i am participating in NaBloPoMo which is known as National Blog Posting Month in which the invitation or challenge is to post a blog every day [except on day 2 of the month when you are camping in a place with no internet signal even for your cute little hotspot device!] and for this one i decided to take up one of the prompts they provided:

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.

mentori wouldn’t say i have a mentor. in fact the only story i tell of having a mentor is one i had for literally five minutes. a great pastory guy by the name of Craig Duvel who i have grown to respect in leaps and bounds over the years but who always lived in a province far away from mine [and since he moved to my province, i moved country so that didn’t help a lot]. i remember sitting with him at a camp and i think it was related to my struggles with pornography/masturbation at the time but his advice was, ‘Keep a Short Account with God’ and i have used that and shared that many times since then. He told a story of how one morning at 3am he was woken up and remembered some unconfessed sin in his life and how he went to the lounge and fell facedown before God and made it right with God… the idea being that you start a new day with a fresh slate not being burdened or judged by your brokenness or any recent mess you may have been the cause of. And it works. When we allow sin to build up, it is like building a tab at a bar – it gets to the point where it is more natural to say, “Stick it on my tab” than it is to really be grieved by it or want to deal with it. So any time you become aware of sin in your life, or anything breaking intimate relationship with Him then right there and then, or as soon as possible, deal with it, make right and if you need to make right with people too, then do it as soon as you can.

so only 5 minutes of mentoring, but it was completely helpful.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE MENTORS GONE?

for me it has usually been a story of either not recognising any older men in the contexts i am in who i respect in the sense that i would want them mentoring me, or that those people who i have seen with those things  just seeming so incredibly busy with so much other stuff that they would not be suitable candidates. i definitely had a mentor in my earliest youth leading role in terms of helping me lead and grow in confidence and maturity in a lot of leadership related areas, but i think to some extent we had a difference of vision and ethos and so it didn’t feel like the kind of mentoring i imagine, but i am completely grateful for his presence in my life back then and owe a lot to him.

but in the absence physical mentors in terms of men who are older than me pouring into my life it has become a combination of literary mentors [so the influence of passionate men of God like Keith Green and John Wimber and others who spoke into my life through the pages of books], peer mentors [so being co-mentored by good friends of a more similar age or even younger like Sean Du Toit, Bruce Collins, Rob Lloyd, Andy Pitt and i could go on] and also through men like Paul and Peter, David and Moses, and of course Jesus Christ. none of these were formal mentoring relationships, but through watching and listening and late night conversations and hearing stories of and from, these people spoke [and continue to speak] loudly into my life.

‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ [Proverbs 27.6]

i have absolutely loved this verse and i stand by it. if you do not have people in your life who have the invitation to speak honestly [and cause something that feels like a wound cos who likes rebuke ever?] then you are doing yourself an absolute disservice. Rob Lloyd has been one of those voices in my life [his description of me as reminding him of Paul – “passionate yet tactless” – is one that stands strong in my memory] and i have so much love and appreciation towards him for that and taking a quick look over myself, all of those bruises have healed in such a way that i can’t even remember where they were [but the lessons have stuck!]

so be mentored! it is so important – any fool who thinks they can walk this life well by themselves is one. and a good way to start is by asking – is there a man/woman you deeply respect or feel you can learn something from? Ask them if they will have coffee with you once a week, once a month. [hint: pay for it! This is completely something worth investing in – for the price of a regular cup of coffee or breakfast you can have your life revolutionised? seems about right] The worst they can do is say no. [Well, i guess the worst they can do is whip out a swordfish and carve their initials in your face but if that happens it is an indication that they were possibly not the right person to be mentoring you?]

and if you can’t find someone to ask then do what i did in terms of finding mentors and role models elsewhere. be careful not to pedestalise them – the closer you get to those ‘perfect’ people who are so close to God and so good at life, the more flawed you will see them to be, so stay grounded in admiring the Jesus in them and learning from that.

try and be mentored by a diverse crowd. if you are a white male [as i am] and only invite white males to mentor you [through the books you read, music you listen to, preaches you hear] then you are missing out on a whole lot of good life lessoning. invite someone from a different race or culture than your own. from a different gender. from a very different generation. and start with stories – listen to their life, hear lessons they have learned, obstacles they have overcome, failures they have endured and successes they have witnessed and been a part of.

it may not look like you want it to look. but if you are not being mentored it is largely your own fault. do something about it.

and perhaps a great way to start is to find someone who you can mentor, meet with regularly, intentionally pour into… but more of that in my next post…

[And if you have a moment to comment, I would LOVE to hear some stories of people who have mentored you in a way you found helpful]

[To continue to the next part on being a MENTOR, click here]

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