Who has been a mentor in your life? Who has invested their time and energy to help you become who you are today? Who has “passed the baton” to you and challenged you…inspired you… to run faithfully the next lap in the race that is before you?
Mentors abound throughout history and in literature. In Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus, the King of Ithaca left home to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his household to Mentor, a wise, sagacious advisor to his young son, Telemachus. Socrates was a mentor for Plato; Franz Joseph Hayden was a mentor for young Ludwig van Beethoven; and Sigmund Freud mentored Carl Jung. In a mentoring relationship one person invests time, energy, life experience and knowledge in the growth and development of another person. A mentor helps someone succeed by encouraging them to try something new…and passing the baton to them so they can do it. Mentors are unselfish. Their joy is in seeing someone blossom and developing skill sets that they may not even know they have.
On this Father’s Day, I give thanks to God for my Dad, Karl Tewell, who modeled for me the impact that one person can have in a family, a neighborhood, a community or a corporation. One of my fondest memories of my Dad, who worked for U.S, Airways, was the way he took time to know the names of all the mechanics, the baggage handlers, the flight attendants and the gate agents. Each time he boarded a plane for a flight, he would take the time to call each one by name and thank them for their service to US Airways. He told them that there would not be a US Airways…without THEM! When he left each encounter, the employees were beaming with pride in their work. They stood up a little straighter and they had a smile that said it all!
Richard Halverson, former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate said, “If you want someone to believe what you are saying, back it up with your life.” My Dad did. My Father’s personal touch with people and authentic relationship with God made an indelible impression on me. I am still reaping dividends off of his investment in me and our family. In fact, I feel that my Dad passed his baton of faith to me…and, by God’s grace, I am trying to run the next lap in the race of faith that he started.
In the same way, the Apostle Paul passed the baton of faith to his young “son in the faith,” Timothy. In his second pastoral letter to Timothy, Paul offers sage advice about living the Christian life. He encourages Timothy to entrust the important things that he has been taught to people who can teach others also. [tweetable] In other words, he urged Timothy to always be looking for someone to whom he can pass the baton of faith…who will pass it on to others…who will pass it on to others…
What Paul is saying here is that the life of faith is a relay race in which we must be constantly on the lookout for people to whom we can pass the baton. This is true for Fathers and Mothers but it is also true for leaders at every stage of life. Our goal should not be to make people dependent on us but to help them run with perseverance the race that is set before them.
Father’s Day is a magnificent day to not only remember and acknowledge our mentors but a day to remember that WE are called to be mentors too. For whom are YOU a mentor? And…remember that you might be someone’s mentor…and not even know it!