However, sometimes these situations can’t be avoided especially in the workplace. In those situations, Arnold encourages that accountability and reasonable boundaries be put in place.
MAJ Delva added that busyness and time restrictions shouldn’t be a reason to not be a mentor or have a mentor. “Despite our busy schedules, and all that we have going on, you can always take time to invest in one,” Delva says. “And if we focus on that, then we won’t feel so overwhelmed about mentorship.”
As Crabtree points out, “I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years: I probably have more examples of people who have failed than people who have succeeded, and more program examples of those that have failed to succeed. It’s not about personality. It is about ‘Am I being vulnerable?’ ‘Am I being safe?’ ‘Will I share about a real person, and a real Jesus?’ That’s the key, and where it [mentoring] fails is where people don’t do that.”
“To be able to be vulnerable and to share that may not come easily at first,” Crabtree adds.
Still, he insists: “You can be a mentor. If you just received Christ yesterday, you can be a mentor to somebody today. ‘What do you mean by that, Carl?’ Well, there’s somebody out there who doesn’t know Christ, and you can share, ‘Hey, look what Christ did for me.’”
It was that real testimony of a real person and a real Jesus that existed in Chet Arnold and Rocky Ward’s mentoring relationship. Arnold said he could resonate with Ward’s grief, since he had lost a child when she was just seven years old. He could also resonate with Ward’s marital struggles because he and his wife, Michelle, had nearly gone through a divorce themselves.
“God will use us, it seems, in ways that are connected to the experiences He has allowed in our lives,” Arnold says. “I would say, yes, that our [Chet and Michelle’s] experience, played a large part of my being able to understand, at least to some degree, what Rocky was going through.”
“Those two specific examples, I remember really sticking out to me and finding incredibly encouraging,” Ward says. “And also [Chet] sharing his testimony of God’s faithfulness through those, and getting them through those difficulties, I found just really, really encouraging through struggles I was going through at the time.”
Although Ward’s goal was to restore his marriage when he first started meeting with Arnold, the divorce ended up becoming finalized. About a year into flight school, Ward found himself single once again. Nonetheless, he continued to meet with Arnold and continued to grow in his faith.
This wasn’t necessarily a clear-cut process. Arnold explains that it could be difficult to be the one “to sit across from somebody who you can see is struggling and to be the one who tells them they have to choose to stay centered on Christ and they have to choose what they’re going to do with their thoughts, and the words and their actions to bring every thought captive to Christ…. Rocky has to choose. I can’t make that happen.”
After about two more years of weekly meetings, Ward met a girl—the college roommate of his brother’s wife (“long, long story there,” he says)—and they started dating. Arnold and Ward picked up the book The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller and started working through that in an effort to prepare for Ward’s upcoming marriage.
Arnold and his wife, Michelle, ended up serving as the premarital counselors for Ward and his fiancé after they got engaged. The couple are happily married now.
“I don’t think I would have grown and healed nearly as much as I did had God not used Chet and a few other people to help develop and grow me in His Truth,” Ward says. “I suppose God could have used anyone to do that growth and development, and speaking His Truth into my life, but He definitely chose and used Chet to do it. Apart from Christ at work in our mentorship relationship I would not have grown as I have.”