I've been very blessed to have had a number of men and women and my life who have played the role of mentor. I can confidently say that I would not be the follower of Jesus, husband, father, and friend that I am today without these relationships. The generous amount of time and effort these people have poured into my life has paid back dividends that are immeasurable.
I remember Chuck Solazo, my 5th grade Sunday School teacher. He poured into me and other boys a love of God that I remember to this day. Things could be rough at home, but Mr. Solazo was always there, ready to listen, and give words of advice. I saw in him that a strong man loved God and his family and gave of himself out of that love. Others in my church life have given me similar examples of what it means to me a strong man of faith - Herbert, Rick, Kelly, Dick, Dante, Jeff, Steve, Gary, Terry, and others. All of these men played a decisive role in my life in times when I needed the wisdom that comes from experience.
I think of Judith, a wonderful woman of God who I had the privilege of serving with in ministry. She always had an ear that was tuned to the Holy Spirit and as she listened to me, she always had a steady, strong word for me that would cut through my own self-deception. Her kind and loving spirit encouraged me to never put the demands of the day above the needs to my family, friends, and those God called me to shepherd. She and other women - Sue, Helen, Loreene, Donna, Jackie, Kathy, Sandra, and many others have been used by God in powerful ways to either keep me on the right path or set me off on it.
I mention these folks because there were times when I didn't appreciate what was happening. I wasn't present in a way that allowed me to fully absorb what they were trying to teach me. I have come to see with a clarity that only time can give how much they loved me and through them, how much God loved me. These people were grinding off the rough edges of my life.
Proverbs 27:17 reads, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
I experienced this reality through these relationships.
We all need friends and mentors in our lives. People who will lovingly hold us accountable and help us get on the right path. We too need to be these type of people for others. A true friend will walk with someone and show them the way when they are lost. In our world of live and let live, this has become somewhat offensive. Statements like "You can't tell me what to do!" or "Until you have walked a mile in my shoes..." are used to keep this kind of closeness at arms length.
The truth is that we need each other. So what to do? Give these a try:
1. Take stock of your relationships. Which ones are helping you to grow and which ones are holding you back? Sometimes our friends will hold us back because they don't want to grow themselves. It's more comfortable wallowing in the muck together than watching someone climb out of it and being left alone.
2. Decide to pour into the life-giving relationships and seek out people wiser than yourself and ask them if they will help you to grow. You will be surprised to find that people are ready to help you grow if you are willing to try.
3. Decide to be that kind of person in someone else's life. It's good to receive, but better to give. Pour yourself into others who are not as far down the road of life as you. They and you will both be blessed.
True friends and mentors are worth their weight in gold. Treasure them and become one to others and you will find life to be so much sweeter that you ever dreamed!
I remember growing up in the 70's. I wanted to be a pilot, ocean liner captain, train engineer, police officer, and general all-around hero to the masses. I remember watching men land on the moon and being amazed at all the scientific discoveries happening around the world. I loved studying World War II history and these big giant machines called computers showing up all over the place. Star Wars opened up whole new worlds of adventure. The possibilities were endless and daydreaming made it all possible.
I also remember working hard. My parents expected my brothers and me to take part in family life through our chores. Cleaning our rooms, taking care of the yard, doing the dishes and so much more were all part of growing up. We had to do our part for the family to function well. We learned that privilege and blessing come with a price. It was called work and what we didn't know was that our parents were actually helping us to grow up.
We never doubted our parents’ love for us but at times it seemed they were awfully hard on us. Truth is, I am glad that my parents pushed me hard. It made grow up. I learned that I had to take responsibility for things in life. I needed to "pay my dues" if I wanted to experience the best that life had to offer. I couldn't sit around or ignore my responsibilities. There was plenty of time to play and goof off, but the work needed to get done first. No work = no reward.
The excitement of my childhood dreams began to be framed by the reality of hard work and discipline. I was going to have to grow up and become a man.
As I look around today, I see in our culture a level of immaturity that was not present in decades past. Today, we are experiencing a lack of maturity in so many critical areas. The government, business, religion, education, parenting, and so many other areas of our society are experiencing the negative effects of a culture of entitlement, disdain for the blessings of age, and an unwillingness to accept responsibility. Failed leaders, businesses, and churches are all products of this new reality.
How did we get here? I don't want to point fingers or name names, but I think there are a lot of factors that have lead us to this point. The "me" generation, divorce, helicopter parents, easy access to money, and a "win the lottery" mentality, rather than a "work hard, pay your dues" mentality, have all taken us to this place where many delay growing up, being responsible, and working hard. We seem to want to avoid growing up because frankly, it's hard!
The bible talks about this in 1 Corinthians 13:11 when it says "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I think there are a few things we can glean from this verse:
1. Life is a process of growing into maturity. There is a place where childish thinking is appropriate. But that is not where we are to stay.
2. Maturity is the goal. The expectation is that as we grow in maturity, we will set aside childish thinking.
3. Growing up is something to look forward to and be embraced.
If these things are true and the goal of a life well lived, what are we to do? I don't believe it is realistic to think that our efforts alone will change the culture at large; However, I do believe that we can change our immediate world and affect the world of those around us. The question is how? Here are a couple of ideas:
1. Make the decision to grow up and be responsible in all areas of your life - relationships, work, faith, community. If you don't start here, you will stay right where you are.
2. Realize that you are a living example to those around you - adults and children alike. People are watching. What you do tells people what you value and what's acceptable. Your kids and others will model what they see in you.
3. Learn to love delayed gratification. Only children believe that they "deserve" everything right now. Grown ups know that you have to work hard and, in time, you might get what you desire.
4. Choose to see the blessing of hard work and sacrifice. This is countercultural but it's what mature people do to achieve their dreams and goals.
These are not the only things that we should do, but they are a start. Admittedly, there is a lot in each one of these steps. However, I believe that if each one of us, within our own lives and relationships, puts these steps into practice, not only will we keep growing to maturity, but we will send the message to those who are watching, as well as those affected by our actions, that this is the better way.
Growing up is hard work, but it's worth it. So set aside those areas of your life that hold you back, step up, and get going!
Roughly a year ago, we completed our expansion project here at Liberty Bible. One of the first events that we were able to host in the enlarged space was the Open House Ministries fundraiser dinner/auction.
Liberty Bible has a long history of partnering with Open House and last night we were happy to again host this incredible event. In addition to lending them the space they needed, many church members were on hand to prepare food, work as table servers or help with the auction.
Open House is currently in the early stages of expanding their facility to better serve the homeless families that they minister to. Much of the money raised at the dinner/auction will be going toward that goal. While we haven't yet heard how much was raised through the auction...$30,000 was raised just in donations!
It's just so awesome that with God's blessing, we were able to expand our building and then in turn, pass that blessing along to help another ministry do the same thing! God is so good!
If you haven't heard of Open House Ministries, we encourage you to visit their website. They do amazing work for our community!
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