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Mentor Encourages Protégé so He Can Disciple Others

When I was in elementary school, my dad's commute was two hours each way. In those formative years, every Monday through Friday I never ate a meal with my dad. That left a gaping hole in my soul, and I sometimes wondered, How can I be a father to others when I hardly know what it means to be fathered myself?

My answer was born out of crisis. As I neared the age of 40, I struggled with a loss of meaning. That was humbling: I'd always told myself that because of my faith in Christ, I would never experience a midlife crisis. My wife finally said, "I can't help you. Why don't you see Doug?"

That began an 11-year journey in which Doug, an older Christian friend and mentor, and I have met almost every month. Doug listens, asks questions, cares, and prays. Twice in those 11 years he has firmly warned against a decision I was about to make—and looking back on those "almost-decisions," he was right. But mostly, he has just shown up, and somewhat silently and mysteriously, his steady, caring presence in my life strengthens me to father others.

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