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Seven Friendships Every Man Needs: Gathering Your Pit Crew for the Race of Your Life

Seven Friendships Every Man Needs: Gathering Your Pit Crew for the Race of Your Life

by Justin Erickson

Learn More | Meet Justin Erickson

Chapter 1

You Need a Godly Mentor to Disciple You

This book is about having a select group of men in your life who are committed to your personal spiritual victory. I 've invited you to think of yourself as a high-performance race car and your life as a track. Like NASCAR drivers, men are generally intense, go hard, and are high octane. We love a challenge and crave a victory.

If you 've ever been to an auto race, you know the smell of exhaust and burnt rubber. It 's probably toxic, but exhilarating. It 's electrifying to watch the cars warm up and the drivers do their final checks. Everyone 's adrenaline surges when the cars line up at the start with motors revving. Every driver who waits for the green light has a mental picture of himself crossing the finish line first. He thinks about it every day. He is also aware that it takes almost nothing to spin out—and that doing so could cost him the race, his career, or even his life. If he gets too close to another car or doesn 't hold the proper tension on the wheel, it could be over before he realizes it.

I want you to finish well, spiritually speaking. Many guys do finish well, but more guys don 't. I 've seen men spin out, blow out, and flame out. For guys, the most common cause for elimination comes from one of three things: gold, glory, or girls. Gold, the love of money and what it buys. Glory, when pride and ego get in the way. Girls caused the strongest, wisest, and godliest men of the Old Testament to crash and burn (Samson, Solomon, and David respectively).

If you 're going to win, you must see that your success on the track of life is not so much a matter of your ability to handle yourself. Every driver whose car has crossed first under the checkered flag knows he didn 't win on his own. It wasn 't his performance on the track that gave him the victory. It was the men in his pit crew that kept him on the track. They are as much responsible for the win, and maybe even more. There is no victory without them.

In this chapter, I want to speak to you about your crew chief. He 's that experienced voice of wisdom in your ear, guiding you throughout the race. He knows the track because he 's been on it before and won. He also knows you, your temperaments and impulses as a driver. Because he was once in your seat, he 's an expert at when to brake and when to hit the gas. He 's also aware of what a race car can do and cannot do under intense pressure. He anticipates other drivers ' next steps and knows how to navigate through the harrowing maze of speeding cars all around you.

A crew chief is unlike any other member on the pit team. Everyone has a part and must be fully engaged to ensure a victory, but the crew chief is the most strategic. In racing, he doesn 't do everything, but he 's instrumental in everything. He oversees the building of the car 's body, how the springs and shocks are adjusted, the level of air pressure in the tires—everything. He lives to see you succeed. He lends his knowledge and ability to communicate critical decisions in a split second. His nerves of steel allow him to rise above the pressure and think clearly so you can win. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Your crew chief functions like a coach and a manager. He 's not the owner. That 's Jesus. But Jesus brings him alongside you to help you make some critical decisions in your life. In short, you need a mentor.

The Vital Role of a Mentor

All mentoring relationships are different. There 's no "one size fits all." Some relationships are formal, while others are informal. The duration can be short-term or lifelong. Some will be intensely focused on vital issues like conflict, finances, parenting, and ministry. But most are "life-on-life" role models. All of them can say, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

You see that variety reflected in the biblical examples of discipleship. Consider Jethro and Moses, Moses and Joshua, or Jesus and the apostles. These examples show that you don 't have to limit yourself to one mentoring style or one person. In fact, you shouldn 't. No one person perfectly models all the qualities of Christlikeness. Different men have different strengths. At this point in my spiritual journey, I 've had the privilege of being mentored by nine different men. Each of them have had a different influence in my life. I saw something of Christ in them that I didn 't see in me, and I am more like Jesus because of them.

The best example for our purposes is the one-on-one discipling relationship between Paul and Timothy, which began in Acts 16:

    Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily (verses 1-5).

As the story goes, Paul had been looking for a replacement for John Mark, who at the time turned out to be a colossal failure. Returning to the region where he had been beaten and stoned, Paul discovered a young man who had God 's hand on him. Timothy possessed certain qualities that Paul sought, and Timothy was willing and available. It was that simple of a start. Neither man would ever be the same again. The legacy of Christianity would pass from one generation to the next because of this connection.

