Sometimes, life is complicated. This can be increasingly true for followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus don’t merely wander aimlessly through the flow of life; we attempt to bring our lives under the rule of our King. This means we put much thought, prayer, and effort into the way we live and also the decisions we make. When it comes to thinking and praying about life, things are messy at times. If you’re like me, you are inclined to over-analyzing and indecision. Perhaps like me, you struggle with living a life that is God-honoring. Every day I am trying to find direction and make decisions to honor God. When contemplating the nature of the Christian life, I am driven to the conclusion that I wasn’t created by God to go through these things alone. In last week’s blog, Trey Brunson told us that one relationship we needed in our lives was that of a disciple. This week, we turn the tables on ourselves. Not only should we invest in the lives of others, but we need an older, wiser person to invest in us. We need a mentor. We need someone who has been in our shoes before. At times, we need someone to reassure and encourage us and at other times, we need someone to look us in the eye and tell us that we are wrong. Here are three key reasons you and I need mentors.
We’re not as smart as we think we are
Frankly, all too often, I think I’m a genius. Whether you care to admit it or not, I would wager you think highly of your own ability to make good decisions as well. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t think they are “right” most of the time, including myself. We overestimate our ability to make wise decisions in life. Unchecked, this can lead to serious trouble. The book of Proverbs has much to say about those of us who trust in our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 gives us a positive command in regards to living and making decisions: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 26:12 puts it more bluntly for those of us who are stubborn: “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Just for safe measure, we will also include Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many counselors they succeed.” In these verses, we learn one simple lesson: Do not rely on yourself. We are to trust God, remain humble, and always consider the wisdom of the people around us. Without mentors, pride will go unchecked and costly decisions might be made.
Our hearts can be deceiving
I also admit that I desire a lot of things. In fact, I probably spend most of my life trying to obtain those desires. While all of us fight against the desires of our flesh, I am mostly speaking about desires that aren’t necessarily sinful. Maybe you want a new job, or maybe you want a relationship with someone you care for. These are not inherently sinful desires; in fact, they are good desires that glorify God. The hard part of being a sinner is that even our good desires can be hijacked with the wrong motives. There have been many times in my life that I have wanted a good thing with less than honorable motives. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the human heart is “deceitful above all things.” My sinful heart can skew my motivations. We tend to make decisions based on how we “feel,” which means I need someone in my life who can ask me probing questions. I need a mentor who can call my bluffs and help me see past my own biases. I need a wise man that has been in my position to confront me with the word of God so that my heart can be revealed.
We need examples
All of us need to hear the preaching of God’s word. We desperately need great teachers, but we also need examples. It’s just not enough to be told to do something; we need to be shown how to do it. In my life, I desire to be a faithful husband, friend, and church leader. I have read many books and heard many lectures on these subjects, but I desperately need an older man to model these things for me. I need to see how a man who has been married longer than me treats his wife and serves her. I need to see a faithful pastor model for me what it’s like to shepherd and care for the church. The same goes for you. No matter if you are male or female, 15 or 55, you need a positive example that you can look to and model your life after. Every one of us needs a person in our lives that can say along with Paul, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Getting a mentor
For those of us who don’t currently have mentors, what is the best approach to finding one? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply identify a person that you want to be like as a Christian. Ask them to lunch or coffee, and try to establish some type of regular pattern of meeting. Be sure to ask them questions about their own life and ask for advice. I have a feeling that if this is the type of person you are trying to model your life after, they won’t have any issue spending time with you or investing in you.
Do yourself a favor and find a mentor. We are too unwise, too sinful, and too stubborn to go through this life without having someone to rely on and keep us in check!