“Is he your mentee?” I was asked when someone saw me in a photo with one of the people I was journeying with. I hesitated for a moment and said that I am normally not comfortable with a term like that. Yes, I do mentoring, but I have also understood that Jesus is the mentor with a capital M and He mentors all of us. The people I journey with are my friends. Indeed, Jesus the Master Mentor called His disciples friends (John 15: 12–17) so I think I am in good company.
When I think of the folks I journey with as friends, it achieves a number of things. First, as I have said, it reminds all that Jesus is the true mentor and all of us are being mentored by Him. I am reminded that I am a mentee myself and stand with my friends under the tutelage of Christ. Second, it frees me to learn from my friends. At any one time I have about two mentoring groups going and I learn so much from them. In our present knowledge era, nobody knows it all. I learn so much from my friends and I am often inspired by their faith. I also hope that a posture of learning rubs off on them. And since we are friends, I hope the relationship is a safe place for all of us to share our stories, to bring our lives into the Christ light so He can touch us.
If friendship is a key commitment in our mentoring ministry, food is the other. A key thing that friends do is share meals. Sharing meals is both an expression and a builder of friendships. It helps that I have this fantastic wife, Bernice, who is a great cook. When the group meetings are held at our home she whips up a fantastic meal for us. Bernice is a great mentor and counsellor in her own right. But we believe that providing food is a key way we show we love people, so she also contributes to our mentoring with her cooking.
More than a decade later, when the time came to replace the pub table with something that better suited our growing family, we could not bring ourselves to get rid of it. After countless meals together, often shared with family and friends, that table had become an icon of God’s grace and goodness. To take up a place at that table was to occupy sacred space. The people we loved most sat with us there. Meals were shared. Stories were told. Sins were confessed. We laughed together and cried together. Together we remembered where we’d been, and we dreamed of where we might one day go. We prayed at that table. And there we experienced God’s nearness, God’s kindness, and God’s love.
Sharing tables is one of the most uniquely human things we do. No other creature consumes its food at a table. And sharing tables with other people reminds us that there’s more to food than fuel. We don’t eat only for sustenance. (Barry D. Jones, The Dinner Table as a Place of Connection, Brokenness, and Blessing)
Indeed, as we share a meal we remember that our true friend and mentor is among us (Luke 24:28–31).
As I look at the year ahead, a year when I will turn 66, I ask myself, and I ask the Lord, how should I invest my life going forward. Mentoring has always been a key part of Graceworks’ ministry. But we need His wisdom as to how we can do it better in the present environment. I dream of starting a School of Mentoring — committed to the practice and promotion of Spiritual Mentoring. But I have had many dreams before. Time will show if this is of the Lord. In the meantime, I will continue to share meals with my friends.