Timothy filled a crucial gap for Paul, and Paul did the same in return. We learn in the text that Timothy 's mom "was a believer, but his father was a Greek." The contrast is there to help us understand that Timothy did not have a spiritual father. His biological father was not saved. His mother and grandmother were Jews who had embraced Jesus as their Messiah (2 Timothy 1:5), but his father had not. Dad was in the picture, but he was not a Christian.

We don 't know much of the backstory, except that the issue of how to raise Timothy would have caused a conflict. From the text, we know that Timothy 's dad wouldn 't let his wife get Timothy circumcised, which was a big deal in Jewish culture. Circumcision was the first display of hope that believing Jewish parents had for their boys. It identified them with the covenant of Abraham. It came with the prayer that one day their sons would believe in the same God and follow Him. Dad said no, but his mother 's prayers were still answered. Timothy eventually became a Christian.

I feel a lot like Timothy in the sense that I never had a dad. My biological dad left when I was born. He didn 't want a son. My second dad was enslaved to alcohol. He wasn 't a believer and often trashed our house in fits of rage. Tragically, he ended his own life just before he turned 50. I 'd give the world to have him back.

But when God saved me, He showed me that He was my true Father. He had allowed me to experience that vacuum so that when I saw my need for God, I would ask Him to fill the gap left by my earthly fathers. Then the Lord saw fit to put other strong men into my life who would mentor me in the areas where I was misshaped as a child. That 's what Paul gave to Timothy. He stepped in as a spiritual father and considered Timothy his son in the faith:

    That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17).

    You know Timothy 's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel (Philippians 2:22).

That 's what you 're looking for and need—an older, godlier man with whom you can live out your faith in a real way. But you have to allow him into your life. For you to grow, you will have to let him come at you from four different directions.

Four Key Ways a Mentor Can Help You

Direction #1: Let Him Impart Truth to You

In the New Testament, the word disciple means "learner." It means to place yourself under someone else 's influence to help you become a better follower of God. A disciple learns truth, but this involves more than just Bible knowledge. You don 't know it until you do it. The truth has to own you, and you have to own it.

As it relates to your spiritual development, your mentor imparts wisdom and strengthens your convictions. A conviction is a governing principle for life. It centers on divine truth and describes those things that you are deeply persuaded are true. They are realities you would live to proclaim and die to defend. No mentoring is biblical discipleship without the Word of God.

The person you 're looking for can teach you sound doctrine and train you to be a student of Scripture. He should know how to handle God 's Word and teach you how to understand it for yourself. Your conversations should be able to trace back to "chapter and verse." It doesn 't have to be formal, like a sermon, but there should be lots of interaction with the biblical text.

My first mentor, Russell Taylor, did this for me. I grew up in an atheist home and came to Christ with no clue about anything spiritually. All I knew was that Christ had changed my life, but not much else. I didn 't know what I didn 't know. I was susceptible to any form of false teaching. For the next two years, we spent a lot of time together. We talked about God 's Word and I peppered him with questions. His default was, "Well, the Bible says...," and then he would take out his Bible and show me. As he modeled how to interpret the Bible, he then used that to help me interpret the world around me. The more time we spent together, the easier it became for me to figure things out on my own. Simple, but life-changing.

That 's what a spiritual mentor offers: exposure to the truth of Scripture, rightly interpreted. You 're looking for a Paul, not a penguin. Penguins feed their young in a most interesting way. First they catch the fish and digest them inside their own stomachs for several hours. Then they regurgitate the slimy chunks and deposit them into their chick 's beak. Discipleship might be a little bit like that at first, but the goal is to get you to learn how to feed yourself. You want someone to teach you the truth and how to discover it on your own.

Paul did this with Timothy. He labored to instill some spiritual nonnegotiables into his disciple—truths that would hold him long after Paul was gone. You can read many of them in 1 and 2 Timothy, but consider some of Paul 's final words to his disciple in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

    You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (NASB).

You may already be familiar with verses 16-17, which affirm the importance of God 's Word. According to Paul, the Bible does four things for us. First, it teaches us God 's standards. Next, it reveals where we fall short of those standards. Third, Scripture puts us back into alignment with His will. And finally, it instills new patterns of righteousness in us. When God 's Word has it 's way with us, we become "adequate, equipped for every good work." The Bible can make each of us "the man of God" He wants us to be.

