According to Dictionary.com, mentor is defined as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher”. I don’t know about you but that definition is a bit intimidating to me, especially if I am supposed to BE someone’s mentor, but also if I am supposed to use that definition to find a mentor for myself. The last year or two I have discovered that mentor can have other meanings as well. For example, a mentor can be a book written by “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher”. So that means Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Gregory Boyd, Craig Groeschel, and many others are some of my mentors. A mentor can also be someone who may not spend a lot of time with you, but each time he sees you says something positive or encouraging that makes you feel valued.
But there is nothing like having a real mentor in your life. I have been blessed to have had a few mentors over the years. I didn’t always listen to them or take their advice, but the seeds were planted and watered, and that’s all that matters in the end. Ed Cerny was a mentor in my teenage years who taught me many things, among them the fundamentals of strength training that I still use today. Gary Shull was a black belt in Motobo Ryu, an Okinawan martial art, and Jujitsu that offered free lessons at the church I was going to as a teen. He took a special interest in this 14 year old with no self-confidence, and gave me one-on-one lessons in his backyard. I still remember most of the escapes he taught me.
Unfortunately, I was without a mentor for many years, until shortly after Lori and I got engaged.
That’s when we started going to River Springs Church. Tim Shull (no relation to Gary that I know of, but how cool would that be) was/is the Senior Pastor of River Springs, and he and I pretty much clicked right away. He was older (a whole six months), an amazing pastor, and had been a Christ-follower since he was a kid. God placed Lori and I in that church for many reasons, and one of them (maybe the most important) was for me to have someone to help me grow in Christ. Pastor Tim guided me step by step, helping me to better understand the Bible, what it really means to be a disciple of Christ, the importance & blessings associated with tithing, how to be a leader, and then gradually brought me into a leadership role in the church. He also planted in me a desire to reach the lost, and a passion to take this newfound desire outside my comfort zone. But that is another story.
Bottom line: without these mentors in my life, particularly Pastor Tim, I would not be the man I am today.
I feel uncomfortable calling myself a mentor to others, but my hope is that at some point in my life I will have at least a small positive impact in someone’s life like those who invested in my life had in mine.
So…is there someone in your life right now that you would call a “mentor”? Is there someone in your life that you could be a mentor to? If not, why not? It really is that important. Actually, in my opinion, it is critical.