Hearts never thrive alone
I believe we all have an obligation to share the light. What I personally want to focus more on going into the new year is making a conscious and concerted effort to be a positive influence on others. To put it simply at risk of diminishing or narrowing the focus too much, I want to be, and I think we all need to be, mentors.
We all need mentors yes, but we also have a responsibility to be mentoring. I don’t especially like that word because it conjures up a formal programmed type relationship where one person is superior to another like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the giant talking rat who was their Kung Fu master, or whatever. Or for you children of the 70’s like me; “You will be ready when you can take the stone from my hand young Grasshopper.”
There may be places for these kinds of relationships but I think it needs to be a little less formal and a lot more natural, and in reality, if we are looking for it, there are opportunities all around us. The obvious and most important being parents, investing time and wisdom into your children. There are grandchildren, in laws, the new guy at work, the apprentice or intern, church family and friends, seemingly passing acquaintances that become regular. Like a package delivery person, a fast food clerk, a waitress.
And you don’t have to be old, age has nothing to do with it. We all have something someone else needs, we all have someone younger than us either in years, experience or spiritual wisdom, and the relationship may shift back and forth. That’s why I don’t like the formal mentoring thing, it designates one person as the mentor and takes away the back and forth mentoring aspect that could benefit both.
Back when Donna and I first got married we used to go with a few other folks to Hardee’s after church every Sunday and or Wednesday nights. I always looked forward to those times and the relationships we built and the things we gleaned from one another still affects us in big ways. We did many things together, like camping and sledding, but the lunch after church thing was the foundation that led to those other things, it was where we refueled both physically and spiritually.
At that Hardee’s there was a lobby hostess named Vera, a sweet lady who actually did her job, keeping the lobby clean and making sure everyone had whatever they needed. She was probably nearly twice my age but after a while she started to ask me questions now and then about the scriptures. She had overheard us talking about the Lord often and we always treated and greeted her as a friend so she was comfortable to ask.
One day we came in to order and before I even had a chance to order my Frisco Burger she came up and said “I have to ask you a question. I am really worried, someone told me the other day that if I have a driver’s license I am going to hell because it is the mark of the beast. If you add up the numbers and divide by 3 and multiply by pie squared and turn it upside down it is 666— the mark of the beast—Am I really going to hell because I have a driver’s license?” (Okay, I made that equation up but it was something ridiculous like that.)
I said, “I’ll be right back.” I went to the car and came back with my Bible and showed her from scripture what it really says, assuring her that no one is going to accidently or unknowingly receive the mark and be sent to hell. In fact there is a new theory every few years about the mark of the beast. In the 70’s I read a book on the coming tribulation that was just sure that bar codes were the mark of the beast.
Vera was greatly relieved and thanked me profusely. Her ever present smile returning to her face. Now, why was I, a twenty something year old fast food patron able to reassure a fifty some year old? Because I had been interacting with her, side note—always with my wife—and we had been courteous, shining the light of Jesus even as we just came to hang out with our noisy kids making messes and enjoying one another’s company. We had something she wanted and was drawn to—the truth.
We need to be those who are ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us, who know where to find the answers and are asked the question. People ask us the hard questions, not because they thumped someone over the head with their Bibles and said; ‘you need to know this’, like the woman who told Vera she was going to hell probably did, but that they would get asked the questions because people can see Jesus in them. The light is uncovered and not artificial.
There are already too many bible thumpers out there cursing people, ask my wife, she gets told she is going to Hell by her customers on a semi-regular basis at McDonalds, always by a member of a fundamentalist church with a serious religious spirit who is trying to win them over to their religion until they find out her husband is a radical Foursquare preacher.
But more often she gets asked questions about Jesus by people who are starved for truth because they see Him in her.
Mentoring relationships can happen and be built on while working together, fishing, hiking, ministering together, we are building lives, we are building the kingdom. Let’s focus less on buildings and perfection in the program and more on each other. The Holy Spirit is in the heart, not the latest study from a famous preacher or the professionalism of a church service put on by stressed out servants.
Look for others to join your hearts to. Hearts never thrive alone.
Have a blessed New Year!