Teachers and mentees (part 1): Being redefined as a mentor

"In the days when the judges ruled,there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.  They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.  With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.  May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?  Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—  would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

(Passage taken from the book of Ruth chapter 1)


Naomi was old enough to think about a new start in life. She resembles so much to the various people who have entered an old age in life with little to show for. Notice in the text above, the bitterness she expresses about how life has treated her through the losses of her family members.

Notice as well that at the end of the above passage, Ruth decides to stay with Naomi. Her decision became a pivotal moment in the history of the Bible. If you keep reading the story till chapter 3, you will notice that Naomi changes from being a bitter and complaining woman to becoming a mentor-teacher to Ruth. Naomi ends up teaching Ruth on how to get a husband. Eventually, as the story continues, Ruth ends up getting married to a rich and noble man but this would not have happened without Naomi's guidance.

What is the lesson here?

As much as many young people are fired up by new seasons where they make resolutions and take decisions, there are also many older people who do not want to do anything because of their age. Often, older people have lost all desire to make new decisions because of any or all the following:

1.Time does not seem to be on their side anymore
2.They have made too many questionable decisions that caught up with them.
3.Circumstances of life were not too favorable to them

Unfortunately, for many older people , life did not turn out to be what they expected when they were younger. However, even if it seems as if life opportunities have gone through the window, there is still one thing you can definitely do: ‘ you can mentor other people.’

Naomi was clearly finished with her life, but as we read the story, we realize that she becomes a teacher to Ruth. Whether you have been a great achiever, an underachiever, or whether life has not turned out the way you expected, you still have reservoirs of wisdom through your life experience. By choosing to mentor and educate inexperienced people, your purpose can be redefined to bring light in the lives of others through your advice and experience.

It is very possible to be a credible adviser if you have achieved a lot. But it is also possible to advise people if you are an underachiever. Naomi had little to show for her life and she did not feel any shame in guiding Ruth. Peter failed to acknowledge Christ three times during the last hours preceding Jesus' death (Luke 22:54-62) and yet he became the first Pope of the Church. The denial of Jesus by Peter was a clear failure and the mark of a real underachievement, but it did not stop Peter from authoring books from the Bible and from leading the Church.

If your life is marked by a series of underachievement due to your own mistakes, then forgive yourself. And when you come back to yourself, strengthen the people around you.