When my children were young and we found ourselves in a crowded place, they liked to get up on my shoulders to see where we were going. Up high they could observe much more than they could by themselves, and I think they felt a sense of security with my hands firmly holding on to their legs.
Once we become responsible adults it seems like we are expected to be an expert in our profession and in life, and always know what our next step should be. That’s not even in the proximity of reality, is it? You may try to appear to know the score, but there will always be times when you feel like you’re caught in a maze, unable to see the next turn. When those times come, are you willing to seek help or to pursue a mentor? Maybe that’s the “grown up” version of climbing onto someone’s shoulders to get a better view.
My friend Stephen Eggert, a Real Estate Manager for Target, shared about a time earlier in his career, when he felt lost. Several friends and associates encouraged him to have a cup of coffee and connect with an older guy in the industry named Bruce Peterson. Stephen found a true mentor in Bruce, someone with wisdom and life experience; someone who cared; someone who helped him see the world from a different vantage point. Bruce not only imparted the wisdom he needed to navigate professionally, he also provided crucial spiritual guidance. In a short time Stephen found a new life in Christ as well as a mentor who helped him grow in his faith.
One of the beautiful things about their relationship is that it follows an ancient pattern repeated throughout the Bible–seeking direction from someone who is a little farther along on life’s journey. Not someone greater or smarter, necessarily, but someone with more life experience who is willing to walk alongside you for a season.
When Moses was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of God’s calling, Jethro reminded him that he was “not able to do it alone,” and advised him how to make a significant course correction that would help relieve his burdens (Exodus 18:1-27). When Paul was first converted by Christ, everyone was afraid of him and shut him out except Barnabas (whose name means “son of encouragement”). Barnabas “took hold of him” and spoke up for him before the apostles. He also served as Paul’s mentor and ministry partner for many years: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9: 1-31).
Finding a mentor improves your vision and increases your effectiveness. Mentoring others should not drain, but multiply your strength and influence. Are you overwhelmed or confused about what is up ahead? Prayerfully seek someone who is a bit farther down the road of life. Invite them to share a cup of coffee and ask for some counsel about your current circumstances. You might be surprised at what happens next. I hope–at least for a few moments–you will feel like a child sitting on their dad’s shoulders, enjoying the view of a new horizon and the security of a steadying hand.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, thank you for the mentors you have placed in my path. Men who have helped me sort out priorities and perspective and given me wisdom to know how to navigate through life and business dealings. I ask that You continue to provide me what You have chosen, and help me to be a faithful mentor to others.
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Solomon to his son, Proverbs 1:5