We often ask, "How do I know if I should listen to this person"? In choosing a mentor - results or experiences, which should be prioritised? In the following posts, I share my thoughts on what qualities to consider when selecting a "worthy" mentor.
"Every time we have a guest speaker in my church, I have learnt to first go out and check the kind of car he's driving. The kind of car will determine if I will listen to him or not" - JJ 2011 (real name withheld)
My thoughts on this post were inspired by the above statement. JJ is good friend of mine, who also happened to be a roommate when I was serving in NCCF Abia State.
On the spot, I agreed in my mind that one cannot listen (or hearken) to all the voices available. But then, how can one [safely] choose which voices to turn the deaf ear to?
The world is a noisy place, a lot of voices flying in the air - enough distractions equalling to hearing impairment.
The father – Your Hero
How easy is it to hear the voice of one's father even amongst the noisy mumbling of the closer strangers?
Such clarity that's as sure as one's heartbeat is needed in choosing a worthy mentor. Such clarity cannot be found lest in the place where the "dues paid" can be verified vis-a-vis the "results".
I was wondering why one's fathers voice is rarely ever mistaken. Then I realised that he's paid his dues. His is the same voice I've heard consistently for nine (9) months, while I was in the fortress of my mother's womb. Mostly speaking words that assured me he wanted me alive.
His is the same (male?) voice that I heard the most before I was named. No other voice has consistently maintained chastening and love in a just manner ever since.
How do you know if a person's experiences are enough dues paid to be your mentor? The answer is you CAN'T! Of course except you have your goals defined, and it's "evident" he's got virtue to offer in achieving them.
Who is a mentor?
1. mentor [men-tawr, -ter]: "a wise and trusted counsellor or teacher" - Source: Wikipedia
Reading from bottom to top, the most essential part of a "mentor" (according to the definition) is the "teaching" ability. Someone who cannot impart knowledge is rarely useful as a mentor. So what does the "heels" say about teaching ability?
2. Mentor [men-tawr, -ter] (Greek mythology): "Odysseus's trusted counsellor. He was assigned the responsibility to raise Odysseus's son Telemachus, while Odysseus was away fighting in Troy" - Source: Wikipedia
Anyone has read the Greek poem "Odyssey"? Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey . That seems to be the origin of the word, "Mentor".
Heels means Experience
The "heel" (anatomy) is the rear part of the foot, where it joins the leg. Many times (especially in the olden days), from the heels, you can detect how far someone have "walked" - speaking of experience. Today, anywhere the experiences (in form of dues paid) can be verified is as the heels. It could be in form of parts that adequately speak of the sufferings endured. It could as well be as it appears in the "hall of fame" - accomplishments that are rarely neither bought with money nor transferable.
Story of Thomas
When Christ appeared to Thomas, he didn't brag about chariots of fire or the powers now available to him. He showed him his "heels" - the palms pierced by some wicked nails and the side that was punctured by a dagger-like spear.
Thomas had earlier said "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20 NIV)
Do you wonder why Christ didn't do [much] miracles when he was raised from the dead? Even though he was raised as the most powerful eternal being, he didn't flaunt his prowess.
He consistently did the needful at every appearance - showing his hands and side. That's showing his "heels" - No wonder Thomas said to him later - "My Lord and my God!" (Vs 28)
Grass Cutting Institute (GCI)
I remember those days when I was in high school. We were blessed with some wickedly interesting teachers in Government College, Ibadan (South West, Nigeria)
After the general assembly in the morning during the rainy seasons, all students would be asked to cut grasses at the bushy areas.
Then, anyone whose palms aren’t dirty (proofs of holding the cutlass long enough) wouldn't be allowed to fill the attendance register.
JJ was wrong
My friend, JJ was wrong: The car (or any other physical belongings) doesn't make a man, lest a worthy mentor. Not the cars, houses, wives, trips, hypes, glamour, flamboyancy and/or anything that's naturally showy. Mentorship involves a transfer (special duplication) of some excellent virtues that money cannot buy.
Rule of the Thumb
Here's a rule of the thumb, to see what's insignificant in mentorship; If money can buy it, or it’s transferable (e.g. via inheritance) it's most likely not something that verifies a worthy mentor. A mentor needs to have at least three sticky qualities. He needs to be capable of imparting:
- Knowledge and
- Also capable of giving good counsel.
By virtue of being human, we all get mentored one way or the other; consciously or otherwise. While growing up, schooling and worshipping; we pick up virtues that make us who we are. This also determines our results in life. It's therefore important to consciously seek out who is worthy of our attention.