Notice the context in which that promise was given. It follows a command. Paul told Timothy to "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of." He was to keep going in the truth, to persevere in godliness. He could do this not only because he had learned "the sacred writings"—lots of people know the Bible. Rather, Timothy could persevere because he had become "convinced of" it. Somewhere along the way, the information he had learned "from childhood" became the beliefs that made him who he was. He knew it, then he owned it. And in 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul called upon Timothy to "continue in" the truth.

Now, when Timothy rolled back the rest of Paul 's scroll, he learned that Paul was at the end of hi slife. He was about to die, martyred at the hands of Nero. Soon he would be in heaven. Timothy might never see his mentor again, but the convictions Paul had deposited into Timothy would remain long after Paul was gone. That is, if Timpthy could grasp one simple fact: The key to maintaining your convictions is remembering those who imparted them to you.

Paul explained how this happens: "Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them." See it? Biblical content translates into biblical convictions through relationships. Regurgitating Bible facts doesn 't make you a godly man. Character is not developed in a lecture hall. Hearing someone expound something eternally fascinating doesn 't mean you 've forged that information into convictions. There 's no guarantee that you 'll be more effective for Christ because you study the Bible in-depth. The secret to continuing in the truth is the relationship you have with your mentors.

I 've had some of the best Bible training in the world. I was privileged to learn God 's Word at the highest level from some of the most amazing teachers—some of their names will go down in church history. I thank God every day for the teaching I received. But an alarming number of men who have been exposed to the same teaching no longer believe what they learned. Many of them have defected morally, and some of them don 't even believe in God. The problem wasn 't with the Bible or the teachers. Rather, it was the backward approach utilized by these students. They are like the "slide climbers" at the playground who go up the slide the wrong way.

As a dad with five kids, I find myself at the park a lot. There 's always at least one kid on the playground who wants toget to the top of the jungle gym by going up the slide the wrong way. The "slide climber" won 't use the ladder. Instead, he attempts to get to the top another way. If he gets enough of a running start or can position his footing just right, he can finagle his way up the steep six-foot summit. If he is successful, that will allow him to justify his creative approach, but ultimately, he went up the wrong way. He might be able to maintain his balance and even learn to fall safely, but eventually he is going to get a foot in his face from any kid who goes down the slide in the correct manner. It will be even worse if multiple kids go down the slide at the same time. Then they will all come crashing down at the bottom together.

The same is true in the spiritual realm. You can try to climb to the top spiritually in a backward way and deceive yourself into thinking that because you reached the top, your approach is valid. You can reason that you have the skill to go up a different way than what is prescribed and bypas the discipleship ladder altogether. You can convince yourself that because you 've never had a serious fall, you are able to slip safely. But just like those "slide climbers" on the playground, one false step and you will crash, sliding down to the bottom, right where you started—humiliated, bruised, and potentially having injured those who followed you. Let 's not learn this lesson the hard way. The ideal way to the top is to go up the discipleship ladder, step by step.

Please don 't get me wrong. Intense Bible study is totally worth your time. We should all aspire to rightly handle the Scriptures. But put them in their proper context alongside a mentor, and you will have the best combination. Paul taught Timothy the place of truth in his heart, conscience, and faith. He showed Timothy how it influenced his prayers, priorities, and purity. It addressed his weaknesses, insecurities, afflictions, and temptations. There was nothing left untouched by truth.

Paul taught Timothy by imparting information to him in the best context for learning: imitation.

Direction #2: Let Him Model Christ for You

If Paul emphasized anything in his training of Timothy, it 's that character is king. Far and away, godliness is infinitely more important than giftedness. As it relates to your spiritual development, your mentor can help you hone the qualities of a man of God. The truth he imparts is meant to change your heart and conduct. Sound doctrine equals sound living. Consider Paul 's words to Timothy in the following passage:

    You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me (2 Timothy 3:10-11).

Timothy had seen Paul 's conduct up close. He was an eyewitness to how selflessly Paul would spend his life in service for others. He had heard Paul teach and preach on countless occasions. Timothy watched him labor to the point of exhaustion to bring the truth to others. He would have rejoiced with Paul at the conversion of lost sinners. He would have wept with Paul over churches who were seduced by false teaching. He would have learned to pray as he traveled with the apostle. He knew what drove Paul. He had seen Paul beaten, insulted, rejected, ridiculed, and betrayed, only to respond without retaliation. Can 't fake that.

