Much of what I learned about life and the nuts and bolts of doing ministry I learned from my grandmother, teachers, pastors and Sunday School teachers. These folks were my mentors long before I had heard the term mentor. Reflecting on their lives and impact on my life I came up with a few reasons they were so influential in my life.
1 They made people feel valued and essential.
They seemed to know perhaps intrinsically that people need to feel valued. They showed this by the respect they gave and the way they made me believe that I mattered.
2 I knew I was more than just a number to them.
Even though they were in positions of authority, they never Lorded it over me. They took time to get to know me, and I felt they cared and what they were doing was more than a job.
3 They were honest and straightforward even when delivering bad news.
They did not sugar-coat what needed to be said, they were honest and told me the truth. The influential leaders in my life were truth tellers even when the facts stung and hurt. It is not a favor to us when people shield us from the truth. The people that helped me the most in life told me the truth in a kind, but straightforward way.
4 They did not place blame.
If they were wrong, they admitted it and accepted responsibility for their words and actions. Nothing is more childish than seeing someone who is always looking for someone to blame. If you did it, own it, acknowledge it, apologize and rectify if possible and move on. Maturity is measured by being responsible and accepting credit as well as blame. Do not place blame on others, take responsibility.
5 They were collaborative
They asked for my help and coached me. They built teams before teambuilding had became a buzz word. They modeled the concept that no one of us is as smart as all of us, and they operated by that principle.
6 They lavished praise.
Encouragement was not just something they said it was their lifesyle. If you did well, they told you how well you had done. They would explain to others how you did as well. If criticism or correction was needed as it often was, they always did this is in private so as not to embarrass me.
7 They Challenged the status quo, and didn’t settle for mediocrity.
Remember, innovation starts at the edge of discomfort, and considerable progress happens when you take chances. The leaders that I was privileged to be around taught me that excellence was a choice and it was the proper choice. Regardles of how we find certain situations, it is not how things have to be, with God all things are possible.
8 They inspired.
Motivate people to be their best even when they don’t know their potential. The people who had the most significant impact on me were people who believed in me before I believed in myself. My influencers saw something in me when I was not sure that I could do much of anything or become a person that God could use. I did not understand motivation and inspiration in those days, but I saw it displayed by the people in my life.
As I look back over the years and see the outsized impact that these people had in my life,I am reminded how much our lives are shaped by the people who invested their time. Some of them would not be aware of the difference they made in my life, and their example inspires me today to offer the encouragement, inspiration, and motivation to others.