Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

The Best Hidden Church in Norwich

Old to be wise!


Being almost a year older there is something that I find to be one of the most rewarding things of being old – it is that you have more time to give away your wisdom to others. But some people don’t get wiser as they get older; they just get to be old fools. If we are to be useful to others, however, the important thing is to fill ourselves full of God so that we have more of His manner and judgement and less of our own foolishness to give away.

Almost every young man I come across these days is looking for an older man who’ll come alongside and help him come into his own. Mentor is usually the word they use. It is a good word, with rich associations.

According to Homer’s Odyssey, when King Odysseus went off to fight in the Trojan war, he left his son, Telemachus, in the hands of a wise old man named Mentor who was charged with the task of teaching the young man wisdom.

Two thousand years later, the French scholar, Francois Fenelon, who was the tutor to the grandson of Louis XIV, adapted the story of Telemachus in a novel entitled The Adventure of Telemachus, enlarging and popularising the character of Mentor.

The word mentor soon came to have the dictionary meaning of “a wise and responsible tutor,” a more experienced person who advices, guides, inspires, challenges, corrects and serves as a model. The proper name, Mentor, has now become a common noun.

But it can be hard to find a good mentor. There are many people who set themselves up especially in the business world as mentors and charge large fees for their services. Some years ago I attended a conference about mentoring. I asked some of those attending how they were trained and was horrified to hear from some that they felt fully qualified after only attending a week’s training course! Please beware of this type of mentor!

In the Bible we can find some good examples of mentors. Timothy had Paul, Mark had Barnabas, Joshua had Moses, Elisha had Elijah, and Mary had Elizabeth. But where are those older, wiser men and women who will love beginners and help them transcend their difficulties, who will encourage, guide, teach and model the truth for them and thereby strengthen their grip on God?

Paul said to himself, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). If we, like the apostle, keep growing toward God and helping others move in that direction, though our bodies may be declining, our spirits can stay lively and quick. “I can’t help getting older,” a friend of mine says, “but I don’t have to get old.”

Years ago I read an introduction to one of my most used and loved commentaries by the Puritan Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714)  that came to mind as it inspired me so much: “If I may but be instrumental to make (others) wise and good, wiser and better, more watchful against sin and more careful of their duty both to God and man,… more in love with God and His word, I have all I desire, all I aim at.”

Who could ask for anything more?


Go Back


Search Blog