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Mentors, One of Life Greatest Gifts

             It’s been an interesting day.  Yesterday was a frustrating day at best, mind-bogglingly irritating day at worst.     Tired of dealing with the same situation over and over again, I decided that it was time to make sweeping changes.  Enough was enough!     When I woke up this morning, I was pretty darn content with my decisions.  

            No more struggling---no more persevering.   Why keep trying to fix something that was broken when it would be so much easier to replace it with something new?   I was a man on a mission!


            Of course, being that this whole experience happened just a few days before Christmas, there was nothing I could actually DO.     I could think about what I was going to do.   I could imagine how great the outcome would be---I just couldn’t DO anything until the holiday passed---but then, watch out world (or at least my little corner of it) big changes were coming! 


            In the meantime,  I decided to ask someone for advice on the new plan.

            By lunchtime, advice was given---only it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  


            Instead, it was a good dose of truth---perspective---a different point of view that shed a unique light on the subject. 


            Slow down.   Count the cost.   Remember your goals.  


            As soon as we received the answer I was instantly struck by three emotions:


            First, Annoyance.   (Just keeping it real here!)    How dare they throw a wet blanket on my idea?  Didn’t they know what we were going through?     Why couldn’t they just tell us what we wanted to hear?


            The second thing that I felt was Frustration.   (Yep, more vulnerability)   I was frustrated because I knew what they were saying was true, I just didn’t want to hear it.   I wanted the struggle to end---quickly---maybe too quickly.    Hearing our friend’s words of wisdom reminded me that at least for the time being I had to buck up, endure, and persevere.   


            However, being a complex individual, almost simultaneously I felt one more emotion.    Being completely honest, it seemed like this emotion overwhelmed all of the rest.   What was this last emotion?  


            Gratitude---Intense Gratitude.  


            Sounds strange, doesn’t it?   Yet it is absolutely true. 


            Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted”


            Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”


            Without a doubt, I can say that both of these Scriptures apply in my situation.   Because even though it’s true that I didn’t want to hear what my older, wiser friend had to say, I desperately needed to hear their wisdom.   Their perspective asked questions for which I didn’t have answers.   They reminded me to slow down and make wise choices rather than a rash decision based on emotions.   Quite honestly, because they weren’t emotionally involved in the situation and could see much more clearly than I could from the center of the struggle, they helped me avoid a potentially big mistake.  Just days before the Christmas season, my friend gave me one of the great gifts that an older Christian can give to a younger Christian.  For that, I am eternally grateful.


            I’m not only grateful for their advice, but I’m grateful for my friend.   Once again, I am reminded that one of the most valuable things a man can have in his life is a friend who is willing to act as a mentor and share their experiences and wisdom and speak the truth into your life.  


            Personally, I’m a big believer in the concept of mentoring or discipleship.   In fact, I believe that it is every Christian’s responsibility to be actively involved in both ends of the discipleship process.  Like a funnel, each of us needs someone to be pouring into us while we are at the same time pouring into someone else.   This is how the body of Christ continues to thrive and grow without anyone becoming either empty or stagnant. 


            I know in my own life, I’ve been very blessed to have a few choice individuals who were willing to share their wisdom and offer advice when I need it.   I’m always amazed when they say that they’ve experienced many of the same things in their lives and tell me what they’ve learned.   It’s even more amazing when weeks or months later I find myself sharing their advice along with my own experiences with younger men.   On and on the cycle continues providing support, wisdom, and strength for all of us as we go along life’s journey.   


            When it comes to living the Christian life, Mentorship is something that you don’t want to be without.     


            Of course, mentoring and being mentored comes with a price.    The truth is that a relationship cannot truly be a mentorship unless the people involved are willing to contribute two essential ingredients:  Vulnerability and Honesty.  Those are scary words and the reason that many male relationships stay at the level of friendship without ever becoming a mentorship.  


            Reality is that it’s hard to express your vulnerability and admit that you need advice.  Too often we prefer that everyone think we have it all together.    On the other hand, it’s difficult to be a mentor and open up and share your failures, mistakes, emotions and lessons learned with another.    Yet, without vulnerability, discipleship can’t happen.   


           Even Jesus knew this to be true.   Think about it:  He taught crowds of people every day, but He lived with the men that He called His Disciples.     They saw Him at His most vulnerable:  when He was tired, hungry, frustrated, and broken-hearted.     He shared things with them that He didn’t share with the crowd.  Even though He knew that one would ultimately betray Him, He still allowed Himself to be vulnerable to this small group of men because He knew that vulnerability is an essential ingredient in discipleship. 


            Jesus set the example by exhibiting the other key ingredient necessary in Discipleship.    Whether He was prophesying over their future, teaching about the kingdom, or correcting their less than stellar behavior, Jesus always spoke the truth.    In fact, one of His most popular phrases was “I tell you the truth.” 


            Following Jesus’ example, any Christian that enters into a mentoring/discipleship relationship must enter with the intent to make honesty their top priority.     After all, if the person you’re going to for advice and wisdom doesn’t tell you the truth but just tells you what you want to hear, what’s the point?    As Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”


            Being a true friend and mentor means telling someone the truth even when it isn’t what they want to hear because you care more about their personal growth and success than you do about whether or not you hurt their feelings.  I’m very glad that my sister and I have several friends like this, and I pray that I will be this type of friend.


            As we start embarking on 2014, I pray that each one of you will have these types of relationships in your life.   If you don’t currently have a mentor; I challenge you to begin praying and asking God to send both someone you can mentor and someone who will mentor you into your life.   As He provides, I pray that these relationships will be marked with both vulnerability and honesty---both of which are character traits of godly men.    Someday soon I hope that you’ll be the one sharing a story like mine that says, “My friend took a chance and shared the truth, and that was the greatest gift they could have given.”  


“Being Honest May Not Get You A lot of Friends, But It Will Always Get You The Right Ones.”

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