General Mentoring Helps

What Motivates You to Continue to Mentor?

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the book Mentoring Warriors, by David Riffel.  Autographed copies of the book are available at

Mentoring isn’t for the fainthearted. It takes tenacity, patience, and resiliency that tests the character of a man. Mentoring is also extremely rewarding! Recently, while on a radio interview with Pat Williams, co-founder of the Orlando Magic, Pat asked me “Does a mentor ever get paid?”  My response was “Money? I wish!  The reality is I get paid when I see God transform a young man in his character and actions. When a young man I’ve poured myself into turns around and pays it forward by mentoring other young men. That is the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle at work!”

Wichita State University completed qualitative research for my book, Mentoring Warriors. They interviewed three men who mentor warrior-aged young men.  Here are their answers to the question “What motivates you to continue mentoring?”

Listen to Bob, a retired CFO of a local supply company, Ben, a neurosurgeon assistant, and Ken, a part-time bank teller and physician assistant student.

Meet Bob Coats

BOB: Three years ago I had the opportunity to invite my mentor from high school to start meeting with us. He’s in his 80s now, so we now meet at his house because he can’t really get out. I don’t like him driving at night, and I don’t like him walking up to our steps in the dark and stuff. It’s been a real treat. He has no leadership responsibilities or anything but they all know that he was my mentor, and he will throw out these nuggets of wisdom every once in a while. And yet, at the same time, they can see the differences between him and me.

The whole giving and receiving idea is closely associated with motivation to keep mentoring. When we start out, we’re just primarily receivers, and we learn how to become givers increasingly. The capacity to give matures over time. And then when we start getting older, like it or not, we have to become receivers, again. We’re not as much givers, and I modeled it. I think it was Marvin Martin, a local attorney who taught me years ago about those receiving years: learning how to be more of a receiver as you get older. That didn’t come very well in life.

 My mentor has been able to do that, graciously. And the younger men we mentor have seen that model in front of them. When you think about it, here are guys in their teens, being mentored by a 60-year-old guy and an 80-year-old guy. And so they’re seeing different stages of life that are way out there for them.

Meet Ben Cohen

BEN:   It’s worth the struggle. You’re not going to be good at it initially. No one is. It takes time to become good at this. I know for me, mentorship has changed recently. Because when I was single, I was mentoring young single men. And then, as my personal life changed, and I married, my wife and I ended up spending a lot more time with young married couples, some of those are the young men that I knew from before who have gotten married.

Mentorship is a wonderful, refining fire, just like marriage is. Because it’s a process of learning to focus on someone else, and it’s a process of learning to give up of yourself to someone else. It’s not complicated. but it’s also not easy. The ways in which it’s not easy are based in the fact that you have to make a personal choice to sacrifice and that choice is continual. Whereas if you didn’t do that, well then you know what, you can go out and you can drink beers with your buddies every night and or your wife and her friends, and you can do things that are normal in life and our society. Or you can live a life that … I’ve chosen to live a life where my wife and I do go out with our friends, but we also both spend a lot of time with young people. Because that’s our priority. So, if someone were to say that they were desiring to start mentoring people, I would say, “Great. What are you doing to be involved in the lives of young people? Because that’s where it’s going to start.” You can’t just go pick up someone on the street and be like, “Hey, I’m going to mentor you.” It just doesn’t work like that.

Meet Ken Martinez

KEN:   I feel like there’s a lot of things. One is, seeing the impact it had in me and how this one guy literally invested his whole life and just poured out his whole life onto me. Just seeing the value in that, that motivates me in wanting to do that for others. I think scriptures alone, there’s like three verses that come to mind right now. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. That’s Jesus telling us to teach others the Gospel and basically reach people.

Revelations 7:9, it paints a picture of people from all tribes and nations, all languages, just coming together and worshiping God. That’s the goal that we want. We want to be from all nations, and all tribes and all languages just coming together to worship God. When we have the great commission of going and reaching people and we have this end goal of what it’s going to look like, actually. Revelations 7:9.

2 Timothy 2:2, just finding people who are, qualified.  People who are eager for Jesus, who are wanting to do this for others, and the idea of passing what you know. Hey, I’m going to share these things with you so that you can share this with others, so they can share that with others. Then it just continues, and continues, and continues. That’s how you’re going to get to this Revelations 7:9 picture of people from all tribes and nations. Just seeing the Great Commission, how you can do this. There’s an end goal. People from all tribes and nations are going to come and worship God.

That’s why I like it because we know what the end goal’s going to look like and we have a part in this by just obeying the Great Commission. That’s what motivates me. You, honestly, just build great friendships. Again, I’m not just selling you my problems, but I’m trusting you with these things, Ken; and vice versa. I’m trusting them with the things I’m struggling with. Through that, we just create a relationship of trust and it’s great because I can share exactly anything that I’m struggling with and vice versa. I gain friends and brothers, and it’s great.

My Take. When you see God take a confused, struggling young man and transform him into a maturing young adult. When you see a life turn from narcissism to selflessness, to God and to coming alongside others, it not only helps you see the truth of the Gospel but reminds you it is the Lord who takes your own faithfulness and produces far more results than you or I could ever on our own.  

Meet Luke Lallement

This past summer, Luke, one of the young men I’ve mentored over the past three years served as a counselor at a church youth camp.  During that week, the Lord spoke to him about the need to pay it forward. He made a public commitment to start mentoring younger guys. Since then, two high school-aged guys approached him asking Luke to mentor them. Luke will tell you straight up that it has given him an entirely new perspective on the mentoring relationship. He sees what I’ve done to pour into his life and now sees the joy of paying it forward. 2 Timothy 2:2 “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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