My running partner Jen and I recently ran our first trail race. For ten miles, we hopped logs, jumped little streams, dodged rocks and climbed hills. It was the most strenuous and rewarding ten miles I have ever run. Three years ago, I never would have imagined that I could run a race like that and actually enjoy it!
The race boasted a “T-Rex hill” (no relation to my son T-Rex!). Everyone warned us that it was the hill of all hills, and that you can see it coming. Jen and I run a lot of very hilly country gravel roads, and we may have been a bit over confident going into the race. I mean, really, how bad could it be?
Oh, it was bad. Very bad. We came out of a section of trees and I heard Jen shriek. I thought maybe she had encountered a snake, so I lifted my head (because I had been dodging a section of rocks) and I saw the cause of her terror. It was the hill. No, it was a sand dune that went straight up.
We reached the bottom of the
hill dune and Jen said, “I’m going to see how far I can run up it!” She must have had a rush of adrenaline. I said, “Good luck!” and waved her on. She made it a quarter of the way up and stopped announcing, “NO ONE can run this entire hill!” Just then, a man in his fifties breezed past us, running up the entire hill. I started laughing and clapping for him as he reached the top.
When we reached the top of the hill (that we WALKED up!) we were so excited and proud of ourselves. We were high five-ing each other and laughing as we started jogging the next section of trail. Then we heard people behind us yelling “WAIT!! Turn around! Stop!!” Confused, we turned around to discover that we had completely missed the trail markers and should have turned left instead of going straight. We were following a guy in front of us who had also gone straight.
We quickly jogged back to the markers and hit the trail again, thanking the racers who had alerted us to our mistake. They responded, “Yeah, we ran this last year and almost did the same thing!” The markers were visible, we just had our eyes focused on the wrong thing.
I was glad that someone who knew the way had called out to us, because we very easily could have ended up miles off course and completely lost.
Just as I was so thankful that those who had run the trail race before helped guide us back on course, it’s important to have life mentors who have gone before to point out the markers on the trail of life we might miss.
At the Speak Up with Confidence seminar, Carol Kent did a workshop on mentoring. She talked about 3 different kinds of mentors:
From a distance (models: contemporary, historical, hero who is admired)
For a season (counselor, teacher, disciple, spiritual encourager)
For a lifetime (someone who commits to a long term relationship of sharing resources, encouragement, spiritual insight, advice and prayer for you.)
What surprised me most was she said in her research that less that 5% of the top 100 Christian leaders she interviewed had a lifetime mentor. If you have one, hug them today!
Often, no one mentor can help you in all areas of your life. You might have one who helps you through parenting, another who helps you with your skill set or career, and another spiritual mentor. We need a community of people who help us stay on the path – whether they lead us for a lifetime, from afar, or just for a season, each one is important.
Do you have any mentors who are helping you follow after God in various areas of your life? If not, begin praying today for guidance and that God might bring into your life those who can help guide you in His path.