Summary: We all should have a mentor and be a mentor
Four years ago, when the New England Patriots began the 2002 season they were a group of mostly average players that no one really expected much from. Four games into the season, their all-pro quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured and unable to play for the majority of the season and their win-lose record stood at 1-3. 23 year old rookie, Tom Brady, was the replacement for Bledsoe, which at the time didn’t look to promising for the Patriots’ 2002 season. At that point, Vegas set the odds for the Patriots to win the Superbowl as 10,000 to 1.
The Patriots overcame the odds that season to win the Superbowl for a number of reasons. Many look back on that year and attribute their success to coaching mastermind Bill Belichick. Others look at the now, 2 time Superbowl MVP and all-pro quarterback Tom Brady as the reason for their success. Still others contribute their winning seasons to the player’s abilities to play unselfishly and to come together as a team like never before.
As those are definitely all true reasons for their success, I think there is one more significant reason that is often overlooked. That reason is Drew Bledsoe! Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Wait a minute…He was injured and just sat on the sidelines most of the season.” As that is true I would make the argument that it is only half true. Yes, Bledsoe was injured and couldn’t play most of the season but he did a lot more than just sitting on the sidelines.
As the youngster Brady began to lead the team, Bledsoe quickly became his coach and mentor, working close with him and helping him in any way he could. Even latter in the season, when Bledsoe recovered from his injury and was told that Brady was going to continue to start, he didn’t complain or gripe about it but set out to make sure that Brady didn’t make any of the same mistakes he had made as a rookie. This mentor relationship between Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady was a major contribution to the Patriots 2002 Superbowl victory as well as to the continued success of Tom Brady.
This idea of a mentor relationship is not only found in football. Matt Clement expressed that one of his reasons for signing with the Boston Red Sox was so that he could gain wisdom from the likes of Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek. Business and leadership guru John Maxwell stresses the importance of mentoring in the final chapter of his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, as he writes that “A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” When you want to succeed in music, arts, and trades the best thing to do is to take lessons or an apprenticeship from someone that can teach you everything you need to know.
Throughout scripture, mentoring is something that is seen very regularly to help people grow in their relationship with God. One could call it a one-on-one discipleship method. We see it between Jesus and his disciple John, who is refereed to five times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We see it with Eli and Samuel in the Old Testament. We see it multiple times with Paul, first being mentored by Barnabas and then mentoring Titus and, as our text shows, Timothy.
The question to think about then is, why if mentoring is so important to success in sports, business, and other areas of life; and why if mentoring, or one-on-one discipleship, was modeled and supported in scripture; do we so rarely see mentoring today when it comes to our own relationships with God?
According to a study done by the National Network of Youth Ministry (NNYM), 9 out of every 10 young people who begin a relationship with Christ would say that the biggest factor in their decision was because of a one-on-one relationship with an adult. That’s 90% of young people coming to Christ today!! Knowing this statistic two years ago, when my friend Steve and I had the opportunity to conduct a survey at the Manchester/Essex High School, we asked the students what adults they had to look up to in a positive way. Out of 115 students surveyed, 38% bluntly said they had none!
With the rest of our time this morning, I want to look at the idea of mentoring, or one-on-one discipleship, and first define what it is and then I would like to look specifically at relationship between Paul and Timothy and pull out some principles that will help all of us be and have better spiritual mentors during our lives.
So, what is mentoring? Mentoring is when someone who has “been there, done that” takes someone who is “getting there, doing that” under their wings. Let me repeat that. Mentoring is when someone who has “been there, done that” takes someone who is “getting there, doing that” under their wings. I define mentoring this way for two reasons. First, mentoring isn’t as much about age as it is about experience. As Barnabas mentored Paul, the two men very well could have been similar in age but Barnabas had the experience with a relationship with God that Paul didn’t have. Second, often when we think about being a mentor, people are very quick to discredit themselves because they haven’t “lived a good enough life.” In reality though, it is often the people who have made the most mistakes that have the most to offer in a mentoring relationship. Again, Paul is a great example of this seeing that before he became a Christian, he killed Christians for a living. If Paul can be a mentor, pretty much anyone can.