There have been a few older men who have seriously influenced my life as a Christian man. Let me name a few.
There’s my dad, who has been a model of a father and a husband that his own dad never was, which has taught me the possibilities of resilience and determination even in the face of your own flaws and your past.
There’s Artie, my Campus Outreach staff guy during my sophomore and junior years of college, who helped teach me the importance of being honest and open with someone else and staying true to the Word of God all while being an incredible friend.
There’s Thadd, my youth pastor in high school, who taught me the importance of being faithful to God in front of others and helped lay the foundation of my faith during my formative years before college.
There’s Pastor Andy, who met with me once every two weeks during the spring of my senior year of college to help me deal sin in my life, waking up early and driving 20 minutes out of his way to meet at Dunkin’ Donuts and talk life with me, reading a book and sharing from Scripture.
There’s Ray, probably the happiest person I’ve ever met, who has been like a second father in a way over the years, who never fails to ask me how he can pray for me and gives me a neck hug every time he sees me.
There’s Pastor Bruce, whose wisdom in the Word and concern for my spiritual life have been a welcome blessing since I’ve returned home from school.
There’s my friend Phillip, who, even though he’s just two years older than I am, has been one of my best friends and a guiding presence in my life for eight-and-a-half years.
All of these men I would consider mentors in one way or another. Some were more explicitly mentors, while others were encouragers and a little more. We all need them. Scripture gives us a good example why.
A Young King, An Instructing Priest
In 2 Kings 12, Jehoash begins reigning as king in Judah as a seven-year-old. Seven years old, and he’s got the throne of a whole nation! Can’t imagine he had it all figured out or understood. There had to be some things he had to learn.
2 Kings 12:1-2:
In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoida the priest instructed him.
Jehoida the priest was basically a God-fearing boss. Boss as in he rocked at it. Athaliah, Jehoash’s grandmother, had illegitimately taken over the kingdom after the death of her son Ahaziah (Jehoash’s dad) and wasn’t exactly friendly about it (you can read about this in 2 Kings 11). Jehoida was committed to doing things the Lord’s way. So he had her removed from the throne and established Jehoash as the king over Judah.
2 Kings 11:17 records that “Jehoida made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD’s people, and also between the king and the people.” The temple of Baal was then destroyed and the priest of Baal killed. This was the right guy to have instructing Jehoash the young king.
And it paid off. 2 Kings 12:4-18 tells the story of how Jehoash properly went about rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of God all his days, and the Scripture says it was a direct result of the instruction of Jehoida the priest. Were things perfect? No. 2 Kings 12:3 says that high places of worship to other gods were still in the country, but Jehoash is remembered as someone who followed God all his days.
The Importance of Old People
As a millennial, I’m part of a very self-determining generation. We like to figure things out on our own. Probably the headline phrase – “I do me.” It’s a way of saying, “I got it, I’ll do it, I’ll do what I want, don’t need any help.” We don’t need anybody. Especially them old farts.
It’s a really discouraging thing. And, even as I write this, I sense in my own heart a resistance to opening myself up to older people, instead just saying, “I’mma do me.”
And when I say “old people,” this is not a disparaging term. For me, it’s a term of affection and one that engenders respect and honor. Not to say that all people more advanced in age than I are worth the respect and honor I have for men like Thadd, Ray and Pastor Andy. But these men were and still are my Jehoidas. They’re people who I can rely on to encourage and challenge me to pursue Jesus through my whole life, in spite of every bit of resistance I can work up.
Thadd was the first real mentor figure I had. He was my youth pastor for all four years of high school, something I found out later was rather rare, as youth pastor is a high turnover position. By the end of my senior year, he may or may not have been tired of me saying at times, “Hey Thadd, can I talk to you about something?” I loved how much he cared for us youth. He spent a lot of time and effort working on ways to help educate us in the Scriptures and in following Jesus.
Artie (in the front of the picture at the top of this post) spent two years doing a lot of what Thadd did. He had a lot of responsibilities leading a campus ministry, but he happened to be one of my best friends during the two years we knew each other at Elon. We even went to South Africa for seven weeks the summer after my junior year as part of a team to share the Gospel with South African college students, and he was still a great friend. We were very similar people with very similar personalities, so that helped. He cared.
Then there’s my dad. When you’re growing up, sometimes it can be hard for you to really relate to your dad. He’s the authority figure, el jefe, the head of the family. And there are a lot of responsibilities that come with that. I admit that I harbored frustrations with my dad during some years. He was doing his job, but I was so stubborn and prideful to realize that I needed what he was doing. But our relationship has taken a rather pleasant, refreshing and encouraging turn over the last few years. I think it’s been one result of change in him, something for which I thank and praise my Heavenly Father. I think God has also worked in me a slice of humility that I desperately needed to understand that my dad wasn’t trying to boss me around all the time, but simply wanted to help me grow as a man because he loved me. And it’s been pretty awesome.
Get Yourself A Jehoida
I think that each and every Christian should have a Jehoida that they can go to at anytime for advice and wisdom or even just encouragement or a good time. The spiritually younger need the spiritually older. So my advice: get yourself a Jehoida.
Here are some tips for finding your own Jehoida:
Look for someone who has been a Christian longer than you. One of the greatest teachers is experience. Someone who has been faithfully following Jesus for a long time has learned a few things more than you. Take advantage of that.
Look for someone who is willing to talk about their mistakes. A mentor who is willing to talk about where they’ve screwed up is likely one who has received and experienced the grace of Jesus and can readily share that with you. You’ll probably only find this out by actually spending time with them, and it will probably require some openness on your part, but it’s 100 percent worth it.
Look for someone who serves the local church in some capacity. Your life’s call is to serve God by serving the body of Christ in a church or ministry context. Whether it’s helping out with the kids’ ministry or serving on the church finance committee or as a deacon, serving in the church is usually (not always) evidence of dedication to the cause of Christ. Each of the men I listed at the beginning of this post serve Christ in some capacity. My dad is a deacon at Turner’s Chapel, Artie works for a college ministry, Thadd pastors Connect Church here in Sanford, Pastor Andy is on staff at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Mebane, N.C., Ray works with the AWANA children’s ministry at TC, and Pastor Bruce and Phillip are the pastor and youth pastor, respectively, at TC. Again, not always evidence of faithfulness, but it’s a good place to start.
Finally, look for someone who will be dedicated to you. Each of these men actually cared for me and have, at some point in my life, made time in their days or weeks to speak with me, pray for me, eat with me, encourage me, challenge me, etc. That makes a world of difference.
But there’s a requirement from you. This thing is a two-way street. You have got to be open to sharing some of the most deepest and intimate parts of your life with somebody else. It’s living out the command in Scripture – “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Or even this – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Another word for it is discipleship. It’s what Jesus did with His disciples. It’s what Jehoida did with Jehoash. It’s what all of us young, hot-headed, prideful kids desperately need.