When I was 8 years old, my mother tells me that I came home one day from Catholic Sunday School saying that I wanted to be a priest. In thinking through this statement today, I believe the reason behind this were two fold. On the one hand, I saw how much respect and reverence the priests received from people and I wanted that because I longed to be respected by my parents and peers. I was drawn to their positional authority. On the other hand, maybe in that moment this 8 year old Chinese boy actually caught a glimpse of God’s calling on my life. Though today I am not a Catholic priest, I am God’s missionary. But, oh what a long and winding road I have journeyed. Maybe on that day so long ago with the utterance of my words the devil began to do all he could to stop any sort of burgeoning hope or purpose that sought to get planted within my heart and life.
Growing up, I was a very sensitive child with a heart that longed to be held and kept safe. I longed for security in every way. I wanted to know that I was loved and accepted: to be reassured that no matter what, I’d be OK. This was especially important when racial slurs began from the neighborhood kids. But, I was caught between two cultures. A Chinese culture that believes: “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Pretty self explanatory, the one who makes noise gets reprimanded. And a American culture that believes: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Meaning, the one who makes enough noise gets the attention. I was trapped in a valley between two seemingly insurmountable mountains. What I needed was a mentor to guide me along. Someone who understood my dilemma and could help me to navigate between the two cultures. I think that’s why I love to mentor people. Through building into the next generation, I get the opportunity to give to others what I so desperately needed by sharing not only the life wisdom I’ve gained, but also all the good that God has redeemed in me. It’s like I get to be a SIGNpost to others pointing towards the horizon of redemption on “the narrow road that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14).
Mentoring to me is one of those non-negotiable in life. Ideally, our earthly father should be the first one to be speaking truth and life into us. But, more often than not they fall short which is understandable, no body’s perfect. That’s why we need to be constantly seeking out others to mentor us. People who are concerned about building character and integrity into us while helping us grow emotionally and spiritually. Most of the mentoring I do would fall under the banner of spiritual direction which is a holistic approach to mentoring which includes counseling, discipleship, accountability, empowering and equipping, but leans heavily on spirituality. Jesus spent three years actively mentoring His disciples both through teaching and modeling. I like how Paul puts it, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Mentors should always lead by example. But, mentoring isn’t so much about duplicating yourself, it’s more about helping another be more fully themselves through you. It’s about partnering with Holy Spirit in solidifying and clarifying a person’s identity in Christ.
As I am writing this, I’m realizing that I am currently between mentors which means I need to start praying for a mentor to enter into my life. Whenever I seek to begin mentoring someone, I will always put it before the Lord and ask Him if it is time for me to take on another mentee and who that person may be. There are so many people whom I could be mentoring, that’s why I leave it up to the Lord to decide the person I’m to build into. He has never steered me wrong and I trust He never will. So, when I seek a mentor, I pray. Because the kind of mentor I’m looking for is a praying one. Someone who has one ear towards heaven (towards Holy Spirit) and one towards earth (towards me). Someone who is willing to take the time to come alongside me and who isn’t afraid to speak Truth and Life into me. Who do you know that could use a mentor? Do you?