1 Timothy 5:1-2
5 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
We all need mentors. Not just in spiritual matters, but in all of ways of life. Elders are any people that are older than us and younger men are just that. The same goes for both men and women. It is an essential element in our growth as human beings and as Christians, as workers and as people of commerce. The world is full of people who can be our mentors and people who we can be mentors to. All we have to do is be open to the possibilities and we will see this all around us.
To illustrate this, I am going to share some of the mentors I have had in my life and also some of the people I have mentored. None of this is being done out of a boastful heart, but rather out of a heart that desires each and every one of you to take on the role of a mentor ads well as finding a mentor, no matter how old or how young. No matter what decade in life we are living, we can still learn new things and take on new challenges. I hope I continue to learn well past 100 and that I also continue to teach just as long.
One of the first mentors I can recall is my Grandpa. He was a rugged man who worked hard and long hours. My fondest memories of him was as a farm hand in Freeport, Maine. He would rise early in the morning to call the cows in and feed them while milking them at the same time. We used to go out early with him and call in the cows when we visited on vacation. “” Come Bawsss. Come Bawsss” was his call. The call would go ringing out through the fields and they slowly but surely would make their way in. they knew his voice.
We had the wonderful honor of helping hook up the milking machines and the undignified honor of pushing the mess out from the trench behind the cows. I remember once pushing so hard I went sliding down the chute with the mess, landing in a pile of manure. It took a while to clean up after that morning. I never wanted to do that chore again, but I learned that was not an option. I was much more careful after that. We also had the hard chore of helping bale the hay. Getting up on the bale wagon was a hot chore as we piled those hay bales as high as we would. We also had the chance to help run the pasteurizing machine and see the m ilk get picked up and go to market.
We often visited during calving season and got to name the calves when we did. This was one of our favorite jobs. The little guys were so cute and we would watch them grow through the years. My brother and I loved to compare how well our cows are doing and how much milk they gave. We also enjoyed the rope swing my Grandpa had extended from high in the rafters down across the barn floor. We would swing down from the hayloft and into the hay piles on a regular basis. Summers and Grandpa’s house were always much anticipated events.
Grandpa also had a lobster boat. Just behind his farm was Casco bay, one of the best lobster fishing bays in all of North America. We would go out on the boat with him and bring in the traps. I can still see the seagulls flying around waiting for the bait to be thrown out. They would call out regularly “Mine, Mine” just like in the movie “Finding Nemo.” Most of the lobsters we caught were already sold, but every once in a while, we would get one to eat that night. I have never been able to duplicate that taste. Fresh lobster is my favorite food!
When he retired from that job, he got married and moved to a little berg near Blue Hill Maine. There he started a big garden and worked on it all the time. We would go down to the seashore and dig fresh clams out of the mud at low tide. We would then bring them back to the house and have them steamed for supper. My oh my, what a feast! Grandpa died with his boots on, taking down a tree in the front yard. My mom told me later that was the way he should have gone as he was always a hard worker.
As I look at his life, I can see the work ethic he instilled within me. Not only him, but my mom as well. My mom had my dad leave her when I was five. She was the church secretary at the Congregational church where we grew up. She worked long, hard hours as she was involved in every aspect of the church, which required some night meetings as well. She raised us three kids alone and did a great job. Later she took a job at Norton Company in the HR department and eventually I landed a job there after wandering through life for a few years. That was a great job that I stayed with until I moved to Iowa 7 years later. Her hard work ethic paved the way for a good career for me.
In lasing on the torch, my kids have also garnered a strong work ethic, as I have become a mentor for them. They work long, hard hours and are faithful to their employers, something they have learned from both me and my wife. She has worked for the same company or a subsidiary in the same building for the last 30 years. And she has worked in a local restaurant for the same amount of time. She is a hard worker as well, instilling this into her children and now our one grandchild that works.
Yes, we are mentors to our children whether we realize it or not. We will instill in them virtues and bad habits as they grown and watch us. They learn from everything we do and go on in life to mimic much of it. Our children saw us working hard and being loyal to our place of work and they have done the same for the most part. Our grandchildren have seen the same and we pray they will have the same drive and ambition.
Spiritual mentors have been many for me and I am not going to point one or the other out at this time. One taught me to worship, one taught me to use my talents, one taught me to study the word, one taught me to rid myself of pride and one taught me to be a leader of men. All of them had different and meaningful impact on my life. I, on the other hand, have not been the spiritual leader I wish I had been. I was good at studying the word for myself, but not very good at letting my children see me doing so. I did not instill; in them a love for God and His word, but instead they saw someone who was inconsistent with the truths he espoused.
You see, I was a negative influence for God in their lives while I was a positive influence for others outside my home. None of my kids are now in church, although they all; confess a belief in God. They will all ask me for prayer when things are going on in their lives, and they will all ask me for advice. I wish I had been a better mentor for my kids through their growing years and realize I can still have that effect on their lives, but not with as much influence as I had in in those formative years. There are still many that I mentor in spiritual things, and I am indeed a disciple at my Pastor’s feet.
The one young man I most admire now is Bob. I met Bob as a teenager, a little wild and reckless, but with a heart for God. He would be around the tent meetings we went to, and would often attend the services during the day when I helped lead worship. Through the years I kept in touch with Bob, encouraging him in the Lord and watching him grown in his own right. Bob is one of the leading tent evangelists in the country right now, on the road 35 weeks out of the year carrying the gospel top the inner cities. I am so proud of what he has become and am humbled that I had just a little hand in that. I now learn a tremendous amount from him every time I am able to be in his services.
In business, I trained many salespeople, and had many trainers. But my very favorite trainer was Larry. He was such a good friend and such a solid influence in my life. I will never forget the many lessons on sales and persistence that he taught me and they have carried on through the years. He taught me to never burn a bridge, to keep good call records, to always follow up quickly, to send thank you cards and to be persistent all the time. We had a great friendship which was recently renewed as he came to visit me at a book signing. I cried when he walked in, so glad to see him after about 20 years apart. We reminisced for a while as he told me lessons, he had learned from me! All the while I thought of him as my mentor, and here he had learned from me as well. It can go both ways!
One of my favorite employees became a mentee of mine. Craig came straight from a factory job, never having an ounce of sales. I could teach him everything Larry taught me and he would eat it up. Craig became a top sales rep with our company and has moved on to be a leader for another company in sales. I like to think I had something to do with his success and am thrilled every time we have a chance to get back together. It is a blessing to know you helped someone start a career and become successful, and now they have moved on to greater things.
These are just a few examples. I could go on for another hundred pages of all the people who have ben mentors to me and who I have mentored. I would like you to give thought to all the people in your life that you have mentored or who have mentored you. If you feel so brave, leave a note in the comments about such people. It is good to acknowledge them and thank them. We owe our life to them in many ways. Seek out mentors and seek out people to mentor.
Jesus told us to make disciples of all men. Isn’t that what mentoring in the faith does? It teaches all men (and women of course) about the disciplines of our faith. Making disciples and mentoring someone in the things of God is the same thing. Let’s all find a way to make this happen, for these were some of Jesus last words to the disciples and to us before he finally arose to heaven to sit with His Father. Wouldn’t His last words seem to be the ones He most wants us to adhere to?