Gaining Wisdom through a Mentor

When I was in college I began to read and study about what made for a strong family.   I wanted to reach my potential as a husband and as a father.   While I had an incredible example in my own father I needed to make sure that I was doing everything I could to not mess it up.

For example, concerning parenting I read the book of Proverbs and looked for principles about raising children.   Wherever I found a responsibility of the parent I underlined the verse and initialed a “P” beside it; whenever there was a responsibility of the child I wrote a “C” beside it.

I went to the school library in my free time and read books that dealt with marriage and family life.   There weren’t a glut of books on the topic in the mid-70’s, like there are now.   Though I wasn’t engaged I was serious and desperate about learning everything I could about what the Bible taught about family life.    After all, He designed the family unit and tells us how it is to function.

The Bible states that one of the fundamental keys to building a strong home concerns the wife and mother.   And one of the primary characteristics that gives her such influence is wisdom.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  (Proverbs 14:1)   Notice that it is a “wise” woman that makes the difference.

So, how does a lady cultivate God’s wisdom?   

One of the ways is mentoring.  It is a popular subject today, but it was taught in the Bible thousands of years ago.   While discipleship and mentoring are not the same and have their own distinctives, the general principle of both is given in the following text.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”    (II Timothy 2:2) 

There is a chain of influence mentioned in this verse: “thou” (Timothy), “me” (Paul), “faithful men”, and “others”.    This spiritual chain began with Paul and through his discipleship/mentoring it resulted in a multi-generational impact in his own lifetime.

You, too, can trace your own spiritual heritage to some degree.   Part of passing the baton includes mentoring which results in a growth of wisdom.   You ought to be receiving a baton of wisdom and passing one on, all at the same time.

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”   (Proverbs 13:20)    We cannot give what we do not have.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction”.   (John C. Crosby)

Dick Vannoy, we served together on a church staff in Virginia. He spoke into my life about the nuts and bolts about management and leadership. I am indebted to him.

Older, spiritually mature women have a responsibility to mentor younger women and those that are younger have a responsibility to seek mentors.

“The aged women…may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”   (Titus 2:3-5)

The above Scriptures list some of the issues where younger women need encouragement and instruction to become who God wants them to be.

While these topics can be covered in a Bible study or small group class at church, the context and intent of the passage concerns a personal mentoring-type role.   A place where much of the learning occurs in the ebb and flow of life though a lens of experience rather than going through a strict curriculum.

The writer states that failure to do so results in reproach upon God’s name – “that the word of God be not blasphemed”.    Much of the erosion of the Christian home and the accompanying mocking from those that reject God’s Word is due to a lack of personal mentoring.

As a grandfather I am to pass on to my grandchildren what others have deposited into my life. It is a stewardship I take seriously.

What should we do?

Be a mentor.   If you are older and have walked with the Lord longer than someone else then you have some things to share with them.   Sometimes it involves things that didn’t work.  Don’t allow the feeling of I don’t have anything to offer to prohibit your investing in others.

The motivation is to instruct those behind you so that they might not make the same mistakes or might grow at a more rapid pace than you did.   This is one of the joys of investing in people!

Find a mentor.   Everyone should have mentors in their lives.   Do you have someone to go for advice and help?   It is not always a close friendship, but someone whom you respect because they have had positive progress in areas where you lack.

It is important that they have enjoyed some degree of success in that area. One cannot give what they do not have.

If you want wisdom replace watching television, surfing the web, burning through Netflix episodes and invest that time with a godly mentor.    Ask them to have coffee somewhere.   Come prepared with some questions.

This isn’t a counseling session, but a time to pick their brain and to discover solutions.   Again, a close friendship may not result from it, but you will gain some incredible insights if you will take the initiative.

Dr. Les Ollila, one of the wisest men I know. I learned, and still learn, so much about spiritual leadership and practical living from him. A great man.

When our first child was born we lived in another state away from our families and rarely saw our parents.   My wife had several older ladies in our church that were good friends and she found sound advice from them in what to do with a newborn    That can be a trying time for a new mother.    These ladies were a blessing to us!   They have no idea how much their mentoring helped Paula.

I did the same thing with men that were older and wiser.   I remember teenagers in our youth ministry that were stellar and I thought I want to have children like that.  One day I went to the father and asked him a few questions about how they had developed some of the positive characteristics I saw in his boys.   On the spot he invited Paula and me to their home for a meal and that was one of the topics we discussed.   I learned some helpful things that night.

He and his wife became our mentors though the word “mentor” was never used.  I just knew they had some experience and knowledge that we didn’t have, but we wanted.   The interesting thing is that when we went to their home, we didn’t have any children.   I was hungry to learn before the opportunity and responsibility was ours.

One of my professors in college is a mentor to me.   I still call him on the phone occasionally with questions and he graciously helps me.   He is in his mid-90’s now.    For over forty years he has been speaking into my life.

Dr. Wymal Porter, one of my professors in my Bible classes in college. An incredible teacher and one whom I still call for counsel and help.

You can learn from people that have passed on!   Read great books and learn from people that are wiser than you.   Let them become your mentors even though they are gone.

“…he being dead yet speaketh.”   (Hebrews 11:4)

You will become what you spend time with and focus on.

Occasionally we have have young couples approach us concerning their marriage and parenting. We get together and tell them the good, the bad and the ugly.    Of course, we never betray personal matters within our family or our children, but honesty must be part of a mentoring conversation.

How about you, my friend?

Who is mentoring you?

Who are you mentoring?

When was the last time you went to someone that was faster, quicker, smarter, more experienced and you asked them for advice?

Do you read books that will help you?    Someone said, “The person the will not read is no better off than the person that cannot read”. 

Dr. Lloyd Smith, he was the music director in my church when I was young. Humanly speaking, he is one of the reasons I am in the ministry today.

I turned 60 this past year.   I walk slower and I get tired a lot quicker than I did ten years ago.   But my spirit still burns bright for Christ, I know more about life than I ever have, and I love deeper and broader than when I was younger.   I don’t want to waste what the Lord has given to me, even my failures.

Recently I wrote down a list of names of some younger men in our church that I wanted to spend some extended time with to pour some of these things into their hearts, if they so desire.   It would be one of the best uses of my time as a Pastor.

My son called me the other night after returning from a short vacation with his family.   He told me about a book that he had read.   He said, “Dad, I remember that you told me that you tried to read this book every year and so I thought I would read it again, too”.   He shared that I had given him the book and inscribed a note in the front and put the date under the note.   I gave it to him when he was 13 years old.    Now he is reading it in his 30’s.   And the beat goes on.

Mom and Dad, let’s be faithful to mentor our children first, but let’s also mentor those that are behind a bit in terms of knowledge.   And, for the sake of our marriage and children, let’s find some good mentors.    It’s an essential if we are to have wisdom.

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About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 39 years with seven children and eight grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Family Issues, mentor, mentoring, wisdom and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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