Taking the time to mentor someone is an investment that can have far reaching effects.

In my early twenties I studied theology at a school in the North of England. The main building was a former English country home that looked distinctly like a castle. It stood within a large rural estate that included a number of cottages where several of the staff lived. One was the home of a favourite teacher of mine, Dr Alan Redpath.

All the students were assigned a weekly duty. For one term, every Saturday morning, I served as the Redpath’s gardener. This was a bit of a joke given my lack of gardening skills. Thankfully for all concerned, Dr Redpath would often use this time as an opportunity to mentor me.

I’d get out the gardening tools and within no time at all, this towering man and former rugby player, would carry out a tray of Earl Grey tea and call a break. Even if he’d just arrived home that morning from a punishing speaking schedule, this routine continued.

Over tea and biscuits we would talk about life and faith, and I had the privilege of learning from the experience of this amazing man who was then in his late seventies. Even though he had an impressive international profile and reputation, he was very humble and down-to-earth. The lessons of life that I picked up from him in these conversations were invaluable. But the greatest of these was his choice to serve me as a mentor when I should have been serving him as a gardener.

We all need encouragement in life. One of the best ways this can happen is when someone older makes the sacrifice of time to take an interest in the progress of someone younger, to their benefit.

Although Dr Redpath has since passed away, his choice to mentor me all those years ago constantly inspires me to take the time to mentor others. It’s an investment that will always outlive us and has the potential to positively affect succeeding generations.

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