I was surprised when Laura, my oldest child, wanted to take me to lunch. While at our favorite Mexican food restaurant, Laura and I made small talk, visited about the weather and school, and then she asked me how I was doing.
I gave my standard response: “I am fine.”
She was not satisfied with my answer, so she pressed me. I went on to tell her that I had been thinking a lot lately about losing both of my parents in a short period of time. I explained that work had been tough, and I did not feel like I had much control over my life. She seemed content with my response, so I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then she totally changed the subject. She asked if I was investing in anyone in a mentor/discipleship relationship. I told her I was spending time with a couple of guys at Pine Cove and another guy in Dallas. She asked if I was keeping up with some of the dads from Family Camp, and I told her I was.
Tears were brought to my eyes when she said, “I am so proud of you, Dad.” I beamed. My adult daughter was proud of me!
She went on to ask if anyone was investing in me. I mentioned a man, and she asked when I had last met with him. As it turns out, it had been almost 15 months. In a not-so-subtle way she said, “I don’t think that is much of a mentor relationship if you never meet with him. Dad, you cannot truly invest in someone else if no one is investing in you.”
After that statement, she asked me if I remembered an incident from earlier in the summer. “Dad, do you remember the problem we had with our lawn mower earlier this summer, when it quit working and you found all that gunk in the fuel filter?” I told her yes. She then asked if I remembered what the problem was. I said, “Yes, we went to get gas at a local gas station, and as it turns out, we were getting the dregs from the bottom of an empty gas tank.”
She went on, “Dad, you can’t give if your spiritual fuel tank is empty.”
I sat there speechless. She was absolutely correct. In many ways, I was giving those around me the gunk in my spiritual tank.
I thanked her for her wise counsel and then went back to work.
A few days later, I began to pray for who I would ask to mentor me. Two guys came to mind. I called the first, and he responded, “Why would you want to meet with me?”
I thought, Well, if you do not know why I would want to meet with you, then you’re probably not the one I should meet with.
So I called the next guy, and he was very excited to meet.
That was two years ago, and I cannot begin to tell you how much I have grown and how much more effective I have been able to minister to and mentor others.
After realizing my need for a mentor, I quizzed about 100 guys about the subject of mentoring. It was amazing to learn that out of those 100 guys, only 15 had someone investing in them and those 15 were each investing in another person.
Ironically, the Bible tells us to “‘Go therefore and make disciples …’” (Matthew 28:19a), yet the church leaders, pastors, and camp guys I quizzed were not involved in a discipleship relationship at all.
I asked a deeper question, “Why not?” I expected the issue to be time. Instead, the answer was an unwillingness to be that vulnerable with someone about what was going on in their lives. Additionally, many admitted it was spiritual pride.
All of us should find someone more mature in the Christian life to invest in us and likewise should find someone who is younger in the faith and impact them, too.
Swallow your pride and find someone to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
I did—and it was great.
Mario Zandstra is president and CEO of Pine Cove Christian Camps, in Tyler, Texas