September 09, 2020

Shadow Mentors by Steph Beth Nickel

Think of the top 10 people, excluding biblical characters, who have dramatically influenced your life for the better.

How many of them do you know personally?

When I read this month’s topic, “Shadow Mentors,” the first person who came to mind was Max Lucado. It may have been my mom who introduced me to his books when I was in my teens, 40 or so years ago.

I remember reading No Wonder They Call Him the Savior and concluding, “He’s a poet who writes in prose.”

I rarely reread books. (There are just so many I want to read!) I have, however, read and reread On the Anvil. It’s probably time to do so again, come to think of it.

Although I’ve given away hundreds of books over the years, I still have several of Max Lucado’s books on both my physical and virtual shelves.

Will we ever meet this side of heaven? Doubtful. But he is definitely one of my shadow mentors.

What have I learned from this Max Lucado? Among other things …

·         It’s important to pursue God’s call on your life.

·         All author’s have a unique voice.

·         God gifts us in different ways but calls all believers to make Jesus known.

·         Just because we reach a certain age doesn’t mean we should set aside our calling. (It also doesn’t mean we can’t pursue it with fresh clarity and commitment.)

·         We can write for both adults and children.

·         Not all books that have a powerful impact will show up in Bible college classrooms.

·         And on a related note, just because a book focusses on joy and positivity doesn’t mean it isn’t rich in spiritual truth.

·         Lastly, our best writing points readers to the Word.

I’m sure I’ve learned other “big picture lessons” from this author as well, but these are a few of them that encourage my heart.

I’m called to come alongside those the Lord brings into my life. As Christians, we all are in one way or another.

As writers, we have the unique opportunity of putting ourselves in a position to become shadow mentors for others, those we may never meet in person, those we may never interact with in any way.

How can we position ourselves to become shadow mentors for some of our readers?  

Develop our unique writer’s voice. We may say something in a way that resonates in a way no writer ever has. (In my experience, what often stands out to me is something in the middle of a paragraph, something that hasn’t been highlighted as what Lysa Terkeurst calls “a sticky statement.”)

Don’t forget authors are not the only writers who have a big impact on people’s lives. Sometimes, it’s a blog post or a Facebook comment.

Never stop developing writing skills.

Read. Read. And read some more. It develops our knowledge base and hones our skills even when we’re not reading for these specific purposes.

Never stop growing spiritually.

We ought to pray for our readers. God just may use our words to impact them in a way we never imagined.


  1. I think Max Lucado has had an impact on a lot of people.

  2. Thanks for your words of wisdom gleaned from your own shadow mentor. And thanks for pointing your arrow in the other direction--challenging us in ways we can be mentors to others.

  3. I hope I've been a shadow mentor for somebody. I did encourage a brother on a Greyhound bus from North Battleford to Edmonton a few decades ago but I can't think of anybody else whom I helped.

  4. I hadn't thought of praying for our readers! But so agree!

  5. Thanks for encouraging all of us in so many ways!


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