I invited some of those I mentor to write about what they have taken away from my mentoring.
From a Finnish mentee:
“I met Marty for the first time on the 18th of November in 2015. God had reserved for me a great surprise for that last day of my stay in the US. The day before this I heard God speaking to my heart very clearly about my calling. I was grateful.
I’m sure you know this experience I’ve had many times in my life. You meet someone for the very first time yet you still feel like you have known them for years. These encounters make you feel delighted, empowered and thankful. They leave you with a desire and will to meet again soon to continue building this new friendship.
As we met Marty introduced me to the human spirit. He asked me what my spirit was saying. That was a new question for me. I remember Marty heard and saw my spirit right away. The secret of being seen by someone is a very special gift and resources us in our life. It is great knowing we are seen by our Heavenly Father. Yet if another sees who we really are, it really frees us. I get so much encouragement every time I meet with these people. They know me and still see the good in me and want the best for me.
Marty heard my spirit and that started a process in me that’s still developing. The concept of spirit was quite new to me. Spirit with a capital “S” I knew but the human spirit was something not so common. I had heard of the body-soul-spirit concept yet hadn’t completely understood the role of the spirit. With Marty’s help I started recognizing that quiet voice inside of me was my spirit. It was totally eye-opening.
I recall being in contact with my spirit at least as a little boy. I was excited about everything, endlessly curious and willing to follow my dreams. But something had happened over the years and the connection with my spirit became blurry. Marty heard something I knew was me. I couldn’t name it at first yet I knew in my spirit it was right. So it started. We had Skype-calls regularly and he kept on asking me to listen to my spirit. It would have been easier to rush with the answer but from the beginning I took time to take a deep breath and waited to hear..
Romans 8:16 NIV “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Our spirit, that is our innermost being, is willing to do what the Spirit of God wants.. When I stop and listen to my spirit I calibrate my perspective – back to how it needs to be. The shorter the time between these calibrations the better. My spirit’s voice became more familiar to me over time and it has become stronger. I became more aware of the parts working at distracting me.”
From a Canadian mentee:
“Marty and I were working together on outreach around a major sporting event. During our time we developed a mentor/mentee relationship. It was honest, familiar and I was very grateful for it. That being said, when we would chat together he would ask me what seemed weird questions such as, “What does your spirit want to say about that?” or “What does your spirit want to say to God?”, “What does God want to say to your spirit?” I was not accustomed to such questions. He continued to ask them, and as I journeyed with the concept of listening to my spirit, I began to see what he was getting at. Eventually I came to know my spirit, recognize it, and listen to it.
Learning to recognize and trust my spirit was not something that took place overnight. It was a new concept. Was it even biblical? I mean where in the Bible does it talk about paying attention to your own spirit? I thought we were supposed to pay attention to the Holy Spirit? Well we are, but I eventually realized that the Bible talks about our own spirits as well.
He gave me some John Eldredge books- Waking the Dead and Wild at Heart. They opened my world to an understanding that my heart is good, that as a child of God I have unique passions the Lord has placed within me. This was all similar language to that which Marty would use regarding my spirit. It became an open door to hearing my spirit.. As I became more comfortable with these concepts Marty’s questions began to make more sense. My spirit had something to say about life choices I was making. It had something to say about what direction I should take and how I should handle certain situations.
My spirit will stand up for who God has made me to be when often my mind will question it. This is so utterly important because it means my mind can be the very thing stopping me from doing what God has called me to do. My spirit is not hindered by the doubts of my mind. My spirit simply knows and believes who God has made me to be – period. If I listen to it, it will direct me as I pay attention to both God’s voice and my own spirit within me.
I discovered this – my spirit will speak up about the things I really long for in the depths of my heart. It desires to wildly chase after God and chase after the things God has placed within me. As I grew I saw my spirit was courageous, uncompromising, and single-minded. Yet listening to it can feel challenging. It’s untamed but that can be uncomfortable when your head is telling you that another option would be more “sensible.” I saw how my spirit testifies with the Holy Spirit what is right and true and what God says about things. The challenge is paying attention to it and acknowledging that although our minds may say something sensible, our spirits are sometimes speaking up about something else – something which may be unsafe but is true to who we are called to be.
