We often tell a story during our CAYM Mentor Orientation about a mentor who showed up week after week to meet with his protégé. Each week he showed up and waited. Each week the protégé was a no-show. This went on for months until the mentor became so discouraged that his coach called a meeting to investigate the problem. To the mentor’s surprise, the protégé wanted to continue the relationship. In fact, the protégé had been showing up and watching from a distance every week to test the mentor. This young person needed to know that the mentor would be consistent. This story is true, and it encourages the rest of us to keep going – even when our mentoring relationship struggles. This story triggers an important Biblical question: How does the mentor remain hopeful when he/she experiences rejection in the relationship? Here are some thoughts to consider.
First: Stay Connected to Hope
Christians often postpone hope to an eternal fulfillment when God will return and set things right. They think, “It sure is rough now, but someday it will be better.” Truly Christ will return one day and set things right, but hope resides in the present as much as it does in the past and the future. The Christian has an eternal hope because he/she is connected to the past work of Christ (Romans 6:5). The cross won the victory. During times of hardship, it becomes important to remember that the victory won at the cross was purchased through hardship and pain. Through Christ’s pain, he won the victory. The resurrection only makes sense in light of the crucifixion itself. In other words, the victory was won presently as Christ remained faithful during the rejection experienced on that cross. When the mentor endures suffering and rejection, he/she actually wins the victory through the suffering and rejection. Relationship is risky and costly. This was true for Christ and remains true for the believer. Hope endures when the believer becomes confident of God’s current work through pain. This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he wrote that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). God wins the victory simultaneously with the pain. He uses the rejection both to change and grow the mentor and to reveal His unending love for the protégé (Romans 8:37-39).
Second: Remember that Christianity is a Shared Experience
The Christian faith depends on the shared experience described in Romans 6, Galatians 2, and John 16. These passages remind believers that Christ-followers are united with Christ in death, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Christ promises that the Holy Spirit resides in the life of each believer in John 16. Shared experience with God remains one of the most fundamental doctrines of the New Testament. Romans 8:17 reminds us that we share in Christ’s suffering and glory. Philippians 1:7 teaches that we share in God’s grace. Colossians 1:12 mentions that we share in God’s inheritance. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 describes how we share in God’s glory. Take a look at the word “share” in the New Testament and discover many more passages where God promises his kids that life on this earth is always a shared experience with Him – both in times of ease and in times of struggle. God even promises to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us as we pass through the final stage of our life (Psalm 23). He never leaves us nor forsakes us. This is Good News. As the mentor struggles, the confident assurance of God’s abiding within brings hope. God walks with the mentor through the rejection, heartache, disappointment, joy, laughter, and confusion of authentic relationship. Remember, mentor, every one of us remains a protégé of the Lord who always “shows-up” even as we faithfully do the same.