I have learned through the years some key lessons about mentoring. I’m sure that my insights are neither original nor exhaustive. Perhaps, though, they might be of some value to you.
1. Mentoring can be formal or informal. On occasion, I would intentionally decide to work with a young man. I never declared that I was mentoring him. But, through different events where we were together, a mentoring relationship did exist.
2. I did my best mentoring when I enjoyed the person whom I was mentoring. Okay, there’s no abundance of wisdom with that comment. Still, I found myself a more effective mentor when the relationship was fun and enjoyable.
3. Mentoring is not a one-way effort. I have learned much from those I've mentored, probably more than they have ever learned from me.
4. Mentoring works best when it is built on the foundation of prayer. This past week, I called because I wanted a man to pray for someone. My relationship with those I mentored was strongest when it was built on a common trust and dependence on Christ.
5. When mentoring is effective, the one who is mentored becomes an effective mentor as well.
And the Gift Goes On . . .
I do have some regrets. I do wish I had taken more young men under my wing and offered them my time and what little wisdom I had to offer. But I also know that, God willing, I still have years left to mentor others.
And lest I fail to mention the obvious, my three sons have always been my most intense focus in mentoring. God gave me three of the greatest gifts in the world in Sam Rainer, Art Rainer, and Jess Rainer. The times I have invested in them have been some of the most precious times of my life.
One final word in this somewhat rambling blog. A young man named Jimmy Scroggins is now mentoring my son, Art, who serves on the staff of the church with Jimmy. And I am watching how he is doing so much better with Art than I ever did with Jimmy.
Of all the investments we can make, nothing is as valuable as investing in a life. I am grateful for the times I have. And I am grateful to see the legacy of mentoring continue.
The gift truly does go on.