Wednesday Wisdom 🙂
The inspiration for this post comes from Dr. Tom Osborne and his book Mentoring Matters.
Supporting scripture comes from 1 Peter 3:8-9.
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.
About 10 days ago, my favorite farmer and I attended a fundraiser for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Tom Osborne was the featured speaker. Anyone who has spent any time in Nebraska is familiar with Dr. Tom. He coached the Husker football team for 25 years leading them to multiple National Championships before becoming our 3rd District Congressman from 2001-2007. While Dr. Tom is famous for many things, I believe that his greatest gift is tied to mentoring kids.
Dr. Tom’s personal mentoring in the classroom and on the football field grew to include the creation of an amazing mentoring organization in the early 1990’s. At this time, Tom and his wife Nancy founded the TeamMates organization. Over the last twenty seven years, TeamMates has grown from a local Lincoln mentoring effort to encompass programs in multiple states that impact tens of thousands of kids each year. TeamMates pairs students with local community mentors in an effort to offer support and guidance to our young people during a critical time in their lives.
Dr. Tom believes that the key to healing our broken country can be found in sharing agape. He defines agape as “unconditional, selfless love for another”. It is willing the best for another person regardless of the depth of your relationship or their behavior toward you. Agape is about what is in your heart, and showing a supportive attitude toward others independent of their behavior / feelings toward you. It takes a tremendous strength in character to show universal agape. Dr. Tom points out that this type of love provides a critical component for a mentor’s success.
When I think of agape, my mind goes to Jesus and his journey on earth. The Bible is full of examples of Jesus turning the other cheek — loving unconditionally — and sharing blessings with all. He preached that love covered a multitude of sins and demonstrated that purpose came from sharing cheerfully of ourselves in order to help others.
- It’s hard to be kind – even when others hurt us.
- It’s hard to show love – to everyone.
- It’s hard to commit to being selfless – looking outside of circumstances to remain positively supportive.
Although I try, this challenges me daily. The spiritual maturity needed to positively improve takes constant intentional focus. It requires changing what is in your heart and building the habit of sharing agape.
I’ve been blessed to spend significant periods of time coaching and mentoring kids in my community. I’ve had moments of inspiration when I found the right words – chose the right actions – and made a meaningful difference in the lives of the kids whose paths intersect with mine. I’ve also had times of mistake when I allowed my insecurities or hurt feelings to affect my level of support. I regret my mistakes and I wish that I could get those times back.
I find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus allows for forgiveness. I move forward, always trying to get better, because I know that it matters.
How I share – What I share. It makes a difference.
Each child that touches my life inspires me and brings meaning to my journey. I hope that my support will allow them to believe that their lives hold meaning. That all of our actions – together – can help to build a culture of love. We are all children of God.
When we all strive to share agape, perhaps we will find the key.
Are you willing to open your heart and try?