|The Power of Mentoring
The Minnesota Vikings didn’t make the super bowl last year, and I was really bummed. Actually I’m no big Viking fan. It’s just that I love to watch Randy Moss work his magic. Here is a guy who stands six feet four, runs a forty in 4.2 seconds and leaps 39 vertical inches from a flat-footed standstill. Plus his long fingers attract footballs like magnets.
Strange story, Moss. In spite of incredible athleticism and his huge college statistics, most NFL teams passed him over in last year’s draft. He looked like a bad news kid, with an attitude and in trouble with the law. In fact, Randy’s reputation smelled so bad that even the Dallas Cowboys didn’t want him!!
But the Vikings picked Randy up and gave him a chance – but only on the condition that he spend several hours every week, one on one with Cris Carter. Of course Carter is one of football’s all time greats himself, and has broken all kinds of receiving records while with the Vikings. What is more he is also respected on the field and off as a man of solid Christian faith and character. However, Carter didn’t start out that way.
Like Moss, Carter came out of college with phenomenal stats, quick feet and magic hands – but with an attitude – and without a work ethic. Although drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Carter soon drew Buddy Ryan’s wrath and ended up cut from the team. If you’re too bad for Buddy, where do you go? Chris Carter thought his career was over.
Then Carter found a change of heart. When he was introduced to Jesus Christ his whole view of life changed. The new Carter now saw his gifts as God-given, meant to be refined to the max and presented to the glory of God. And it this new Cris Carter who the Vikings gave a second chance, and who went on to became a core team leader – then a pro-bowler - and the a record smashing future hall of famer.
This new Cris Carter is the man who mentored Randy Moss for the past couple of years. Of course Carter helped Moss polish his football skills. Carter also built an excellent work ethic into Moss. But Carter taught Moss a lot more: about life, about values, about how to be a man --- and about Jesus. The results speak for themselves. It is a delight to see Randy Moss glide past defenders with that deceptive long-legged stride, or watch him up float up above all challengers and tease the ball into his hands.
As Sports Illustrated says, “If the ball is underthrown, Moss is going to go up and get it. If it’s overthrown, he can catch up to it. Moss has become the receiver no one can cover.” (although we still wait till the Skins play the Vikes and we see that magnum match-up between Moss and Deion Sanders.)
Consequently, two years ago Moss helped the Vikings break the single season scoring record and produce the league-best 15-1 regular season record. His phenomenal first NFL year included ten receptions of over 40 years and 19 receptions of over 25 yards, plus all sorts of rookie receiving records. Sports Illustrated wondered aloud if Randy Moss might become the Michael Jordan of football.
But the best part of the story is that Randy Moss has become a stable, dependable, consistent person. He is clean as a whistle, appreciated by his coaches and one of the best-liked players on the team. The reason is obvious: people close to him say it all goes back to Cris Carter’s consistent, positive mentoring relationship with Moss.
Such is the life-shaping power in mentoring. This is how God designed us, and is how God intends for faith and character to be built into people -- one person imitating another persons walk with Christ. It was modeled first by Jesus, who built his life into twelve key men, then sent them out to do the same.
The great apostle Paul intentionally chose to mentor, “Be imitators of me”, he invited, “as I am of Christ.” And he told one of his mentees to “give what I have given you to other faithful people, who are able to give it to still others.” Every Christian needs a mentor. And every Christian is meant to be a mentor. Actually every believer is a mentor – like it or not, either positively or negatively. Most people, at some time in life, define Christianity by watching other Christians.
Let me challenge you to look for someone to mentor, somehow. Whether you are man or woman, young or old – it is never too soon to help empower people for better living. Begin now to form your GGTW list (Guys and Gals to Watch). Methodically and intentionally choose to move up beside someone who wants you in his or her life – and build what you are into at least one other life.
Of course you likely won’t produce any NFL Pro-Bowlers – but you may encourage some struggler, and help them turn their life around. Who knows? You may even help shape the heart of a ‘spiritual pro-bowler’. You may, without even knowing it, quietly empower a key person whom God has given the enormous gifts and whom he plans to put in a pivotal position to change world.
You may want to read my book, They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century, ( Howard Publishing. Co. 1997) as you begin your mentoring adventure. Go to our "resources" section to order.
Watch this column for regular short articles that can help you in your mentoring. And jump in on the ‘Mentoring cyber-conversation’ that begins to this week on hope.faithsite.com.
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