Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Mentor To Lean On In Tough Times

It was through reading the book, Touchdown Alexander, the story about the Seattle Seahawk running back Shaun Alexander and his experiences as a Christian that

I first contemplated finding a mentor who could support me in my own journey with God.

He writes about his pastor, who encouraged his parishioners to have a mentor, a protégé and encourager in their life. As I began to pray and ask God for help to find a mentor, He gave me a surprisingly quick answer. I knew I needed someone who was a godly example; someone I could trust. He needed to be someone that I could be honest with and respected enough to heed his advice. Tom Hight fit the criteria.

I hadn't spent any time with Tom outside of church, but every time I spoke with Tom or watched him at church, I saw a man who cared about people and was doing his best to serve God. So I approached Tom one night following a Monday Night Live meeting to see if he would be interested in joining me in this special relationship. I was a little nervous, again, not knowing him very well. As it turned out, he was so gracious and suggested we meet and get to know one another first. From that first meeting to the last (which occurred the Wednesday before he passed away) I knew God had his hand in bringing us together. In one of the most challenging years of my life, I had a mentor and friend to look to for wise counsel and support.

Little did I know that God's timing, as usual, was going to be perfect. Three months into our regular meetings, my younger brother, Craig, died of a heart attack at 38 years of age. As a family, we had celebrated his birthday earlier that very day. Craig was my only sibling. So while I grieved the loss of my brother, I tried to be there for my sister-in-law Teresa, my three nephews and niece, my parents and my own family. Thankfully, Tom was a constant support with his prayers and encouragement. He and Ann attended the memorial service down in Vancouver, where I spoke about my brother and what he meant to me.

I leaned on Tom as he kindly reminded me of God's strength and love.

I so appreciated the fact that God knew I was going to need a mentor more than ever and that Tom was willing to serve in that role for me.

There were other difficult situations I faced during the fifteen months I spent with Tom. With each one, he consistently listened, empathized, and offered words of encouragement and wisdom from the Bible. Whenever I told Tom how much I appreciated our relationship, he would say the feeling was mutual. Even though I was the one being mentored, I would ask him how his life was going and what I could pray about for him. I was honored that he trusted me enough to allow me to be a part of his life. This demonstrated how mentors are human too. Humility, when practiced in front of others, is a powerful testimony of what God can do through us.

Through my relationship with Tom I gained a deeper understanding of the verse found in James 4:10,

"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up"

My respect for Tom grew as he showed his humanity and dependence on God.

I will cherish the time I had with Tom Hight as my mentor and dear friend. I am a better man and a stronger Christian for having known him. The lessons I learned I will forever remember and proudly pass on if ever asked to be a mentor to someone else someday. I hadn't anticipated gaining a friend by having a mentor, but what a wonderful and blessed byproduct of having one! I have come to believe that only when someone is willing to become a friend can he become an effective mentor. If you do not yet have a mentor in your life, I strongly encourage you to find one. I guarantee you will not regret it.

-Mike Mendenhall

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