“I am a fan of your future.”


Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with some teachers and coaches from my high school years.  These reunions were so special.  These five men and women played a huge role in shaping me and making me the woman I am today.  Each of them not only shared their talents and abilities with their students, they shared themselves.  They cared about us and invested themselves in us.  Although more than 30 years had passed since I had seen most of them, the connection that we shared hadn’t changed.   I was again inspired just by being with them.

Throughout my lifetime, God has blessed me with some of His best people to guide, mentor and coach me.  I am so grateful for each and every one of them.  While I just had the opportunity to spend time with five of them, there have been many, many others.  (You all know who you are.)  And I am so thankful that God continues to put mentors in my life.  Each one of them is a precious gift to me.

If any of you are a Pixar fan like I am, perhaps you saw “Cars 3,” which came out last year.  I went to see it simply because I was a fan of the first two installments of the series, but I was pleasantly surprised, as the movie unfolded, that it’s theme was about the power of mentoring.

God always finds interesting ways of speaking to me and one of His ways is through movies.  Cars 3 was no exception.  He showed me things through that movie that reminded me of the powerful gift that mentoring is.  Here are just a few highlights of what He showed me.

Good mentors believe in you.lightning drives into racing center

When Lightning McQueen is faced with the reality that his racing abilities can’t compete with younger, faster race cars he has a choice to make.  He can either give up racing or change the way he trains.  He decides to stay in the game and seek out a new way to become a better racer.  His sponsors recognize that they do not have the ability to take him to the next level, so they sell their company, Rust-eze, to someone who has greater resources and can make Lightning a faster race car.  When Lightning arrives at his new training center, the foyer of this state-of-the-art facility is essentially a museum dedicated to his career.  His number, 95, stands two stories high at the entrance.  He is awestruck.

As I watched this scene unfold the words that ran through my mind were, “They believe in him!”  Imagine feeling like you were washed up, a loser, barely hanging on to the only thing you know how to do and arriving at a place of last resort – a place where you would either make it or break it.  The last thing you would expect would be a foyer set up as a shrine in your honor.

Lightning McQueen, after seeing this vast display of memorabilia from his career says, “Wow.  You really are a fan.”  To which his new sponsor replies, “I am a fan of your future.”

That is what mentors are.  They don’t see our failures, they see our future.  They believe in us in spite of what our “stats” look like and in spite of our “win/lose” column.  They see us.  They see us for who we are and who we can become.  They see our potential.  They see in us what we cannot see in ourselves.  That has definitely been my experience.    And no gift can be greater than someone believing in you.

SIDE NOTE AND SPOILER ALERT:  Lightning’s new sponsor turns out to be somewhat of a villain in the story and not a mentor to him at all.  But more on true mentorship in a moment.  Read on.

Good mentors have good mentors. smokey's garage cars 3

Lightning McQueen’s mentor, Doc Hudson (The Fabulous Hudson Hornet) passed away years earlier.  But, we learn in Cars 3, that Doc Hudson himself had a mentor named, Smokey.  As Lightning longs for direction and guidance he turns to the only one who might be able to guide him like his mentor would.  He ventures out and ultimately finds his mentor’s mentor, Smokey.

I can only assume that the mentors in my life had significant people in their lives who mentored them along the way.  Their willingness to give of themselves is evidence to me that they have received from the generous love and outpouring of others.

As God gives me the opportunity to mentor others I do so with passion.  I want to give to others what I have been given.  I want to do my mentors proud by giving others what I have received.

The mentoring relationship is unique in that it’s not designed to be reciprocal.  It’s designed to be perpetual.  My mentors don’t want to receive from me what they have given me, just as I don’t want to receive from those I mentor.  But what I do hope for my mentees, is that they get the opportunity to pour into another’s life.  Because as great as it is to receive, it is even greater to give back.

Which brings me to my favorite scene in Cars 3.

There is great value for both mentor and mentee in a mentoring relationship.


