Commentary by Walter Albritton


February 19, 2006


Godly Mentors Help Us Develop Our God-given Uniqueness


2 Timothy, Chapters 3 and 4


Key Verse: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it. – 2 Timothy 3:14


          A mentor is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. But though teachers may be wise, they are not all accepted as mentors. The key word is “trusted.” Effective mentoring occurs when the student admires the mentor and embraces the wise counseling that is offered.

          All of us learn, to one degree or another, from our teachers. As Christians most of us have been blessed by the mentoring of a few special people who modeled the faith for us, inspiring us to embrace it as our own.

          From infancy I was exposed to the faith by devout Christian parents.  They took me to the same church for the first 13 years of my life. I was taught by several teachers and pastors but none of them became a mentor for me. Even their names are forgotten since none of them became a pivotal force in my life. While they each contributed to my spiritual growth, none made a striking difference. 

          Then I met Brother Si Mathison. He made Christianity attractive to me. I admired him so much that I persuaded my entire family to transfer our membership to the church Brother Si served as pastor, First United Methodist Church in Wetumpka.

          Looking back, I realize that I embraced Brother Si as a mentor because I admired him and his approach to the faith. But there was more. I came to “trust” him only because he took a personal interest in me. Over time he became the most important Christian influence in my life. He was the role model God used to fuel in me the desire to become a minister of the gospel.

           His influence continues into my 74th year. The other day I visited with him at Wesley Gardens in Montgomery. We talked and prayed together. I thanked him for his prayers for he has prayed for me daily more than any other person other than my wife Dean.

          Now 96, Brother Si remains my beloved spiritual father. His two sons, John Ed and George, are like brothers to me. Brother Si has been to me like Paul was to Timothy, a wise and trusted counselor, teacher, and friend.         

          Imagine being mentored in the faith by the Apostle Paul! Such was the good fortune of young Timothy. Tutored early on by his mother and grandmother, Timothy was well prepared for Paul to take him to higher levels of discipleship. His good mind was fertile ground in which the brilliant apostle could plant the truths of the Gospel.

          Paul taught Timothy to appreciate the guidance his family gave him. And he taught him to trust the counsel of the Holy Scriptures. That was most important since Timothy’s culture, like our own, did not value the authority of the Bible. When we believe the Scriptures are inspired by God, the Holy Spirit then mentors us as we feed on and inwardly digest the precious Word of God.

          E. Stanley Jones was a mentor to me through his writing, preaching, and a few conversations. He taught me to trust the living Christ as the chief Mentor of my heart. Jones spoke often of “the Inner Voice.” Clearly this was his way of describing the guidance he received constantly from the Holy Spirit or the One Paul sometimes spoke of as the living Christ.

          As we mature in the faith, we discover the joy of trusting the Spirit to guide, guard, teach, reprove, correct, and train us by way of “the Inner Voice.” He often calls to mind lessons we learned from our study of the Scriptures. We learn that we never go wrong by following the mentoring guidance of his “Inner Voice.”

          The concept of mentoring can be expanded to include persons we know only through their writings. Elton Trueblood, another precious mentor of mine, taught me to think of persons like Martin Luther, John Wesley, Thomas a Kempis, and others as mentors and friends. Indeed I learned so much from allowing them to counsel and instruct me through the books they had written.

          This being true, we can think of Paul as not only Timothy’s mentor but our own as well. As we read his wise counsel in the Bible, we can give thanks that he has taught us the importance of remaining faithful to Christ in spite of persecution and trials.

          We can celebrate the role model he was for us when he was mistreated by others or when misfortune made his life miserable. We can rejoice that he has taught us not to give up under the pressures of life but to hold on so that one day we can say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

          Let us give thanks with all our hearts for those who have been our mentors and role models, whether the difference they made was small or great. And let us ask the living Christ to give us the grace to live out our lives so that at least one person, following in our footsteps, may find us to have been a worthy mentor and role model.

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