I needed help. I needed a mentor. I needed discipleship. Let me start off by saying this…I had the blessing of growing up with two devoted Christ-followers as parents. They led me to salvation, brought me to church, loved me, and cared for me with selflessness and unconditional love. But, a good parent understands that their child needs more than just themselves to continue to grow. When other adults take a spiritual interest in a young person, that additional support goes a long way in their spiritual development. And I had the blessing to have many mentors and adult support (youth pastor, pastors, teachers, youth leaders, and the list goes on) willing to disciple me…I probably needed more than most to get me going in the right direction.
But one particular couple stands out. They had 5 children of their own, so I look back now and am amazed they had so much time to help me. The husband, a sharp man, was never afraid to tell me the truth, and providing sound Biblical advice. The wife was so caring, kind-hearted, and full of grace. You could call them a couple with truth and grace.
When my mom passed away, they constantly opened their home, fed me loaded nachos, and played games with me. They provided a home away from home when I was really hurting. The wife would provide me advice that I needed from a mom including “don’t be kissing till you have a ring”, and filled my belly with additional snacks that I also needed from a mom. The dad would scream laugh at my jokes, listen intently to my stories from the golf course, and be a sounding board for my career aspirations.
But one day stands out. My mom had just passed away in early May, and I needed a suit for my high school graduation. I had no clue. I never had owned a suit in my life, and didn’t know the first place to look. So I asked if this couple would meet me at the mall and give this sad kid some fashion direction. I needed a mom to stop me from picking a leisure suit, and guide me in the right direction.
We met at JCPenney. This couple helped me pick out a solid black suit. A suit I wore to my graduation from high school. A suit I wore to my graduation from college and seminary. It also became the suit that I wore on my first date with their daughter…I think you know where this is going.
This couple was always like a second father and mother to me. Now, they truly are. I fell in love with their daughter after that first date. (And no, I didn’t kiss her until she had the ring!) The mentoring and discipleship that I received in high school, still continues to this day. My father-in- law continued to disciple me as I became the primary caretaker of his daughter, just 5 years after they helped me purchase my first suit.
15 years later, they gave me money for my birthday. And after 15 years, I needed a new suit (the wife/mother-in-law’s daughter also makes a really good loaded nacho – hence needing a new suit). So with the birthday money, I decided to go to JCPenney with my wife and kids, and purchase a new solid black suit. It reminded me of that special day, and the many other days this couple disciple me patiently to help me become a better follower of Jesus.
So, pastors, youth leaders, parents, teachers, friends…what does a mentor look like? What does discipleship look like? It looks a lot like life. A mentor is someone that is willing to sacrifice their time and energy to provide godly wisdom to everyday life. Sure, this couple may have had 300 other things to do that day, but they knew I needed help for an important day. And there had to be times they wanted a quiet night when I rang the doorbell, but the nachos and “take two” game were ready for me every time without a complaint. Life and time. You put those two things together under the precious wisdom of God’s Word, you have discipleship.
Take time to be a mentor. Take time to disciple a younger person, or a younger believer. Treat them like family, because one day they just might be.