How did Douglas MacArthur become Douglas MacArthur? During World War ii, this man was one of only five who were promoted to the rank of five-star general. He is still one of the most recognizable names in American military history.
How he became a great general has to do with another MacArthur: his father, Arthur MacArthur. He too was a well-respected general in the United States Army. And his son, Douglas, made him his mentor.
One of Douglas’s classmates at West Point said that he “often wondered if he could ever become as great as his father.” And 30 years after the elder MacArthur died, General MacArthur, the younger, said, “Whenever I perform a mission and I think I have done it well, I feel that I can [stand] up squarely to my dad and say, ‘Governor, how about it?’”
The connection and the benefit between these two Generals MacArthur is clear. But it encapsulates a responsibility that every Christian man should give serious thought to.
The Christian man must awaken to his duty as a mentor.
What Is a Mentor?
A mentor is one who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced, often younger person. He is a trusted counselor or guide. Mentoring is a relationship—a partnership between one man with experience and another who wants to learn.
Men, God can use you to change the course of a young man’s life.
But first you have to realize the importance and power of this responsibility. Recognize the dedication it takes to create this powerful connection. Then embrace it. Develop the mind-set not only to develop as a godly man, but also to help develop other godly men.
The need is great. There are dozens, hundreds of junior partners out there ready to learn but needing mentors. Think of the fatherless, the teenagers and especially your own children.
Masculine Christian mentoring isn’t a matter of just taking charge and teaching everyone who walks by what you think is right or what you think should be done. It comes with time and with maturity. It comes with your own conversion. It comes with submitting to God. It comes with God exerting influence on you, and you exerting that same biblical influence on other young men.
Training young people takes time, energy, investment. With our own children, recognize that when a problem arises, it is not an imposition—but an opportunity! This is what it is about: helping someone through setbacks, learning from mistakes.
The Power in Sharing Knowledge
Biblical manhood mandates that you share your knowledge—that you teach, counsel and guide.
Read Genesis 18:19 and what God says about the father of the faithful, Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Abraham was a spiritual giant to other spiritual giants: Moses, David, Isaiah, the apostles. And a big part of what impressed God so much about Abraham was that he would teach, guide, counsel, advise, instruct, mentor!
When God said this, Abraham had only one son. But because Abraham was diligent to teach those in his household, God could make him the father of nations! You don’t even have to have children for God to see this quality in you.
You see the results of Abraham’s mentoring in the way Isaac conducted himself (e.g. during the trial of Genesis 22). Compare the difference between Isaac, who had the benefit of Abraham’s direct influence, and Ishmael, who didn’t. You can even see the results of Abraham’s mentoring in his servants, for example, the servant who was full of faith when he sought out a bride for Isaac on Abraham’s behalf (Genesis 24).
God learns a lot about you from the way you treat children, and your household. He notices whether you help them grow in the right way, to do justice and judgment.
This relationship between mentor and student is extremely important to God. God is helping us all to grow, but He is using people like Abraham to do it. God wants us all to develop the mind-set Abraham had in mentoring others.
What a Godly Man Does
Gen. Wilbur Lyman Creech, commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command, put it: “The first duty of a leader is to create more leaders.”
Moses mentored Joshua. Samuel mentored King David and students at three colleges. David mentored Solomon. Elijah mentored Elisha. Paul mentored Timothy and several other elders. You see a pattern in men who have yielded to God: Godly men have a mind to develop other godly men!
What did Jesus Christ do when He was a human being? He spent a great deal of time setting an amazing example of mentorship. He was a teacher and a guide—especially to His 12 disciples. Christ developed a close relationship with these men, training, counseling, instructing. He even developed a special and very close mentoring relationship with the Apostle John, preparing him for an important work. And what great leaders these men became: From Jerusalem to Turkey to Persia to North Africa to Europe to the British Isles, they set the world on fire with the true gospel!
