Years ago, on a particularly rainy Sunday morning, my dad and I had a difficult time getting to church. As we worked our way to church through beating rain, we had the sense that oars would have been more useful than tires! When we finally got to church, we found two long tire tracks in the grass next to the building. One of the leading men in the church had tried to drive his car close to the building to let out his passengers…and got stuck! Warning:Before you wag your finger at him too badly, understand he has a big heart for Christ and a love for people. The church had recently installed a French drain, right under the spot he parked. That, coupled with the heavy rains, left the ground very soft. Needless to say, he sank deep into the soaked earth. Try as he might, he could not get out of the mud without help. A tow truck bill and a lot of laughs later (and many by himself), he got his car into a parking spot at the church.
Sometimes our lives can be like that car. We feel sunk down in mud. We make attempts to get out, but our efforts only cause us to spin our tires in the mud. Our attempts to break free from the muddy depths leave us exhausted, frustrated, and depending on where you stand, dirty.
This can be true in our spiritual lives as well. We gain no traction and instead of freedom we just sling mud around. We improve in no particular area of our Christian walk. Our relationships with others are marginal, rocky, and sometimes nonexistent. Our home lives are marked by periods of struggle and conflict. We wake up tired, stay tired throughout the day, and end up going to bed tired. We get up on Sunday morning and we hope that something will happen when we go to church. We attend Sunday School and worship; we sing songs and listen to sermons, then go home. But nothing changes. Are you tired of spinning your tires in the mud?
You need a mento
Perhaps what is missing in your life is a coach. I have men in my life who are my mentors—coaches who speak into my life. They are men whom I can call, text, or meet for coffee, and they will be honest with me. I share my spiritual struggles, they in turn give honest, biblical feedback. They tell me what I need to hear, not necessarily what I want. Here are some good ground rules for having a solid mentor-coach in your life.
1. Select someone you trust
Finding solid mentors is essential. So take your time in doing this. Ask individuals who are both willing and who can be trusted to hold what you say in confidence. A mentor ought to be someone you highly respect, someone with exceptional character, someone with whom you know the Holy Spirit is deeply at work. If your best friend is know for making bad decisions, then he or she is not the person you are seeking. Remember, you are looking for someone who can share biblical insight into your life, so find someone who is grounded in their faith.
2. Same sex relationships
This is so important. you don’t want to go wrong on this point—men should be mentored by men, and women by women. When you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to the input and feedback of others, the last thing you want to do is to open the door for improper relationships to foster. Too many think, “I can handle this,” only to find themselves making choices that ruin their lives and their witness. But such downfalls can be avoided by simply limiting your personal counselors to someone from the same gender.
3. Allow others permission to to speak
Once you have selected a mentor, give them permission to speak into your life. By this I mean they need to know that you are willing to hear what they have to say. If you are not prepared to listen to their insight , then you are wasting their time and yours. This is not a gripe session, but a faith-building season. So make sure you take full advantage of it by allowing those who invest their time into your life the benefit of actively listening to what they say. Trust me, it won’t always be easy, but it is worth it. God will use these individuals to open your eyes to your blind spots—and ultimately tear them down!
4. Respect the relationship
When you find someone who is willing to be a mentor to you, that is a special thing. Treat that relationship with care. Respect the time that they give you. Don’t bring every little thing before then, and don’t just bombard them with things throughout the week. In other words, blowing up their phone with insanely long texts is not the answer. Here is a good tip that one of my mentors gave me. Make a list of the things you need to discuss. When you meet, go quickly through the list. Show then that you value their time by coming prepared for the meeting. As your mentor shares insight over what you have brought, listen carefully. Perhaps more important than coming organized and prepared is coming prepared to hear more than speak.
5. Take action
When it is all said and done, take action on the things that you and your mentor discuss. Don’t just rant for 45 minutes about a problem. Every time you meet, identify one or two areas that you can work on before you meet again. In the interim, work on those one or two hot issues. You may not fully complete the task before you meet again (depending on the complexity of the issue and how often you meet). Be sure to give an update to your mentor. As you do this, you will begin to see the amount of spiritual progress you are making, and so will they.
You will get stuck in the mud from time to time. The question is how long will you stay there? How long will it be before you reach out to some for help? My prayer for you is that you will find someone to serve as a mentor for you. Do you know someone who is solidly grounded in their walk with Christ? Do they spend regular time in God’s Word? Do they have a reputation for making good choices? Are they a person of integrity? Then perhaps this is such a person to whom you could approach, asking them to consider cultivating a mentor relationship with you. Ask God for such a person to come into your life.