This past week, one of my mentors passed away. He helped me with spiritual guidance and guidance for life for almost 20 years. He was caring, he listened, and he spoke from the heart from a foundation deeply laid with biblical wisdom.
One time, I heard someone ask him a question about growing old. He responded by saying that he was glad to grow old. He then shared that he was also glad to look old. While many people try to remove their wrinkles, re-grow their hair, or look like they did in their prime through surgeries or other means, he noted that looking old was to be respected. In Scripture, gray hair is a sign of wisdom. Those who have wrinkles and gray hair have lived through enough heartache, trial, and tribulation to share a thing or two.
In Titus 2, Paul gives advice for older men and women as to how they can mentor the younger men and women in the church.
He states: “2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.“
Mentors are to be good thinkers, they are to be dignified–meaning that their actions speak well of their character, they are to refrain from letting their impulses get the best of them, and they are to be consistent or unwavering in their beliefs. Older men should help train younger men in the church and older women should help train younger women.
Of course mentoring is important in vocation, family rearing, education, athletics, and even in hobbies.
As I think about the mentors I have had over the years I am reminded that we are never too old to seek advice from others. We are also never to good to need advice from others. Whether someone has been a Christian for 10 days or 25 years, there is still room to grow in the faith and still a need to learn from those who are more experienced.
As you reflect on Thanksgiving, on time spent with family and friends, think also about those who have guided you along the path. Think about those who have shared stories to help you make wise choices. Think about those who have come beside you to teach you a better or more efficient way of doing things.
Think about what you appreciate about your mentors. Consider telling them why you are thankful for what they have meant in your life. Think about who you have mentored. Think about what you want your legacy to be when your numbered days have reached the end.
I will end this post by sharing a song. This song reflects well how I view the mentor I recently lost. Pay attention to the lyrics and enjoy.
Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Transformation Media Ministries, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for over 10 years. Scott is married and has three children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges in America every day.