For Paul, there was no "Do as I say, not as I do." He supplied the living example of all that he taught. Not that he was perfect, but Paul refused to tolerate hypocrisy in his life. He was conscious of its devastating effects. That 's whay he took great "pains to have a clear conscience before God and man" (Acts 24:16). That 's how he could say with integrity, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us" (Philippians 3:17).

Timothy was privy to all this. And because Paul had modeled this to Timothy, he knew what to look for in the men he would exalt as the standard in Ephesus.

    The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God 's church? (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

Paul insisted that anyone in spiritual leadership "must be above reproach." That means those who lead should not be guilty of gross or unrepentant sin in their lives. There 's no dirty secret that would discredit the ministry or besmirch the name of Christ. We all know examples of leaders who are endowed with amazing abilities but their lifestyle is a wreck. People stop listening to these leaders because their sin gets in the way.

The most important phrase in 1 Timothy 3:1-5 is "must be above reproach." That 's a nonnegotiable. There is to be no lowering of the standard to accommodate mediocre men. But neither are we to expect perfection. Being above reproach means living life in a Godward direction so that you become more Christlike. That 's the most important feature of a godly man.

It 's also important to realize these qualifications are not limited to "professional Christians." The call to be above reproach is repeated for all of us in Philippians 2:15. All of these qualities are commanded elsewhere for all believers. Leaders aren 't held to a higher standard. Rather, they are more accountable to the same standard as the rest of us (James 3:1).

A prospective mentor must have a track record of godliness if he is going to lead you. Keep in mind that you are going to have to be around him often enough and close enough so that you can learn from him. If he is married, you will want to see how he loves and serves his wife, and how he reacts when his kids misbehave. You need to have a vantage point from which to see him under pressure, when someone wants to draw him into conflict. Your proximity to him should afford an ongoing view of his work ethic, his spending habits, and what path his eyes take when an attractive woman walks by. Mentoring is modeling, and that can 't happen ffrom a distance.

Direction #3: Let Him Fix the Flaws in You

The closer you get to your Paul, the more he is going to see your weaknesses and fatal flaws. Weaknesses are those areas in which you work from a distinct disadvantage. A fatal flaw is more serious—it is a moral defect that could completely sideline you if left unchecked, and eventually it will ruin you and others. As men, we all have weaknesses and fatal flaws, but we don 't like inviting others in to see or fix them. It 's embarassing to have someone poking around and discover the things that shame us—the areas in which we need the most help. We would rather keep other men at a distance. It 's safer that way—or so we think.

But if your mentor is going to help you, you 're going to have to be authentic. And being authentic requires you to be transparent. Your Paul needs access to you and the freedom to speak into your life. Here are five areas in which Timothy needed Paul 's help.

  • He felt the pressure of being a young man whose inexperience caused people not to respect him, and he didn 't know how to step it up (1 Timothy 4:12).
  • He looked too closely at his inadequacies and began to neglect his spiritual gifts (1 Timothy 4:14-16).
  • He found it hard to carry the burdens of ministry, which made him physically ill (1 Timothy 5:23).
  • He let his fears get to him, which caused him to back away from conflict and problems (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • He succumbed to the pressure to be ashamed of Paul, the gospel, and even Jesus Himself (2 Timothy 1:8).

Timothy had inadequacies that he needed to shore up so he could maximize his potential, and his fatal flaws could go so far as to cause him to self-destruct and take out others with him. Inexperience and feelings of inadequacy put him at a disadvantage, and his lack of emotional and physical stamina made it harder to endure harsh treatment. Fear had the potential to take him off mission and give occasion for the enemy to take over and undo everything he and Paul had built. Unwilling to let that happen, Paul moved toward Timothy to help him diffuse his own bomb.

I remember when TSA (Transportation Security Administration) first came out with full-body X-ray scans at airports. At first, everyone understood the need for them in a post-9/11 world. Basic metal detection isn 't enough. The security upgrades meant longer lines, but no one wanted to relive that September morning. However, general acceptance turned into a passionate outcry when the public learned the images generated by the full-body scanners were see-all. Virtually nude pictures of every traveler took transparency to a whole new level. Security was now a severe invasion of privacy. It didn 't matter that the person viewing the screen was away from the public in a back room—the scanner was too probing.

