I am not a big fan of Christian celebrities. There are a few, though, that I either want to adopt or have coffee with. Jen Hatmaker is one that I would like to laugh with over a glass of wine and some sweet conversation. I’m old enough to adopt her – but I prefer to think of her as the smart, funny, younger sister. I am saying all this because Jen posted something last week that I have said so many times in so many ways over the years.
“If you carefully and consistently build the right things into your life, into your soul, into your relationships, into your very character: integrity, loyalty, trustworthiness, goodness, compassion, healthy community, honor, faithfulness, love, self-control, kindness – it will all hold when your life unravels.” Jen Hatmaker
As mentors, leaders, coaches – whatever you choose to call yourself – we have to prepare our friends for the day when it all unravels – because it WILL unravel. The storms of illness, death or divorce wreak havoc. Covid-19 strains our relationships and our bank accounts. Aging parents and floundering kids cause us to crumble. If the very hard work of building the solid foundation or planting the deep roots has not already been accomplished it is too late once the storm hits. The very core of our life is not able to take it. We crash. We cave to all the pressures.
Here is what I know about roots. They take time, resources, perseverance and devotion. The Texas sun can shrivel up that newly planted live oak in less than a week without water – and the root stimulator prescribed by the arborist. Trust me on this one! “You didn’t take care of the roots” the guy said. The tree didn’t make it.
Here’s a kicker – we are told in the Bible to rejoice in our suffering because ultimately that is what produces endurance and character. (Romans 5). This character is what a person’s strong roots are made of. So, God intends us to welcome the difficult times because he is using them to grow our roots even deeper.
There was a time when a life storm came with such a furious rush that I doubted if I would survive. A broken marriage was not a storm that I had prepared for. I was untethered. I thought I might not withstand what felt like a hurricane. I would be tossed around and die. But I did survive. The roots were deep below the surface and I was completely unaware that they existed. They were strong from parents and adults who mirrored God’s unconditional love. The resurrection of Christ took on new meaning. All my life I had worshipped the God who is in the business of the resurrection. He resurrects marriages and families, careers and friendships. He proved himself to be true. Often over the years I would run from him, ignore him, try to run my own life and he would pull me back in by his tether of love. God developed my roots through my own mentors who taught me how to be a good friend. Loving friendships – and making loads of mistakes – have developed even stronger roots.
Scriptures teach us that we actually can be “filled up” with the fullness of God. This is not a mamby-pamby god who has excused himself from your life – but the Creator who actually offers his very fullness to YOU. The way that happens is being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3)
Mentors are in a unique position to walk with our mentees when the storms rage– the bottom falls out – life crumbles. They may not recognize the roots that are there. You can help reveal them. More importantly, I believe, our relationships with mentees can be the “root stimulator” of life. We love unconditionally, we teach, we challenge, we listen, we shoulder the storms that help the life grow strong.
Then with no reservations we can say like Paul did, “Start living! Your roots are there and they are deep.”
“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” Colossians 3:5-6