Walt Kowalski was a grumpy old man who didn’t care much for anybody.
Clint Eastwood directed, produced and starred in Gran Torino, a movie detailing Walt’s life as a bitter recently widowed Korean War veteran. He didn’t like his family who was after his money, the priest who badgered him about church or his Hmong neighbors-except for the daughter. She had a knack for seeing through his tough exterior.
And it was her who appealed for Walt’s help. A gang was pressuring her brother to join their ranks. Things heated up when Walt caught Thao-the brother, trying to steal his Gran Torino as part of his initiation. But Walt was destined for another change of heart, one that transformed him from hated neighbor to beloved mentor. He spent time with Thao, taught him skills, encouraged him to resist the gang and in the end died for him.
That’s what mentors do. Paul was one to young Timothy and called him “my true son in the faith.” (I Timothy 1:2)
Mentoring may be the new buzz word, but the practice is as old as time itself. Mentors are our heroes and examples; the people we look up to, idolize and want to be like when we grow up. We trust their advice and ask for it. Sometimes we even think they walk on water. Sunday School teachers, Camp counselors, school teachers, coaches, preachers and employers. They possess qualities setting them apart from the average Joe. Mentors are friends at higher levels.
Is there someone you can come alongside? Push to a higher level? Cultivate? Rescue from a life of destruction? It requires time, sacrifice, guts, common interests, good chemistry, and most of all commitment. But the rewards of knowing you’ve helped change a life course are worth the sacrifices.
We all need mentors and occasionally have the high privilege of being one. God understands. Love of mentoring cost him his Son’s life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, guide us to the ones You want us to guide along.