Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Men and Mentors

Ask a successful man the reason for his success and most likely he will point to another man who helped him along the way -- a "mentor" if you will. Captain James T. Kirk had Captain Christopher Pike, Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Robin had Batman. Cal Ripken, Jr. had his dad, George W. Bush had his dad, and I had my Dad. Bob Dylan had Woody Guthrie; Martin Luther had Johann von Staupitz, and Hugo Chavez had Fidel Castro.

While dads are not always that person, many times they are. My Dad is the one who taught, guided, and encouraged me. From lessons on throwing a baseball to running beside my bicycle, from driving a golf ball to driving a nail to driving a manual transmission, from tying a tie to drawing an inside straight, and from knowing when to run and when to fight -- that was my Dad. He's gone now but his lessons remain, and I can't remember the last day he didn't cross my mind.

Perhaps, for you, it wasn't your dad, but I suspect there was some other guy -- your own Mr. Miyagi, who was there for you. You know, like the karate teacher for Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid movies. These guys choose us. They see something in us we don't, and they fan into flame the spark inside. These guys help us navigate life; they are honest and accept no excuses for a second-rate effort. They judge impartially and somehow hold us accountable by pointing out weaknesses and errors. I suspect these guys get a great sense of satisfaction when their student surpasses them. These guys teach not only with their words, but also by example.

There are also those mentors who would be surprised to learn they mentored anyone at all. These mentors are the men we see and admire; we then pattern our life after their example. Often these mentors never even knew they were being observed, but they have a profound influence nonetheless. It's not unusual to combine the traits of men we have witnessed and roll them into our personalities, choosing characteristics we admire and making them ours. For example, I can admire the way my neighbor cares for his lawn, my co-worker plays golf, and how my barber interacts with his customers. I then do what I have seen.

Who was a mentor in your life? Was it your coach, your teacher, your friend, your neighbor, you dad, your boss, your brother, your pastor? Take the time now to e-mail, drop a line, text message, or call them. No gushing "thank you" is needed. Just say hi, and let them know that you remember them. They'll know why.

I also encourage you to be a mentor, especially to a young man in your church, your neighborhood, or your family circle who has no dad. Help him grow and hold him accountable; feed his self-esteem and challenge him to become a strong, confident man.

And here's a challenge that can make all the difference in the world: share Christ with the one you mentor. Teach him not only with your words, but also with your deeds. Live your life so others will want to model you. Be a strong man of Christ -- sinner, yet saint, not perfect, but forgiven -- depending on the grace of God for salvation and always filtering your actions through His Word.


agedwirehead said...

You are truly correct on this post. I have sent thank you notes to several of my mentors over the years. To my surprise, one of these notes was reprinted at my mentor's funeral. What I have not done is inventoried the mentors that I can remember. I found that I was doing this while I was reading your post. The size of this list will be quite extensive.

I feel certain I have survived because men (and some women) chose to assist this child in his struggles.

And thinking more about it, I will need to add the names of Joseph, Paul, Barnabus, Thomas, Peter, James, John, and Jesus, who have all been profound mentors in recent years.

I thank God for each of these great blessings.

Desmond said...

please pray for me to get a mentor, I'm desperate for it!

Rev. Wayne Palmer said...

Desmond, mentors are the people who influence you positively by the things they say and do, their attitude and how they live their lives.

But sometimes the trick is keeping your eyes peeled so you can see them- many of them are all around you- you just have to notice.

At church there should be plenty of mentors- your pastor, and other men in the congregation who aren't afraid to stand up and be leaders.

Hopefully you can find some at work- it could be the boss or supervisor, it could be the quiet guy who keeps his nose to the grind, but leads through his attitude and action. And a few kind words could get him to open up and build that friendship.

Maybe in your neighborhood you can find some good mentors too.

But like agedwirehead said, some of your greatest mentors are waiting for you in the pages of the Bible. Read daily and let the heroes of the faith be your mentor- especially Jesus your Savior.