WHO IS YOUR MENTOR?
I remember driving to work one fateful night. The weather was so bad that visibility was almost zero. The full light of the motor vehicles met their match that night. Darkness covered the land as the snow-packed ground every made the road very slippery. It was difficult to see the road markings. The journey of supposed minutes eventually took more than an hour. At one point, I missed the road, driving in another direction before realizing it and found my way back. After traveling some kilometers, I caught up with a car driving in front of me. The driver was weathering the storm of snow, fog, and a thick cloud of darkness. It was a sort of relief to me; I now have a vehicle’s taillights to follow. I would take advantage of the car to lead me on the trip. Driving has never been an issue when there is inspiring music, but not that night. So, that driver would be my unsolicited and adopted lead and mentor. Little did I realize the lessons I would be learning afterward.
Although I started following the light of this car very closely, I was also automatically restricted and limited to its speed. I became at ease in Zion. My adopted lead would battle the weather and clear the road for me to navigate. However, the car speed was so slow that I could afford to make some essential calls and take some pictures. I nearly forget the time-sensitive obligation I had to fulfill. Suddenly, I noticed a vehicle approaching behind me at a higher speed. Within seconds, he overtook my adopted lead and I. Wow! The courage of the driver kindled a fire in me. I pull out from behind the other car, drove passed it, and ran after this new one. All I needed was a vehicle’s taillights to lead me out in the dark hour, and this truck seemed to have a brighter one. His speed was also better. My worry and timidity that moment varnished, giving way for confidence. I recovered some lost time within a few minutes of following this new driver.
However, I began having second thoughts after driving some kilometers behind this vehicle. I became uncomfortable with the speed of the truck. This speed was ok on a regular day but not on a wintry one, as I kept struggling to keep up with the speed of the driver. I doubt if this driver ever knew someone was desperately following him. Did he know but just wanted to prove his superiority? Come to think of it; he had his plans and schedule before leaving home that day. Also, his vehicle was more suited for that weather compared to mine. ‘It is unwise for me to keep following’, I said to myself. However, I needed the light from his car so much. Also, I never wanted to return to the slow speed of the former driver.
So, I made my choice and decided on a safer speed. As the truck was going farther from me, the darker my path was becoming at those moments, and the more I felt safe: not too fast, not too slow. I started weathering the storm alone at my pace and eventually reached my destination safe and happy. Although I was late, it was not unexpected.
Why didn’t I consider turning back when I first saw the road condition? Challenges are part of life. A proverb put it this way: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Ralph quoted:
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of course, I had turned back from a trip before because of unsafe road conditions. We just need to listen to our inner voice, as guided by the Spirit of God.
For days, different lessons from this experience kept flashing before me. I saw very clearly the importance of choosing the right mentor. I understood that your choice of mentor could slow you down, waste your gifts, kill your dreams, or change your destiny. I also learned how possible it is to have a mentor so buried in his high speed, in his plans, in his own goal that he becomes so insensitive to the need and safety of his mentees. Also, some mentors will never allow anyone else at the forefront, and no mentee must go beyond their level. Intentionally or unintentionally, some people are just that way.
your choice of mentor could slow you down, waste your gifts, kill your dreams, or change your destiny.
On the flip side, mentoring is not easy. It demands lots of sacrifices, commitments, and risks. It is a huge responsibility which many never dare venture. So, those willing mentors worth the appreciation and commendation. Many of them never work for gain or what they would eventually gain from their mentees but just wanted to give their best. However, as commonly said, “A leader’s error is a leading error.” So, a good mentor is open to constructive criticisms and willing to improve. The mentor who never listens to mentees, who believes he is above mistake and unwilling to take responsibility for his wrongdoings is not worth following.
The mentor who never listens to mentees, who believes he is above mistake and unwilling to take responsibility for his wrongdoings is not worth following.
Dr. W. F. Kumuyi, a unique scholar and pastor, gave an extensive and revealing message on the significance of mentorship in his message titled “Every Esther needs a Mordecai”. There is no doubt that life generally revolves around mentors and mentees. So, everyone needs someone. However, it is necessary to choose our mentors with care and wisdom. As there are many good mentors out there, so also are the bad ones. Imagine a mentor like a typical Tortoise in the world of Cheetahs. But “slow and steady win the race”. Really? There is more to that story. Also, an unreasonable and dangerous high-speed mentor would drive his mentee into a ditch one day. Many mentors have made mentees, while many have marred others. We do not have to be examples of mis-mentored mentees. Don’t rush it. Choose wisely, choose prayerfully.
Choose wisely, choose prayerfully
We must never forget that: CHRIST IS THE ONLY PERFECT MENTOR WHO CAN BE FOLLOWED BLINDLY.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep”John 10:11 (KJV)
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”John 14:16, John 8:12 (KJV)
As the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, Christ will surely lead aspiring mentees to the right mentor at the right time, if we let Him.
Akinloye, O. Margaret