Life can be murky sometimes. Making decisions big or small can be difficult, especially with the external pressures that cause us to desire the safe option – the one that is sensible but may not be true to who we are. However, when I listen to my spirit I find those external pressures don’t hinder me. My spirit is unafraid, fearless, adventurous and free.
I found I was more free than what I dared to believe. Those righteous desires in the core of me are what God has laid on my heart to accomplish. My spirit is not afraid of challenges around me, of the fears the enemy tries to impose on me. My spirit is a devil-killer helping me to conqueror. This has radically changed my world.”
“I met a delightfully peculiar man who would help revitalise my heart and establish a relationship quite unlike any I’d known. A Gandalf meets Bilbo type of story – an older man who comes alongside a younger man to help set him up on his journey.
During my mentorship, I experienced the benefit of what felt like reclaiming my story. Somewhere along the way my voice, dignity, and self-esteem were stolen. I had absorbed the hurt and carried the guilt on my own for many years. A season in life pushed me to the breaking point from which I could no longer carry my life experiences alone. I was left with significant depression.
Despite the many close friendships and family that offered their support, there is something uniquely powerful and vulnerable about confidentially confiding in a mentor. There was something beautifully different about an older man at 2am in Japan still awake, reaching out to me from the other side of the world.
This radical love, detached from a pay check, made my confiding in Marty easy and instantly meaningful. I felt as though Marty was initially more dedicated than I was – but not in an intimidating way. As I began unpacking a life’s worth of memories, both beautiful and traumatic, I came to understand the significance of sharing it confidentially.
These were often hard conversations, not coffee shop friendly. Together we rewrote the story. Memories, guilt, all needed some healing light. Other times we just needed to sit and shed a few tears. He helped empower me by voicing encouragement and truth.
Taking these memories through rehabilitation, I found myself once again with a heart capable of exploring its capacities to love. For the first time my story was clear.”
“You were the first person I shared my deepest wounds with. These had brought me so much guilt and shame. To tell you everything was significant beyond words. You kept affirming me no matter how many times I screwed up. The battle is still going on, but I am so thankful for how you have listened to me.”
“I learnt the power of being listened to. I had never shared my inner world before. You listened as I poured out my pain and anger. Without your commitment to listening I don’t know how I could have broken through.”
“You are always for me. You saw me. That fact alone changed my life completely. You are the freest person I know and your freedom with yourself means you can look out for others. You’ve inspired me. I watch you setting others free in a similar way to how I have been set free.”
“You believed in me. You spend time in your heart thinking of me – you have played a special role in my life. You have modelled what a man of God is like. That’s impacted my life. I’m not sure I’d be in this moment of getting engaged – ready to be the best man I can be for my wife to be, without your support.”
“You have helped me put God in the centre of my life. I asked you to mentor me cause I saw how much my friend grew as he was being mentored by you. I wanted what he had so I asked you to help me. I have never experienced God in my life like I do now. I know what it now means to live as a man of God.If you hadn’t come alongside me and helped me grow I would not be ready to get married.”
“You have modelled the life of the Kingdom. You have been a loving, constant and passionate reminder of the importance of seeking the kingdom of God first. In all things, always.”
“Your mentoring has been an expression of true love. I know your love for me comes from the Father. You don’t impose anything on me. I have found your mentoring is full of love, connecting God and me, introducing God as a Father and a friend.”
“I saw in you a dad figure. When I could call you dad I could call God Dad. I couldn’t do it till I felt comfortable in a relationship with you. I am grateful that you took me on. You modelled what it means to be a father, a man of God. The way I will raise my kids will be similar to what you taught me.”
“I felt a true feeling of fatherhood from you. I felt I was your spiritual son, like you knew me. You were ready to pour your life into me like a father. You helped initiate me and you welcomed me into manhood. You made the experience of initiation serious yet light. That moment, that experience changed my life. I felt I could conquer any battle. I knew I had a father-figure to lead me.”
“What the Father is saying to me is important for you. My problem is I get into my head – you help me get out of it by helping hear what the Father is saying – that is what is important to you. You do it with laughter and freedom.”
“You help me practise the presence of God. I have been trying to live God’s presence within me. I know He made my spirit new, made it His dwelling place. If I truly believe this, then the spirit is where I can meet and hear Him. Marty’s questions helped me to take this part of me seriously. I watched my ‘inner man’ being renewed. I heard God speak.”