The Bible is loaded with admonitions about and examples of this teaching dynamic. Most of them revolve around teaching our children the truth of God. “And thou shalt teach [these words] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Also read Deuteronomy 4:9 and 11:19 and Psalm 78:1-8. Ephesians 6:4 exhorts fathers to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Titus 2 contains a detailed instruction to older women, telling them to work with not just their own daughters but with younger women in general—and not really in spiritual, but in physical matters!
The Mentor’s Mind-Set
Following the example of Christ, and the example of the great men of the Bible, starts with thinking like a mentor. Here are two components of the mentor’s mindset:
1) Recognize the person’s potential.
2) Recognize your own power to help them achieve it.
Neither of these godly attributes comes to us naturally. They are contrary to our selfish nature. Both require unselfishness, maturity and big-mindedness. They require seeing people the way God does and then caring enough to actually help them!
This takes effort, concentration and prayer. It also takes sacrifice and time—time you may not want to give, frustration you may wish to do without, sacrifice you would prefer not to make. But that is thinking selfishly. Think like God.
Realize that in addition to benefitting your student, mentoring also benefits you! You need opportunities to think beyond yourself. You need opportunities to think unselfishly, like God. This is intrinsic to the calling of God’s firstfruits. It is the way of the God Family: the way of sacrifice in order to teach others God’s way!
This is a revolutionary concept at the very heart of God’s plan for you: Your life isn’t just about bettering yourself. It’s about bettering yourself through bettering others! It’s about growing by helping others to grow!
Once you have the mind-set to see someone’s potential and to recognize your own power to teach, then you will see these opportunities arise all around you.
Two Components of Mentoring
The act of mentoring includes two components:
1) Provide guidance.
2) Provide opportunities.
Mentoring means giving counsel, offering advice and delivering instruction. It also means arranging opportunities, opening doors and providing challenges—giving assignments that will help your students’ growth.
Young men crave mentors. They want guidance from older men. They desire that focused attention. They may even have an inkling of how much their lives could change with the right guidance and experience.
If you have a son, start with him. Double the amount of time you spend with him. Look for every opportunity to do things together. Think of every little thing you can teach him to prepare him for manhood. Look for appropriate opportunities and challenges to give him.
Once you make headway there, look at other people you can help: people who work for you, your students, other boys and young men in your congregation. Pay attention to them. Show interest. Develop a rapport. Think about whether you can include them in your work, in your plans. Look for opportunities to teach and pass along something of value.
A mentor asks himself these questions: What do I know that can benefit others? Who can benefit from this knowledge? What can I learn that will be useful knowledge to teach others? What do I wish someone had taught me? What opportunities can I provide?
Young people have so many things they need to learn: how to stay focused on a task; how to tie a tie; how to build a fire; how to treat a wound; how to change your oil; how to fix a leak; how to hunt; how to have meaningful conversation; how to treat a woman; how to date; how to be a man of your word—and so on.
“I have set before thee an open door,” the ultimate Mentor wrote in Revelation 3, “and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” These are God’s words to His people, and note that He not only provides us with instruction, but He opens doors—He provides opportunities to help us grow!
Building the God Family
Take on this godly attitude toward others, especially those who are younger than you. Recognize their potential. See them as the future men and women—the future God beings—that they are! That is what God does.
Then, recognize your own power. God gives you the capacity, the experience and the spiritual maturity to make a difference in the lives of young people. Don’t squander it.
Take this especially seriously in regards to your office as a father and your relationship with your son. God has placed far more power than you realize in the office you hold in your son’s life! Remember hard-core, tough-as-nails five-star general Douglas MacArthur who held life and death in his hands for thousands of men, and remember who he thought of at the end of a mission: his dad.
You have the same manly duty that Arthur MacArthur had. This responsibility in many ways determines your real effectiveness as a leader—and the legacy you leave decades after you are gone.
This duty builds the mind-set and the strength of the God Family.
So wake up to your critical duty of biblical manhood: being a mentor!