Today it 's more reasonable. TSA workers see only a somewhat cartoonlike representation of the traveler. If a potentially suspicious object is detected, a bright yellow box appears on the silhouette over the area of concern. Prospective threats are still identified, but travelers retain some sense of privacy (and dignity). It 's a more balanced situation for now.

We applaud those who invented the technology that keeps us safe, and we should feel the same way toward mentors who help keep a watchful eye on us. Everyone is better off when the things that threaten our well-being get removed. Mentoring is not a spiritual see-all, but you do want to allow your mentor to get close enough that he can address any areas of concern in your life. He needs to know the real you. If you hold him at arm 's length, he can 't help you. You must be honest with him.

One of the most practical things you can do with your Paul is invite and receive his feedback. Evaluation, even when it 's highly critical, is the breakfast of champions. We don 't grow as well when all people are willing to say is, "Good job...that was great!" Affirmation instills confidence, true enough. But we cannot improve unless we also know the ways in which we are falling short. Get in the habit of asking your mentor questions like these:

  • How could I have done that better?
  • What do you see that I am missing in this?
  • Where do you see me getting distracted from what 's most important?
  • Is there anything I 'm doing that could be a fatal flaw?
  • What one thing should I focus on that will make the greatest difference?

Listen to his answers, even if they don 't come in the package you like. Work toward solutions and put a plan in place. Let him hold you accountable to that plan. And if you fall, fall forward.

In 2016, American sprinter Jenna Prandini accidentally fell forward yet won her bid to compete in the 200-meter event for the Olympics. In the qualifying race, as Jenna kept pace with her opponents, she lost her footing and staggered, but stayed composed as she fell forward across the finish line. By learning how to fall forward, Jenna advanced to the Olympics by 0.01 of a second. Jenna Prandini didn 't intentionally dive to win, but she did illustrate a spiritual reality. You can win even if you fall down in the race. You just have to fall forward.

That 's legal in footraces and spiritual races. Having a mentor doesn 't guarantee you won 't stumble and fall. It means you will have a coach who can tell you how to fall down and still win.

Direction #4: Let Him Entrust Responsibilities to You

Enlisting a Paul is like recruiting a coach—a life trainer. He is going to prod you further, drive you harder, and work you longer than you would ever do on your own. He will push you so as to bring out the best in you. He will give you a vision for what your life can be, and opportunities to apply what you 're learning. Your growth will be measurable.

Your Paul is concerned that you see your unique gifts and abilities and know how to exercise them. And he will provide you with a platform to use them for the good of others and the glory of God. The more faithful you are, the more opportunities your mentor will open. He will be happy to stand at the back of the room and shine the spotlight on you.

Bible teacher John MacArthur has compiled a helpful list of responsibilities that Paul gave to Timothy in his letters. Paul expected Timothy to take action and lead in Paul 's absence. These responsibilities speak not only of the duties Timothy had, but the confidence Paul had in knowing Timothy would carry them out. Here 's a sample from that list, meant to be read slowly.

  • Correct those who teach false doctrine and call them to a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:3-5).
  • Discipline himself for the purpose of godliness (4:7-11).
  • Be gracious and gentle in confronting the sin of his people (5:1-2).
  • Guard the Word of God as a sacred trust and a treasure (6:20-21).

In his second epistle, Paul reminded Timothy to do the following:

  • Keep the gift of God in him fresh and useful (2 Timothy 1:6).
  • Suffer difficulty and persecution willingly, while making the maximum effort ofr Christ (2:3-7).
  • Lead with authority (2:14).
  • Interpret and apply Scripture accurately (2:15).
  • Not be an arguer but be kind, teachable, gentle, and patient, even when wronged (2:24-26).
  • Be sober in all things and endure hardship (4:5).

This is a great list to use as a reference point with your mentor. None of these responsibilities are automatic or downloadable. They require the hard work of discipleship with a mentor. And here 's a secret: You don 't have to be a pastor to do most of them. Every item on this list is relevant to you in some way. regardless of your station in life.

Was Timothy capable of carrying out this level of responsibility at the beginning? Definitely not. Paul built him up to it. As a wise mentor, he entrusted his disciple with opportunities consistent with his abilities. Then he built from there. He took Timothy from being faithful in little to faithful in much.

