Back in the 1950’s, when I was young, I remember going to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Port Arthur to make rounds with my dad. The hospital rule was that you had to be at least 12 to go up to the patient rooms, so I got to sit with the switchboard operator and watch her answer calls and connect them to the correct person. I loved doing this and thought it was fascinating. These trips with Dad, and simply that he wanted me to go with him, were so fun and created some wonderful memories. They extended into my teenage years, when I was able to accompany him not just for patient rounds, but also for ER trips. Not surprisingly, these were the experiences through which I first developed my love for the medical profession and realized early on that I wanted to be a nurse. One particularly vivid memory was the day my dad allowed me to follow him into surgery and observe him as he worked. I was intrigued with the entire process until I saw the first cut and the blood that came with it. Later, when I was taking anatomy and physiology at Lamar University, the summer after graduating from high school, Dad arranged for me to observe an autopsy. To this day I can certainly tell you about that inside look at the human brain! As I have so often considered my dad’s desire to be a mentor and a role model for me, I have appreciated the importance of the whole concept of mentoring in our lives. My dad’s example of caring and dedication continues to inspire me as I have grown older. He was one of a past generation of physicians who made house calls, delivered babies, and did surgery, all the while running a full office clinic with x-ray and lab, and functioning as the South County coroner, as well as company physician to both a Texaco and a Jefferson Chemical plant. All this in a day when some of his patients paid him with purple hull peas, and others were unable to pay him at all!
Both of my parents were Christians and modeled reading the Bible and church attendance, but they also lived their faith out in their everyday lives. When I think of them, I realize that they were average parents, but what set them apart was that they were committed to raising, training, and guiding their children to love the Lord and to fulfill our God-given plan for our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) Paul instructs the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” The critical element in mentoring is to build up and encourage the mentee. I love to recall the encouragement I received from my dad. He would say, “You study all week before your exam and then you can go out to the movie the night before when your classmates have to study.” He would also say, “Look at that Joe Blow next to you–if he can do it, you can do it.” His encouragement continued during those tough early semesters of my nursing classes in Austin when he would faithfully write me a long letter every single week, full of reassurance and news.
Mentors are wise and trusted counselors that walk alongside their mentees, setting an example of how to live out God’s purpose for their lives. Gotquestions.com answers a question that perhaps you, too, have wondered: “Should a Christian be involved in mentoring?” In other words, is mentoring a biblical injunction? Their explanation defines the word mentor as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher,” and while they admit that the actual word mentoring doesn’t appear in the Bible, they point out that “Scripture does give us numerous examples of mentoring. Moses was mentored by his father-in-law Jethro, first as son-in-law and then as a leader (Exodus 18). The mentoring relationship between Eli and Samuel prepared Samuel for the tasks and responsibilities that were his after Eli’s death (1 Samuel 1–4). Jesus mentored His disciples (Luke 9), and both Barnabas and Paul excelled in mentoring (Acts 9–15).” Another example in Titus ,that is personal to me, explains that an older more experienced woman should be a teacher of younger women. “They must teach what is good, in order to train the younger women” (Titus 2:3 GNT). So, to answer that question, I think we’d have to say that a Christian could hardly do anything more important than mentoring others in the practical living out of a godly life in all its various arenas.
I have had the privilege of observing my husband mentor many men. He has shared his experience and wisdom freely. In the military, in church relationships, and in his work, he received guidance and encouragement as well. Additionally, I have had many people in my life who were role models and took the time to encourage me and teach me in my Christian walk, in the Word of God, in my schooling, and in my work. My mother faithfully prayed for me and was my best cheerleader. I remember her saying, “I am praying for you that you know all the answers on the test.” Now, that is a woman of faith! What a blessing it is to have a wise advocate, one you can trust and rely on for godly wisdom about life. I hope and pray that you have wise counsel in your life. No matter what your age or stage in life, seek out godly relationships and actively share the wisdom that God has given you. “For wisdom is better than rubies; And all desirable things cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11 AMP).
“The wise will hear and increase their learning, And the person of understanding will acquire wise counsel and the skill [to steer his course wisely and lead others to the truth]” (Proverbs 1:5 AMP).
Dear Holy Father, I thank you for the people in my life who have encouraged me and guided me. I praise you for people who take the time to show Your love in truly clear examples of godly wisdom. I praise you, Lord Jesus Christ, and God our Father, for You have “loved us and by Your grace given us eternal encouragement and good hope… [now] encourage our hearts and strengthen us in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.