WHEN SOMEBODY BELIEVES IN YOU.
The myth of the so called self-made man or woman has long been debunked in leadership circles. No significant people in life, made it without the influence of others. Central in the scheme of things, is the role of mentors. “When we consider the fragmentation of the family, the speed of change demanding the constant learning of new skills and our mobile society separating extended families, the need for mentoring increases. We often forget how powerful it is when somebody believes in us. “ Rob Mc Farland
My understanding about mentorship, is that these are real life exchanges that help those with lesser experience be guided by someone with more experience (not necessarily older) to discover their potential and pursue their purpose in life. In his book The Heart of Mentoring, David Stoddard gives a very succinct explanation as to why we need mentors. He highlights three reasons that informs a mentoring relationship:
- To help me with my passion
- To help me with my pain
- To help me with my priorities
I was indeed privileged that in critical stages of my life, I had great mentors. These were men and women of a special kind, who believed in me, took me under their wings and brought the best out of me. They were not necessarily movers and shakers in society but people with such unique qualities, who saw the potential in me and exerted themselves to walk the extra mile with me. Today, I want to pay special tribute to two incredible men that I was privileged to have in my life. Firstly, Pastor Simpson Ngcizela who took me under his wings during the early days of my spiritual formation and in whose life, I saw the miraculous power of God being manifested in such a profound way. He literally took me as his son and we travelled widely together on Kingdom assignments. I recall one of my highlights being invited as a guest speaker through his recommendation, by the Tanzanian Kingdom Leadership Network in Dares Salaam to address a very prestigious conference in 2015. Then there was Professor Stef Coetzee who was a great fountain of wisdom during my early days in politics and later working with him in the leadership of the Afrikaanse Handels Instituut. They were God fearing men and both have passed on already. I will forever be indebted to them for the investment they have made in my life over many years.
WHY THE INVESTMENT IN THE YOUNGER GENERATION?
Investing in the younger generation is not just a good thing to do but a God thing. One of the central tenets of the Great Commission is development. It is this generation that is currently at the forefront of change in the world, motivated by challenges, determined to get ahead at a brisk pace in life and constantly searching for the why part of the situation. It is also a generation that is grappling with major socio-economic issues like inequality, the environment, technology etc. They are therefore looking for role models worth emulating and admiring.
The Bible has many mentor related examples. One of my favorite examples is the one between Elijah and Elisha. The significance about this relationship, was that Elisha had a hunger, passion, yearning and strong desire for the anointing of his mentor. He asked at Elijah’s departure for a double portion of his anointing; God’s divine power, glory, confidence, boldness and authority. ( 2 Kings 2:9 ). I think one of the biggest tragediesin our current times, is that we are not that hungry enough to emulate and mirror the values and attributes of our mentors. As if people are just going through the motions, waiting for their turn to take over leadership.
WHAT INFORMS AN EFFECTIVE MENTORSHIP RELATIONSHIP?
Mentorship is not an event but a lifestyle, whereby there is a deliberate and intentional engagement within the relationships that God placed us in. Just a few pointers in this regard:
- Selecting a mentor must be a well-considered decision
You need to be sure that the individual has experience and the maturity to guide you, demonstrates excellence in the area that you need assistance, has the time and energy to devote to you, believes in you and shares similar values with you.
- There must not be any ambiguity about role expectations
Be absolutely clear in your mind why you need a mentor and agree on the ground rules right up front so that there is no misalignment of expectations.
- Mentorship is a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint
The journey is more important than the destination. Both parties need to have patience, perseverance and persistence.
- It is more of a heart journey than a head journey
A mentor understands that it is about sowing and impartation; hence motives are paramount. We do it for the right reasons and not as a fan club or mere dispensing of expert advice.
- An invaluable opportunity for mutual learning
I have often been astounded on how I had to abandon some of my own prejudices and unlearn things that I held on so dearly when exposed to the rationality and validity of a different point of view expressed by someone I mentored. Opening up our different worlds to each other, is such an enriching experience.
Both parties need to embrace the opportunity with a high degree of humility. For the mentor it is an affirmation of confidence and the mentoree, an opportunity to unlock potential.
‘’ There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there are not many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.” 1 Corinthians 4:15 ( Message )
I want to raise the following important questions very sharply with you :
WHO IS MENTORING YOU?
WHO ARE YOU MENTORING?