“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Sam Levenson
Who do you talk to about life’s hard issues? Most men have no one. We have buddies but rarely do we talk about temptation, lust, pornography, addiction, intimacy issues with the wife, job fears, etc. Most of us regularly ignore them or sweep them under the nearest rug and hope they go away. They don’t.
One of Henry David Thoreau’s most famous quotes is – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. The older I get, the more I believe Henry was right on the money.
Because of our innate ability to “suck it up” and “gut it out”, we tend to internalize problems and issues. That could explain why men typically die sooner than women. The Bible tells us very plainly that life (and warfare) works better when you have a buddy, a trusted comrade or mentor to walk with you. (see below)
A mentor is one who serves as a teacher or model and often provides individualized instruction and encouragement. A mentor is “a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction,” according to the Uncommon Individual Foundation, an organization devoted to mentoring research and training. It reports that mentoring is one of the most powerful tools we have for influencing human behavior.
Think about it – How did you learn most of the things that you know? You were taught by someone else. Someone taught you simple tasks like brushing your teeth or writing your name. Others came along and taught you more complex tasks and skills, like multiplication, hunting/fishing, or how to throw a baseball. We have all had others in our lives who have mentored us along the way. Mentoring has been around for centuries.
Early tradesmen, craftsmen and farmers learned their skills from those who were the best in their town or region. Artists, musicians and educators honed their natural gifting at the feet of mentors. Mentors have been responsible for shaping not only physical skills, but also individual techniques, attitudes, and knowledge.
We were raised watching Hollywood mentors train, challenge and encourage some of our favorite heroes. Who can forget Master Yoda, Gandolf the Grey, Morpheus and the ever-exasperating Mr. Miyagi.
The Bible is full with examples of mentoring: Eli and Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy. And, of course, Jesus and the disciples are a great example.
Finding a mentor may well be the smartest decision you can make regarding your life and your marriage. Someone older and more experienced can offer great wisdom and probably help you avoid many landmines that are in your path. Where else do we learn how life and marriage work? Left to figure it out on our own (our natural inclination) we are left to learn by trial and error. As you know already, this can be a very painful teaching technique.
How do you find one? Easy – pray that God will lead you to one. Look for a man who’s life/marriage you admire, and simply ask him to meet you for breakfast/coffee/lunch/coke, etc.. Just ask him if he would consider getting together with you from time to time to talk about life and marriage.
We all need a Mr. Miyagi in our lives.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 – A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Wax on, wax off.