Some were family and some were friends, but each one invested something different into my life.
My first cousin mentored me. He was three months older than I and was the third born of my mother’s sister. He and his family lived a stone’s throw from my maternal grandparents who farmed for a living. Actually, my grandmother, Grandmammy as we called her, took care of the house and yard and fished in her spare time while Pappy farmed.
Since my cousin and I were so close in age, we enjoyed playing together when I visited my grandparents. My cousin knew all about farm life, which included hunting and fishing. He hunted squirrel, deer, quail, dove, and rabbit and fished on the Santee River. He taught me the difference between a doe’s track and a buck’s. He showed me how to lead a dove when I shot at it. He also taught me a lot about hogs, which our grandfather raised. He and I remain good friends to this day.
Ken also poured into me. He was the younger brother of my best friend during high school. Ken knew a good bit about the mechanics of vehicles because his father had mentored him. He taught me how an engine functions and about the different parts of a car. While what he taught me doesn’t do much for me now—due to advancements in computer technology—the knowledge served me well then and saved me money. Sadly, I lost contact with Ken.
Later, Mike came along. I worked with Mike after I graduated from high school. His dad farmed, and Mike had taken up the occupation on the side. Some Saturdays, I’d ride to his house and help him farm. I loved farm life. Perhaps because both of my grandfathers had been farmers. Mike taught me how to drive a tractor, along with many other practical things. It seemed he knew how to do just about everything. A regular jack of all trades whom I envied. Although miles separate us now, Mike and I still talk or text regularly.
Dad was the first to explain this truth in-depth to me when I was a nine-year-old boy. He took me into his home study, drew a diagram—showing me on one side, God on the other, and the cross in the middle—explained what Jesus had done on the cross, and asked if I’d like to receive Him into my life. I did.
As important as these three mentors were in my early life (two still are), none of what they taught me compared to the spiritual mentoring I received from teachers, parents, and grandparents. They taught me life-changing … eternity-changing … information. That if I believed in Jesus Christ and asked Him to forgive my sins, I could go to heaven when I died.
Lois and Eunice had done this type of mentoring for young Timothy. “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1:5 NLT). When Paul came along, he continued the process. Timothy became his son in the faith.
God wants all of us to do a little mentoring. Doing so entails one of the main reasons He put us here: for relationships. He wants us to pour the story of His love into others, but we don’t have to stop there. We can show them how to live obediently, how to trust God in the hard times (like during a pandemic), how to grow spiritually, and how to do practical “unspiritual” things that will make their lives easier.
God sends people for us to pour His love into and for us to share our experiences with. Let’s not waste the opportunities.