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Selecting Mentors with One Life in Mind by Buck Jacobs

Guest Post by Buck Jacobs- Seven key qualities we’ve identified as paramount when seeking a mentor are:

1.  Intimacy with God  
2.  Commitment to a godly marriage
3.  Commitment to godly parenting  
4.  A proven history of fruitfully ministering the truth in live to others
5.  Aware of the dangers of materialism and models active resistance to excessive acquisition
6.  Displays self-discipline  
7.  Commitment to lifelong learning  

Each quality listed above requires that we intentionally focus our attention on the life of the mentor.  These qualities are directly related to fundamental spiritual perspectives and values.  While we might instead select someone simply based on their apparent accomplishments, there’s good reason to begin with these basic Biblical characteristics.  To clarify, let me provide an example of where we’re going with this as it applies to our work and/or career.

I once had the privilege of meeting Max DePree, the retired CEO and Chairman of Herman Miller Corporation, one of America’s most admired companies.  After we were introduced, Mr. DePree asked me what I did.  I replied, “I teach Christians to integrate their faith into their businesses.”  Mr. DePree paused and then said to me, “Don’t you have that exactly backwards, Buck?  Isn’t our faith the center of our lives?  And shouldn’t we be bringing all things to our faith, rather than vice-versa?  We’ll be Christians long after we aren’t businessmen.”  He, of course, was right on!  For a Christ-follower, Jesus and our faith is the center of our lives.  All other relationships or activities should be conformed or viewed through our relationship to Christ, rather than in any way driving changes to our relationship with Him.  For most 21st century Christians this is very radical thinking.   We’ve been culturally trained to believe that we’re gradually and inexorably progressing toward a secular public square where we can’t mix faith with business, politics, or anything else outside of our homes and churches.  This nonsense only serves to legitimize the world’s accusation of hypocrisy against many Christians. A hypocrite is one who professes to believe in one standard but lives according to another.  How tough is it to spot such hypocrisy among Christians in business?

Why is this the case?  The fact is that the only part of our career with any lasting value to us is that which has eternal significance.  Our businesses are our unique mission fields.  Our ultimate success will be measured not by how financially rewarding they are, but by how faithful we’ve been in allowing Christ to live through us as we lead and operate each day.  All the toys and shiny things of this world will lose their value to us completely and forever the moment we draw our last breath.  Only those things that we’ve done that have value to Jesus will accompany us through His judgment and into ETERNAL LIFE!  Therefore, only those mentors that understand life from a Biblical perspective can be of real value to us in the true ‘big picture.’  This isn’t to say that we can’t learn practical skills or be taught worthwhile things by ungodly people.  Of course we can.  But we must use godly discernment.  Many have been led astray by leaning their ladders against the wrong wall and climbing towards a faulty understanding of success.

Scripture says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33) and “Blessed is he who seeks NOT the counsel of the ungodly…” (Ps1:1).  In the most basic terms, our earthly lives are preparation for our eternal lives.  Therefore, our mentors should reflect those values and qualities that support the big picture, combining both spiritual maturity and practical experience.  Is it hard to find men and women who combine both?  Sure.  Like most things truly worth having, the search will take effort.  But is it worth the effort?  In just a wink-of-the-eye in eternal terms (i.e., 1, 100, or 1000 years) we’ll know for sure that it was!  As the old poem says, “Only ONE LIFE, ‘twill soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The best mentors in my life have been men who love God.  Some have had great business skills and experience, some haven’t.  The amazing thing is that some of the very best business advice I’ve received came from those who had the least business experience but the best ability to hear from God.  Should we be surprised?  Think about it.  Who knows what we really need and what choices are consistent with our eternal good?

If this all makes sense to you and you’d like to find God’s mentor(s) for you, start by asking Him.  He already knows just who and where they are and how you can connect with them.  Ask Him!  Then watch your life and business begin to align in ways that hold great eternal promise.

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posted by Justin Forman | 11.23.2010 - 5:55 AM

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