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!
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