I wrote this article for the wellness newsletter at my job, and I wanted to share the full story with my blog.
I believe mentorship is the best way to make an impact and drive change within our communities. When we think about mentorship, we often picture a successful individual working with a person who is still looking to achieve a goal. Mentors for some can showcase a strong presence or body image. We describe a mentee as vulnerable and at times hidden. What if I told you that true power lies in knowing how to be vulnerable and not always needing to appeal strong. Being relatable is what makes a difference.
When I was 15 years old, I met Mr. Antony Presley at Clifton High School. He was my history teacher. Often in his class I would gaze out at the window completely lost in my thoughts. One day he asked me to stay after class and he said, “what are you worried about?” I just looked at him and said, “You wouldn’t understand”. He reached out to my mother with a translator and opened a door that I was scared he would ignore. To my surprise Tony promised my mom he would pick me up for school and drop me off every day because of some of the people I would hang out with. He became a father figure I never knew I needed. Every morning he would put on the Bill Withers CD and play Lean on me. He would force me to sing with him until we got to the school. He changed my life simply by not giving up on me. He is a military old-school man, yet he always has jokes to tell. I discovered I had a purpose and I set goals for myself because I wanted to be like Tony. I eventually set him with my aunt. They got married and have two wonderful teenage boys.
I became a youth leader at Empowerment Christian Church with predominantly urban teens and noticed this teenager named Josiah. He would always be in church with his headphones on. I asked him one day to write a rap song about his favorite person in the bible. I discovered he was a poet I decided to help him become a youth leader because I knew the teenagers looked up to him. One day we took all the teens hiking and they were adamant urban people don’t hike. I asked them to climb this hike and to stop often to release a burden. They were to walk with God up the hike. Josiah carried a backpack so the teens could write what they are releasing and dump it in the backpack for Josiah to carry. Once they made it to the top, they felt empowered and overjoyed. That day Josiah became leader and I learned to follow the teachings of my uncle, Tony.
I asked my teens, what is their biggest fear? I asked them to dig deep. I did not want to hear something superficial like fear of spiders. I was looking to understand what caused them to not accomplish a task. I was surprised at how fear can hinder a simple decision. We can teach others never to get distracted by the actions of the desperate and to discover the power within to be part of the victory. Mentors are people who at times carried pain and learn to overcome it. Mentors are people who worked hard even when others discouraged them. Mentors understand that they can cause a chain reaction by helping at least one person.
What you may think you lack I promise other people may need. Mentorship is not an easy task. While you mentor others you might be uplifting yourself. I am a true believer of where your greatest pain rest is where your most powerful impact is. Your spiritual gifts, talents, and experiences are testimony that can serve to raise a new leader for Christ. Did you have a mentor? Did they share their stories? Did it influence you to make an impact? Sit down with these questions and understand what you seek God to do for His children suffering He implemented in you to drive that change.