For the next several posts, I want to share with you what I call “the marks of a mentor.” These are the characteristics I have discovered in individuals who leave a positive, lasting impression on the lives of others.
I’ve already introduced you to two of my mentors in my two previous posts. These men, among a number of others, have permanently marked my life by the presence of their lives. Not just their words. Their lives.
The first mark of a mentor? They are caring. They get up-close and personal in the lives of those they influence and guide.
The apostle Paul was like that.
We tend to think of Paul as a writer of doctrines and great letters. We think of Paul as a preacher. Even a tent-maker. But all of these served a higher purpose . . . especially toward his fellow-believers. Paul was a mentor.
Paul lived in Corinth with Aquila and his wife Priscilla for a year and a half (see Acts 18:1–11). Can you imagine Paul living in your house? What a privilege!
Now, don’t misunderstand. A mentor has involvements that go beyond time with those individuals he or she is mentoring. Paul had more to do than sit around and talk about spiritual things with Aquila and Priscilla. He worked as a tent-maker and also spent time in Corinth evangelizing Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came to town, Paul carved out time to devote to those long-time friends. But what stands out to me is when Paul found this married couple, he came to them, and he moved in with them. He came up close and personal. He cared.
Let me amplify that truth for you as a pastor. A mentor doesn’t keep his distance. He doesn’t operate in an aloof or secretive manner. The door to his study is rarely closed. He opens his life . . . he doesn’t run and hide. He pays attention to little things in the lives of others. He takes a personal interest in their areas of concern and need . . . for encouragement and improvement. He passes along helpful and practical techniques because he stays up close and personal.
A caring mentor isn’t afraid to mention his own failures or pass along lessons he’s learned the hard way. Every mentor I’ve had has always told me stories of failures, faults, flaws, struggles . . . the things they’ve learned the hard way. We learn to do that from our mentors who come up close and personal.
Only when you open up your own life do you earn the trust to be heard. You can’t do that from a distance. You’ll never do that on a CD or on a tape or online. You can’t do that over the phone or in a pulpit. You have to do it face-to-face, up close and personal.
Why? Because you care.