Now that you have your mentor, and you know what to do since you’ve got a copy of the manual, what is stopping you?
Salt and light my friends… Be salt and seek light.