“I learn more about God through being mentored. Through your mentoring I have been able to see how much God delights in me and what He’s asking of me. I have learned, with amazement, how much my spirit loves and longs for Jesus. It enjoys talking with God. My life has been captivated by this. Marty, our fifth child has just been born. We named him Yushi, it means ‘Mighty.’ We believe he will be a true man. I will teach him what you showed me and I will tell him what you have done for me.”
“You listen to the voice of our Father and lead from that place. You help me to listen to God. I get a chance to go deeper into God. I pray to Him, then talk back to myself what I feel He is saying. Often when I feel God tells me something, I can move on a bit too quickly or end my prayer. You push me to continue the conversation further, to respond to God, to hear more of His Heart so I keep trying. It’s simple and it’s pure. You help me to hear the voice of the Father and you get my spirit to respond. It works for me.”
“You help me better understand how my flesh and spirit works. It is the saddest thing when I give in to my flesh. I know I am not being a son of God. There are always two versions of my self. One ignores the truth, the other is truly trying to live for what is right – to act, think, and feel and bring light to the earth. When I’m with you I clearly see a version of my true self. It’s why it’s helpful for me to meet.”
“You help me to be myself. When we meet I gain a growing sense of confidence in who I am. I feel a ‘settledness’ – somehow I know it’s going to be okay. The core of who I am is emerging. I want to discover who God has made me to be so I can be available to others. As I do I’m becoming a loving ‘non-anxious’ presence within me and in the lives of others.”
“There’s space to explore my world. When I first was vulnerable and told you of my brokenness I was freer to discover the things that held me back from freedom. Our relationship is built on trust (it’s why I could be vulnerable.) Our conversations are led by God’s Spirit and our spirits. In this space, I can see myself more clearly in terms of body, soul and spirit. The Father has shown me my spirit. I’ve experienced truth, freedom, healing, growth and a group of new friends. Our mentoring times are like a factory that makes spiritual warriors!”
“Being mentored has opened my eyes. Our mentoring is different to anything I’ve done before. It’s not me sharing and then being prayed for. It’s inviting the Holy Spirit and my spirit to speak to me. It’s like God the Father is speaking over my life. It’s so simple and so powerful. It breathes air into my spirit and frees it, pushing away the flesh. I am truly grateful for what’s happening in me. It’s totally changed me. Some days I feel totally flesh-free. You are a spiritual father over my life.”
“You helped me find freedom. I came to mentoring with a challenge in my life. I’d messed up. I felt overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Instead of judging, blaming, accusing, you were sad with me, encouraging and reassuring. I felt your love. I recall the feeling after I confessed. God’s forgiveness was beyond what I could ever have imagined. I recall laughing, joy flooded over me. I’d never experienced something so total.”
“It’s a fellowship that I’ve never known before. This is all new for me. When we meet I know it’s ‘God and us together’ fellowship. What helped build this was the way you treated me. Your love for me motivated me to be more like Jesus. I notice now that after each time we meet I feel I grow one step closer to Jesus.”
“You do the heavy lifting of committing yourself to me. You are there for me 100%. That has helped me trust you. It meant I could learn to see God’s view on things – you take His side as we talk. I’m learning to see the world as God does.”
“You showed up, you were committed. It seems to me many people don’t have anyone there for them. You were there for me. For 7 years I have reached out to you and you’ve always found the time. I, in fact, always got a response. I learnt from this as I now mentor. The key for me was that you turned up and made yourself available.”
“You were serious about our mentoring. You kept calling me out to who I truly was. I even took up the challenge of cold showers. You took me on with my relationship with my fiancé and loose boundaries. Despite the challenges I still felt so loved. It made me ‘husband ready.’ I won’t forget that. You challenge me to be a man of God.”
“You have shown mercy towards me. I can now show it to others. I never felt you were judging me. You showed me grace, that helped me to see the Father. It means that now I can show my mentee mercy, understanding and grace.”
“I have seen how mentoring multiplies. Through your mentoring of me I have learned in a natural way how to be a mentor to others, helping them to grow in their faith and God-given potential.”
“You’ve kept me from being an island. I know we are not meant to be alone. You have taken me away on retreats and helped me delve into my soul, hear my spirit and the Holy Spirit.”
