triple-braided cord

Mentoring: People of Value Adding Value to People

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There is nothing more rewarding than investing ourselves in others. That’s what a music teacher discovered after many years of personal investment in the lives of his students. But that’s getting ahead of his story. Let me start at the beginning, as I’ve heard it told in the mid-90s film you’ll likely recognize.

Mr. Holland is a brilliant musician whose dream is to compose a symphony through which he’ll someday become rich and famous. But difficult circumstances force him to take a job as a music teacher at a high school, a job he will hold for the next thirty plus years of his life.

Influencing the Lives of Those Around You

During those years, he does much more than teach music. He becomes personally involved in the lives of his students as a friend, encourager, and cheerleader.

But Mr. Holland is now a much older man, and budgetary constraints have led to the elimination of his music program, rendering him unemployed. And as he makes his way out the door for the last time, his attention is drawn to the sound of celebration in the nearby auditorium. Poking his head in the doorway, he’s surprised to discover that it’s all about him! Soon he is conspicuously seated near the front of room, and as he listens, he is humbled and overwhelmed by what he hears.

A Success Far Greater than Riches and Fame

The keynote is delivered by an alumnus of that high school. Mr. Holland had worked with her, not so much in music as in helping her develop a healthy self-esteem and drive for achievement. She is now state Governor, and this is what she said:

Mr. Holland has been a profound influence on my life, and on a lot of lives I know. Yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent. Rumor has it, he was always working on this symphony of his, which was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. And he would be wrong, because I think he’s achieved a success far greater than riches and fame. Look around you—there is not one life in this room that you have not touched. Each one of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony. We are the notes and melodies of your opus. We are the music of your life.

The Importance of Investing in People

By now you know that I’ve just given you the plot summary for Mr. Holland’s Opus. My purpose isn’t so much to recommend this film (I can’t vouch for all of its contents) as it is to point you to its overarching principle—the importance of investing in people. What a beautiful testimony to the impact of one life on the lives of others.

There’s a term for this: mentoring. Simply stated, mentoring is a relationship between two people in which one empowers the other. In Mr. Holland’s classroom, it was a teacher and his students. But it can happen in families—father and son, mother and daughter, grandparent and grandchild.

Mentoring is a relationship between two people in which one empowers the other. – Whaid Rose Click To Tweet

It happens too in friendships and professional relationships—empowering a friend through positive affirmation and encouragement, an experienced person helping someone less experienced in their personal development.

Most often, and most consequentially, it happens at church as a pastor or leader or older Christian helps a younger Christian grow up in Christ through intentional spiritual investment.

Commitment, Challenge, and Accountability

This is more than just a warm, fuzzy relationship; it involves commitment, challenge, and accountability. It’s been said that “Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the seat of the pants.” Tim Elmore, author of Mentoring: How to Invest Your Life in Others, lists seven vital aspects of the mentoring process:

    • Accountability—Help people keep their commitments
    • Assessment—Evaluate their positives and negatives
    • Affirmation—Endorse their talents and abilities
    • Advice—Provide wise counsel
    • Admonishment—Provide correction, even strong rebuke, when necessary
    • Assets—Place tangible resources within their reach
    • Application—Help people find a laboratory, a place in which they can practice

Scripture affirms the concept of mentoring and provides real life examples. “Iron sharpens iron,” wrote Solomon in Proverbs 27:17. Is that why Moses partnered with Aaron? Why Elijah poured himself into Elisha? Why Barnabas invested in Paul and Mark? Why Jesus chose twelve men into whom He poured Himself?

Triple-braided Cord

Solomon takes this a step further in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 by employing the metaphor of a triple-braided cord which is not easily broken. For the late Dr. Howard Hendricks, this highlights the need for the triple-braided mentoring relationship as is seen in the relationship between Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy:

    • Paul—the example of an older person who is wise and godly and who is willing to share their wisdom and experience
    • Barnabas—someone close in age who has your back
    • Timothy—a younger person into whom you are pouring your life.

This simplifies it, puts the cookie on a lower shelf. Mentoring is people of value adding value to those around them. It’s something we all can do, and the beginning of a brand new year is a great time to start. In fact, January is National Mentoring Month here in the United States, and the Artios Center is pleased to promote this good cause.

There’s nothing more rewarding than investing ourselves in others. – Whaid Rose Click To Tweet

So, step up to the plate. Make this personal by committing to the mentoring challenge. There’s nothing more rewarding than investing ourselves in others. That’s what Mr. Holland discovered. You’ll discover it too.

Whaid Rose

Whaid Rose, former president of the General Conference, is dean of the Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership and pastors the Newton, NC CoG7. He and his wife, Marjolene, live in Denver, NC.