When the Driver Becomes the Crew Chief

One of the happiest days in the life of a mentor is the one on which he can deploy and enjoy his disciple. A discipler is trying to get his disciple to the place where he won 't need him anymore. My greatest joy is to see those whom I disciple making wise choices on their own—decisions that set the trajectory for the rest of their lives to continue in a Godward direction. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when I see them solving life 's problems on their own and taking serious ownership of the solutions through to the end. I genuinely love watching them take the initiative to grow independent of me by accumulating knowledge, wisdom, and understanding—truth that will remain when I am gone. I become excited as I watch them form relationships with others whom I know will ultimately replace me—relationships in which there will be stability, accountability, and authenticity. Simply put, a mentor is aware that eventually, he will reach the place at which he knows his disciple has "got it." No one will reach perfection, but every person should strive toward consistent patterns of right thinking and right living.

Timothy went on to reach a place where he didn 't need his hand held. I 'm sure he would have wanted Paul around forever to answer his questions and critique his decisions, but that was no longer necessary. Timothy was going to cross the finish line just fine. There was nothing else for Paul to impart. Timothy had mastered the track. Sure, there would be other races and racetracks, different turns and terrains. But because of Paul 's influence, Timothy would do well. Better still, Timothy had become skilled to the point that it was his turn to speak into someone else 's ear. The driver was becoming a crew chief.

Who is your crew chief? Most men I ask have never had one. I wouldn 't take another lap around the track without my crew chief. Once you 've found that man, strap on your helmet, make sure your headset is turned on, and push the volume all the way up so that your Paul can help you excel as you navigate your way to the finish line.

Important Takeaways to Remember
  • Your success on the track of life is not so much a matter of your ability to handle yourself, but your willingness to pull together a pit crew that keeps you going on well. There is no victory without a pit crew.
  • A disciple learns truth, but discipleship is more than simply acquiring Bible knowledge. You don 't know it until you do it.
  • The key to maintaining your convictions is remembering those who imparted them to you. The secret to continuing in those convictions is the relationships you 've had with your mentors.
  • One of the best ways to learn is through imitation. Find a godly man whose example you can follow. Mentoring is modeling, and that can 't happen from a distance.
  • A weakness is an area at which you work from a distinct disadvantage. A fatal flaw is a moral defect that could completely sideline you and ruin you and others if left unchecked.
  • For guys, the most common fatal flaws are gold, glory, and girls.
  • Growth doesn 't mean you don 't fall down. You can win even if you fall. You just have to fall forward.
  • Feedback is vital to spiritual growth. You cannot improve unless you know the ways in which you are falling short. Invite and receive input, even if it doesn 't come in the package you like.
  • There is a right way and a wrong way to approach goldiness. It 's a tempting way to try to get to the top faster by going backward, but you will not avoid slipping and falling. Use the discipleship ladder.

Finding Your Paul

In the relationship between Paul and Timothy, it was Paul who initiated the connection. Timothy was willing and available. That doesn 't mean you have to wait around for someone to ask to mentor you—you could be waiting a long time. If you don 't have a mentor, find one. But just as race car drivers should be selective in their choice of a crew chief, so should you make sure you find the right mentor. Here are some things you can do now to get started:

  1. Paul spotted Timothy as someone whom he wanted to disciple because Timothy was already growing in his walk. Timothy had the potential that would make mentoring a worthwhile investment for Paul. As you think about your spiritual growth, what can you point to that would catch the eye of a crew chief? Why would someone want to mentor you? Write down what you see, and why you would be up for the challenge.
  2. This chapter discussed how a mentor helps you shore up weaknesses and fix fatal flaws. be honest with yourself and identify any shortcomings that could hinder you from reaching your full potential in Christ. Are any of them fatal flaws? These need the attention of a mentor. Make a list of your top three potential fatal flaws. As you do so, consider the ones listed in this chapter: gold, glory, and girls. Which of your flaws has the strongest pull on you, and what do you need to do to overcome that pull?
  3. Titus 2 describes discipling relationships among men in the context of a high-impact church ministry. Read that chapter and write down what you learn about how men should help other men grow, and what the outcome ought to be. List the qualities of a godly mentor and a growing disciple:
  4. Review John MacArthur 's partial list of duties that Paul gave Timothy to perform. You dod not need to be a pastor to carry out these responsibilities. Go back and circle the three items in the list that you think would make the most difference in your life if a mentor were to model them for you. Then start looking for someone who excels in these areas and ask him if he would be willing to teach you how he does those things. Do the names of any prospective mentors come to mind right now?

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