Have you ever had questions you wish you could ask but were afraid of the response you would get?

Do you ever feel like you are misunderstood and don’t know if anyone knows who you really are?

Do you wish you had someone you could talk to one on one and get advice to help you succeed in tough areas of life?

Have you ever felt like you love Jesus, but you don’t understand how being a follower of Jesus applies to every area of your life?

These are common questions, and many of us don’t know how and where to find answers to them. I remember being at my first golf event and watching Phil Mickelson. I overheard some dialogue with his caddie. For years, I thought a caddie just carried the golf bag with the golfer’s last name on their back without speaking or sharing ideas. My perspective soon changed. I heard Mickelson say, “I am going to hit the driver.” His caddie replied, “I think you should hit the 3-wood.” After some dialogue back and forth, his caddie eventually pulled out some notes and showed them to Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson then pulled out the 3-wood and nailed a perfect drive down the center. He smiled at his caddie, giving him a look that expressed his gratitude and indicated that his caddie had been right. It was such an awesome moment for me. Here is one of the best golfers in the world taking advice from his caddie. Now when I see caddies, I think they are geniuses who are crucial to success for pro golfers!

This story reminds me of how we need people in our lives that we trust for advice, wisdom, and counsel. Whether we are just starting out in our faith or if we’ve been following Jesus for years, we never outgrow our need for a mentor.

Have you ever heard about fish being stunted in growth by the size of the tank they live in? It’s true. In the same way, for us to grow even more, we need to get out of our comfort zone and come alive for all we are made to be. Keep dreaming! Once we learn the basics of being rooted in Jesus, we must dig deeper and deeper, desiring to experience more.

This can be helped by working with a mentor or coach who shows you the ropes of how to keep growing in Jesus. Are you excited to go from “milk” to deeper spiritual foods and see all that God has planned for your life? Are you ready to grow from a spiritual baby to a spiritual adult who eats more meaty things (or for vegetarians, more leafy things—no harm intended)? And even for those walking with Jesus for many years, we can go deeper, wider, and stronger! Let’s grow deeper as we learn from “Bigger Trees.”

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 ESV).

The most important area for a coach or mentor is in our relationship with God. We call this Root “Bigger Tree: Finding a ‘Paul’ Mentor.” Paul of the New Testament was a phenomenal leader in Jesus. Paul knew all about failures; he persecuted and killed Christians before Jesus radically transformed his life. God eventually used Paul to write much of the New Testament. Quite a turnaround, huh?

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV).

Paul encouraged other followers of Jesus to follow his example. God wants the same for you—a person whose example you can follow. A “Paul” in your life can help you see how God’s plans are lived out in many areas. It’s an opportunity to learn from a man or woman who has deep Roots in following Jesus.

Paul helped many people discover what it meant to be a follower of Jesus, and he helped many churches and leaders. He was perhaps most noted for his personal interest in a young Jesus follower named Timothy. Paul taught him, encouraged him, corrected him, and helped him grow in the things of Jesus.

Connecting with a “Paul” who has walked in the faith much longer will help you identify how you can keep growing. These people are “Bigger Trees” who can provide us with shade from too much sun, support when we are tired, and insight on what some of the storms they’ve faced and how they made it through. Think of a big tree in a forest and all the life forms that are either living on, in, or nearby that tree. We need a similar relationship to our spiritual mentors; we can tap into their wisdom and experience and hang out with them for a godly, positive influence.

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble (Proverbs 13:20 NLT).

What are some of the things you would like to learn from a mentor? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

Characteristics you want in a “Paul” mentor:

·    Someone who’s the same gender as you; if you are a guy, find a male mentor, and if you are a girl, find a female mentor
·    Someone who cares about you and your well-being
·    Someone who leads you closer to God
·    Someone who helps you with tough topics, encourages when you are struggling, and provides clarity in your life
·    Someone with a teaching spirit and someone to go to war (figuratively) for you
·    Maybe someone you already know and respect
·    Someone who is committed to growing, too

Finding the right person is important, and this should not be something you just jump into. The best mentor friendships are developed over long periods of time. You want to pray that God will lead you to the right person or persons—someone who cares about you and your growth in Jesus and who exhibits great leadership in God-honoring ways.

Here are some ways a “Paul” can help you:

·    Understanding the Bible
·    Handling marriage advice and dating relationships
·    Developing good friends and work habits
·    Responding to school or work situations
·    Managing finances
·    Finding your passion or gifting
·    Avoiding pitfalls
·    Challenging you and stretching you
·    Learning from mistakes

In closing

It’s important that you eventually go deeper in your walk with Jesus. One way to turbo boost that process is to find a mentor to help you along the way. Having a “Paul” in your life will help you succeed when you face challenges and lead you to grow deeper in Jesus. A “Paul” will stretch you, and while that relationship won’t always be easy and won’t always yield what you want to hear, it can help fuel your growth. Remember that a mentor is only a human, and we always need to look to Jesus above all people. If a pattern in this person’s life isn’t adding up, then consider finding a new “Paul.”

Quick review

·    All professionals have a coach of some sort
·    A “Paul” can help in many areas of your life
·    God wants to have someone lead you and show you the way
·    Follow a mentor as he or she follows Jesus