In my favorite scene, Lightning talks to Smokey about how bitter his mentor, Doc Hudson, seemed to be after his racing days were over.  Lightning’s impression of Doc was that because Doc was no longer able to race he was never really happy again.  Then Smokey takes Lightning to his garage.  On the way, he too admits that Doc was bitter after being forced to give up racing.  He shares that the two of them hadn’t been in touch for many years.  But then, something changed in Doc’s life.  Smokey started getting letters from Doc and the two reconnected.  As Smokey opens the door to his garage, Lightning sees the letters that Doc shared with Smokey posted on the wall.  Every one of them was a newspaper clipping or a photo of Lightning.  Then Smokey says to Lightning,

“Racing wasn’t the best part of Doc’s life, you were.”

Feel the power in that statement.  A mentee struggling to compete, doing everything he can to stay in the game, hoping beyond hope that he can still somehow make his mentor proud, and then he hears those words.  He was the best part of his mentor’s life.

There is great value in the mentoring relationship for both mentor and mentee.  Mentoring may not be reciprocal in the sense that we receive exactly what we give out. But, mentors do receive!  This is a perfect example of that.

When we’re young it seems that life is all about winning and losing.  It’s about our “stats” and what we accomplish. But what we get from our mentors, from those who believe in us and who we are as people, is the understanding that life is not about our performance or our abilities, our successes or our failures. It’s about our connection to others.  It’s about the value we have and can give to others, about how we can invest in them, believe in them, and remind them of their own value and worth.  Doc’s ability to give of himself to Lightning changed his bitter feelings about his own career and focused his life and his heart on what was important, his relationship with Lightning.

This is what we pass along to those we mentor:   That our true value is in who we are and our goal is to use that value to help others find theirs.

clippings doc hudsonOne of the things I love about this scene, is it’s contrast to the moment when Lightning enters his sponsor’s training facility.  Both moments are awe inspiring for Lightning.  Both of them show Lightning his value and importance.  But only one is truly genuine, deep, and based on a personal investment rather than a monetary one.  Doc was so proud of being connected to Lightning that he couldn’t help but share it with the one who had poured so much into him.  And Smokey was so proud of being connected to Doc, he couldn’t help but honor the relationship he got to see between Doc and Lightning by posting those clippings and articles in a place he would see them every day.  The glitzy, jaw-droppingly beautiful museum in the foyer of the training facility was no comparison to sacrificial, uncompromising, unconditional love that was displayed in newspaper clippings and faded photographs in that old garage. 

The best part of my life is not about what I have accomplished or not accomplished.  The best part of my life are the people God has connected me to.  He has connected me to others through my successes and through my failures.  Those are the means through which He has made some of the most important connections in my life possible.  And as I get older, I see more and more of the value I possess – not for myself, but to invest in the lives of others.  I want others to know their value so they too may pass it on to others. 

I am eternally grateful for the mentors in my life, the five people in the pictures above and the countless others who have poured into me.  Thank you.  You believed in me.  You saw and still see in me what I cannot see in myself.  You have given of yourselves and invested in me time, love, and attention so that I will be a better me.  Your gifts to me are priceless and I in turn am investing what I have into others so that your legacy lives on.  Thank you.  May God bless you as He has blessed me through you.

Lord, thank you for wiring all of us for connection.  Thank you for showing us the value of mentoring through the life and ministry of Your Son and through the gift of Your Spirit that lives in us and connects us as followers of You.  Father, you specifically chose people to serve as mentors to me.  Thank you for knowing who would be the perfect fit.  Bless them as you have blessed me through them.  And thank you for the opportunities you give me to mentor others.  May I be as faithful as those who have poured into me and may You be glorified through every relationship.  In Jesus’ most precious name, amen.

The True Value of Our Possessions

mc1Every few minutes another small crowd gathered around them… motorcycles, two beautiful motorcycles.  The owners were two men in their mid-70’s, and they loved their bikes.  Each time a new crowd gathered around their pride and joy they got up from the outdoor table they were dining at and made their way out to greet their fellow motorcycle enthusiasts.  They had all the facts, stats and figures, answered every question.  They talked gas mileage, paint jobs, and manifolds.  They talked about other bikes and the route they were taking on this Fall afternoon. They were in their element and they shared a common love with everyone who stopped to look.  No one who stopped to stare was turned away.  All were welcomed and allowed to share in the possessions that belonged to a very select few.  But they didn’t stop there.  I heard one of them share with his new found friends a place along a common motorcycle thoroughfare where they offered free “surf and turf” for the price of a cup of coffee.  “You oughta check it out!”  It dawned on me as I listened to these men, this is what Jesus wanted us to learn from His story of the “Shrewd Manager.”

