Looking to Others to Help Us Grow


Having a mentor is important for growing and maturing as individuals. A mentor is often thought of as a wise and faithful advisor or teacher. We can find mentors in work, in school, in church, and in family. I would like to focus on personal, spiritual growth and who our mentors may be. They may very well be our parents or grandparents, a person who sits next to us in the pews for services, a Sunday School teacher, a clergyman who served in a parish in which we worshiped, or one of the myriads of saints of the Church.

St. Paul reminds us that we are the saints of Christ. The believers are the saints. In fact, in today’s epistle reading (2Tim 3:10-15) we see what true mentorship was to Timothy as St. Paul explains why the relationship they shared was so instrumental to Timothy’s leadership in the Church and his growth as a believer in Christ.

St. Paul tells him, “Timothy, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness…” Are these not the key elements of what we think of mentorship today? Paul teaches Timothy by his example and encourages him to continue to embrace his faith in Christ. These characteristics are key to spiritual growth and the manner in which Paul conveys them is not by description, but by reminding Timothy that ‘you have observed’ how I lived.

However, St. Paul does not stop with only positive attributes of faith, but goes on to describe things within his life that have challenged his faith, “my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured.” Paul did not want to endure persecutions and suffering. Not everything goes according to what we think we deserve or desire. Yet as steel tempers steel making it stronger, the adversity Paul faced also provided evidence of God’s grace, mercy and compassion. Paul gives witness to Timothy and to us, “yet from them all, the Lord rescued me” and made him stronger.

In today’s terms, Paul was Timothy’s mentor, but he is so much more than that, for he continues to provide witness to Christ’s presence and love today. We can look to Paul, or other saints as our ‘mentors’ as well, and see how continued spiritual growth and faithfulness can enhance our lives. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” As we enter the Triodion period on the way to Great Lent, let us all focus our attention on our spiritual growth looking to those who have been our guides, our mentors, along the way.