Some call them mentors. Others call them life coaches. There are others who call them spiritual fathers. Whatever you call them, you need them. I will call them a mentor.
Friday evening, I had the privilege of eating dinner with my mentor and friend, Jim Baxter, who came through Atlanta visiting family. For years, Jim has been the person whom I have been able to confide my fears, tears, successes, victories, and failures. Through some of my toughest challenges in ministry, he has been there to guide and provide wisdom. Through my best times in my life, Jim has been there to cheer me on.
Everyone needs someone who has walked through more days on earth than you have who can provide guidance to life's most difficult problems. To some, it is their father or mother or a teacher or pastor. Whoever it may be, every leader needs a mentor. Some learn from lessons taught. Some learn from lessons caught. From Jim, I learned some things by what he taught me verbally and I also caught many things from the way he walked. Today, many of my 'philosophies' about life and ministry come from the things I learned from the many times we spent together.
It is sad to talk to leaders and hear them talk about their mentors. Some don't have anyone including even within their own organization. Others claim their mentors are someone who is well known in their field. They possess their tapes, CDs, and books, but they will never be able to possess their time. If you can never just casually call and set up a time to meet, they can never be your mentor.
If you don't have a person who you can call a mentor, pray for one. God knows our needs and desires. I believe mentors are provided by the Spirit of God. God knows the right educators who have been trained in certain areas of life to pour into upcoming leaders. If you are in a local church, immediately turn to a leader in your small group or on the leadership staff of your church. Your pastor should be a great example of one whom you can lean to for guidance and wisdom. Don't be surprised if it is not, but it is one of the senior adults who sit quietly during services and doesn't socialize much. On the contrary, he is one who is a plethora wisdom and knowledge.
Pray for a mentor and have faith knowing that God knows what you need. If you have a mentor, thank God he has provided an person for your life who can assist you in your leadership and calling. And to the mentors out there who just pour and pour, thank you. And finally, to Jim, thanks again for everything.