By Mark Lubbock
Whenever treasure is mentioned, people instantly think of imaginative ways to use it to improve their lives. Be it selfish wants or earnest needs, a treasure is envisioned as the answer to obtain what they desire.
However, if the treasure is hidden it is of no benefit to anyone.
Locating the treasure
What would you say if I told you that sitting right in front of me, you, the church and communities is a vast, unbelievably valuable treasure just waiting to be found? This treasure can deliver a much-needed course correction for the entire nation. Moreover, it contains life-transforming potential for all who employ this treasure.
The treasure of which I speak of is wisdom.
Born out of a lifetime of personal experience, wisdom is the culmination of what works and what fails. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines wisdom as:
1: the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : INSIGHT
a: good sense : JUDGMENT
b: generally accepted belief
c: accumulated philosophical or scientific learning : KNOWLEDGE
2: a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3: the teachings of the ancient wise men
The NRSV Bible has 342 entries regarding wisdom. In fact, the entire suite of Proverbs is called “Wisdom Writings,” offering Godly do-and-don’t advice.
Where exactly then can this wisdom be found?
If you doubt me, ask yourself, “Have I ever questioned the actions of a younger man when I knew of a far better way to respond?”
Maybe you didn’t think these exact words, but you know what I am talking about. Watching someone do things in a way that you know does not work, you instantly think of advice you’d like to give to the young man.
Share the treasure
The truth is you have a lifetime of experience that should be shared.
Personal interests, career experience, hobbies, talents, skills all come into play here.
An individual may have great potential, but that potential may not be realized if there is no one to mentor him, and the person does not know how to develop it.
It takes a gemologist to see the possibilities in an uncut diamond, and if is cut incorrectly, a potential thousand-dollar gem may become worthless.
Young men want to succeed, but many of them lack the necessary wisdom and knowledge to achieve success.
Answers to questions regarding marriage, career, child-rearing, self-worth, and purpose elude younger men. They are hungry for an experienced man to share insights with them.
How to mentor?
You might reasonably state, “I don’t know how to mentor anyone, and I am not qualified for this.”
Mentorships does not require the ability to quote chapter and verse of the Bible. Instead it just asks that you take an interest in a younger man and be willing to share parts of your life.
More questions arise of course, like “Where do I find these young men?”
No one is probably knocking on your door asking for your wisdom.
Like all good discipling processes, this approach does require a little preparation. In the past this process was a natural outcome of the way we once lived. Grandparents used to live nearby and actively engaged with their families.
While mom and dad were still building their lives, grandparents had both the time and wisdom to share with grandkids. Many of you have great memories of times spent with grandparents and likely remember specific things they taught you.
Our family structure today has moved away from the nuclear family and several generations have now grown up without benefit of this mentoring.
Who to mentor?
I offer you a new approach––one that will lead you through a process of identifying interested young men and how to connect with them. You’ll learn how to share your life’s experience and wisdom.
Throughout the years I’ve taught men about a Cord- of-Three-Strands, a principle which states that you must have a 1) Paul; 2) Barnabas, and 3) Timothy in your spiritual life –– 1) a mentor with whom you meet; 2) a peer with whom you do Christian life; and 3) a young man that you mentor.
Let’s concentrate on the man you mentor.
What has worked for me over the years is to approach younger men in church and even a coffee shop. I introduce myself if we’re meeting for the first time and I ask if he would like to get together for a meal or coffee.
It starts off just that simply. Sometimes they beg off, but more often the young man will agree to meet. When we get together, I have a couple basic topics that I bring up to encourage the young man to share his interests and life.
The purpose is not to teach, but first to listen.
I don’t come with an agenda of things to tell the young man to do, I meet him where he lives at the minute.
Jesus met Zacchaeus while he was a sinful tax collector sitting high up in a tree. Then Jesus went to his home to build a relationship.
Likewise, we meet men where they are and learn about their lives. As we get to know one another, trust will slowly build. Trust absolutely must be in place before wisdom can be received.
Building that relationship means regular, short meetings or times together. It could be over coffee, but just as easily while repairing a car, golfing, or hiking. When you prove to be a good listener, and not one who responds with a quick fix to everything, the young man will begin to trust and open up.
You will find that by listening you’ve earned the privilege of sharing bits of your life that might relate to the young man’s life.
Mentoring is encouragement
Don’t tell him what to do –– that is for his coach. Mentoring is encouraging the other to work through his life. Sharing your personal experience should be neither pushy nor offensive. Your wisdom and experience won’t always land, but often you’ll find that it does connect.
For many years I’ve reached out to young men in this manner. I’ve constantly had one to three men with whom I meet weekly. Usually, after 18-36 months, they are ready to move on and another will take their place. In every instance we’ve formed a life-long relationship and stay in contact.
The last thing any of us want to do is to take our experience (and our wisdom) to the grave. You and I have much to share, and there is a huge audience eager to receive. Give this a try more than once or twice, and you will be wonderfully surprised at what develops