“In our mentoring times you listen deeply. You ask questions and keep notes that you write up for me. Sometimes it’s really hard to hear what God is saying with so many other noises in my mind. You have spent hours with me exploring what’s happening within me, guiding me to a place where I can hear what God is saying to me.”
“I am thankful for how you listen to me. I had a deep need to be listened to without any preconditions. It felt good experiencing this. Your willingness to listen helped me to better understand myself. I became more aware of the impact of my past, that all behaviour comes from somewhere. My wife tells me, many times, that when I talk with you I become a nicer, better man!”
“Mentoring is an open invitation to a journey together, mentor and mentee. I’ve learnt that there’s no defined steps or unbreakable rules. You’ve helped me as a friend to win over the flesh, conquer with a free spirit, and live a purpose-driven life glorifying God as the man I was designed to be. You’ve been my cheerleader. You have helped me be separate. You know it’s my life. You’ve strengthened my ‘inner man’ and gently pushed me to take ownership of my life.”
“I was totally a boy when I met you. You helped me discover my masculine soul. You were you, always open. You were able to celebrate me, see my capabilities and give me the chance to show myself as you watched from a close distance. I now have a father to talk to, to show me how to live as a man of God. I am the man I am today because of how you got alongside me and helped me.”
“You give me space. As I fumble my way through life, mentoring has been a gift. All my life, I’ve been looking over my shoulder at people wondering if they approve of my decisions or not. It’s been a recipe for not knowing who I am or what I truly want. You refuse to let me slip into that familiar mode of looking for someone to tell me what to do and co-sponsor my decisions. Part of me wants to outsource my autonomy and escape freedom. Your question, ‘What’s your spirit saying?’ reminds me of my autonomy.”
“Mentoring is intentional. I watch the way you reciprocate at every level to me. You check up on me and are interested in me. It makes me feel we are in this together, hungry to be better friends, husbands and leaders. There’s nothing I’ve held back from you. I know you pray for me and I watch how you follow me up. It all means I can be authentic with you.”
“You are a role model. In my culture (France) mentoring is very infrequent. In fact the word is sometimes associated with sects so Christians are not always open to accepting it. My parents were not talkative, especially around intimate subjects. You helped me face issues within me. I watched you working the process. You would faithfully follow me up. What surprised me has been the way it’s helped me get closer to God. You role model to me a Christian and a father. Being with you helps me to stay focused on what God has put in me as a man, with a soul, spirit and a body.”
“Two questions have helped me each time . . . What does your spirit say? What does God say to your spirit? I love those questions. They helped me tune in to what God was doing and saying. And, as a sensitive man who can be stuck in his head, they helped me access my more intuitive, sensing antennas. Often we are quiet as I dig deeper. I’m calming my rushing thoughts and moving beyond them. It’s helped me enter the deeper parts of my being, sensing where God dwells.”
“You’ve helped me see how to have a conversation with myself and with God. Sometimes people tend to think of God as someone harsh. I see you as a child of God and one of God’s best friends. Through it all you have become my best friend.”
“You don’t give answers to the questions I bring. I come to the mentoring time with the unresolved questions most of the time. I know you could answer based on what you have experienced in your life with God. . . but you don’t. Rather than answering you guide me to hear what God is saying. You ask my spirit questions trusting I can hear it. As I do that I find that God answers many of my questions.”
“You believe in me. I was trying to understand some deep wounds from my years of playing tennis. I decided to face my past and enter a tournament. You told me even if I lose 0-6 you would still celebrate me. I needed to hear that – it encouraged me deeply.”
“You have been a role model for me. I have both consciously and subconsciously become like you. It’s been your attitude, kindness and love that’s been next to me even when you are not around. I see how you care about purity like Jesus would. When I am in difficult situations and aren’t sure how to act, I ask myself how you would respond.”
“I need other men who can lead me to help me grow. I’m working with a man who’s helping me grow. Our time together gives me a hand to get through what I find hard to do myself. I can’t do it alone.”
“Mentoring is a joint process. You once told me, ‘Let’s see how we might do this together. It may be that we’re on different paths and if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. We can have a chance to figure it out.’ It meant the process became a shared journey. You laughed with me and cried as well. That empathy meant a lot. You listened to me, motivated me, prayed for me, gave me confidence, celebrated successes and infected me with your joy of life.”