It’s a story in scripture I’ve always been a bit puzzled by.  It’s found in Luke, Chapter 16.  The story goes that there is a rich man who finds out the manager of his estate has been squandering his possessions.  He confronts him and asks him to give an account of what he’s been doing before he gets fired.  The manager goes to those who are indebted to his master.  He asks him what they owe.  (Clearly, he hadn’t been doing his job… he asked the debtors what they owed?!)  Knowing he was going to lose his job and trying to secure a future for himself, he cheats his master even further.  As each debtor comes to him he reduces their debt hoping that when he’s looking for a job they’ll remember his generosity.  Jesus ends the story by saying, “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd.” (verse 8a)

What?  He had to admire the “dishonest rascal” for being shrewd?  Hmmmmm, what exactly are we supposed to learn from this, God?  To be dishonest?  To admire this manager for his shrewdness?  Thankfully, Jesus tells us the answer.  He says, “Here’s the lesson:  Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends.  Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” (verse 9)

Jesus wasn’t advocating dishonesty or shrewdness.  He does warn us that those who are not believers are more shrewd than “people of the light,” but I don’t think that He’s telling us to be more like them.  I believe what He was advocating was relationship!  In my mind, the ONLY redeeming quality of this manager is his use of resources to develop relationships.  Even then, those relationships he’s developing are for HIS benefit (not theirs) which Jesus makes clear to correct in his lesson to us.  Don’t make these relationships for yourself, but for them!  So that when all earthly possessions are gone they, like you, will possess an eternal home.

The other piece of this lesson is what the shrewd manager offered these debtors.  He offered them a discount to their debt.  What I believe Jesus is encouraging us to do is to use our resources, our earthly wealth, to develop relationships with others so that we can give them news about their debt just as this manager did.  But, instead of offering them a discount on their debt, we can tell them about God’s economy!  God says, “If you have a relationship with Me your debt has been paid in full!!!  My Son paid it all for you!”

Do you see the connection?  The guys with the motorcycles clearly loved to ride.  It is a part of who they are.  But they used their possessions as a conduit to relationship!  It wasn’t about them.  And it wasn’t just about their bikes.  It was about sharing the love for bikes they had with others.  And that relationship led to them sharing about a great deal on surf and turf!  Their possessions lead them to share what had greater value… what anyone could share whether they had a motorcycle or not.  “You think this is great, let me tell you about this deal!  It’s yours if you want it.”  This is the lesson of the shrew manager!  This is what we are to emulate.

Don’t miss what Jesus says next. “If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  But if you are dishonest in the little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?  And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”  (verses 10-12)  In each of those verses the lesser is compared to the greater.  I always thought that meant the “lesser” was something that didn’t cost as much.  I don’t believe that’s what Jesus is saying here.  He’s saying if you don’t handle what has little value – earthly possessions – how can you be trusted with what has real value – the riches of heaven.  It’s not just properly handling things of little value so that we can have things of greater value.  It’s understanding WHAT has value… the SPIRITUAL is what has REAL value.  If we are granted riches in this world, like fancy motorcycles, make sure you understand how to use that possession.  Use it to develop relationships so that you can share with others the only possession you have that is of real value… your relationship with Jesus Christ!

Jesus ends this parable with a clear warning.  You can’t love both God and money.  We have to make this very clear distinction between the physical and the spiritual, between wealth and true riches.  It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to have nice things or even to be wealthy.  But He sure wants us to understand how to put those possessions in proper perspective.  What possessions hold the most value to you?  Are they physical or spiritual?  How do we use the possessions He’s given us to make relationships in order to share Him with others?  That should be our goal.

Lord, help us to clearly see that You and You alone are our most valuable possession.  Help us to keep everything else in its proper perspective.  And, may we use the earthly possessions you give us to share with others, that we might have relationship with them, that ultimately they may possess for themselves the true riches of heaven!  Thank you, Father, for all the gifts you’ve given us, especially the free gift of your Son, Jesus.