Thursday, January 2, 2014

Strength in Numbers: The Splendor of Mentors

   As I look around at the various leaders of our generation, I notice something.  Even most of the leaders are followers.. that is, copy-cats.  They will borrow something that works, and take it to the next level.  Unfortunately, those that lead and those that follow leaders rarely do it from an unselfish motive to foster new creativity and individuality, but rather to help build their own dynasty and legacy.

   Almost everyone is familiar with The Lone Ranger.  If you weren’t a watcher of the original or re-run old B&W TV episodes, you probably saw or heard of the new movie of the same name that premiered this past year.  The idea was that this crusader wore a mask to conceal his identity, and only his Indian friend knew who he really was.  But, you see, even The Lone Ranger wasn’t alone.  He had Tonto, a very faithful comrade and sidekick.

   Everyone at some point wants to follow their dreams.  They have a vision and goals and wish to follow after them.  Sometimes these are dreams that others also aspire to reach.  Sometimes it is a unique dream or vision.  Whichever path you are following, it is almost certain that you will not reach your aspirations unless at some point, you find some help along the way.  Even travelers who take off on an independent journey have signs along the way to direct their path, signs that someone has earlier placed there to help them find their way.

   I just got an email recently from a friend at the library whose course I took a couple of months ago.  It was called “Blogging for Beginners.”  I would not be writing this article for you to read if it had not been for her initiative to develop a class where I could learn the basics.  I already had an idea for redeveloping a website that I had created about fifteen years ago, but it was this class that gave me the motivation and final impetus to get it done.  This new email was a follow-up to that class;  she was letting me know about a new program that the library is using that offers free online classes, and so I am actually signing up to take a few, including “Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners.”  I have been wanting to develop online video lessons for my guitar students, and the idea of audio/video podcasting sounds like the ticket that I’ve been needing.  Plus just today I discovered “Windows Movie Maker”, a basic video editing program.

   The point that I am making is one that you’ve heard over and over : that “no man is an island.”  Most people typically equate the term ‘networking’ to Amway or some other business, but if we take an honest look, all of us “network” with other people.  You cannot really function or make it through an entire day without getting the help of a few people along the way.  And a lot of them are complete strangers.  Let’s say, you take a trip.  Perhaps you have directions or a map.  But somehow, you still get lost along the way.   What do you do?   Quit, and turn around to go home?  No way.  You stop and ask directions… from a complete stranger.  And more than likely, they are willing to stop and help you.  On a much bigger and broader level, this continually happens in our lives over and over again.

   About two years ago, a dear friend prayed with me, and several months later, he told me that besides the spoken prayer that he had uttered, he had also asked a silent prayer that God would send me the people into my life that would be an encouragement and help to me.  And it was amazing… that I was able to share with him many instances where new people had emerged in my life to help me in certain areas.   Coincedence?  You might say so.  But I believe that ordinary, random events in our lives can also be appointments with destiny.  How so?   I think it is just a truth of life, but very few of these circumstances tend to be viewed in this panoramic way at the time they happen.  It is only after a season of time has passed that we usually gain the perspective to see the purpose in things that otherwise had seemed ordinary and mundane.

   I am thankful for my friends.  They mean so much to me.  But I’m also thankful for the acquaintances in my life.  And also for the strangers that I encounter on a daily basis.   They may come and they may go.  But each and every one of them appears and disappears for a reason.   You may say : you are philosophizing, or overstating the obvious.   You may be one that takes everything that happens at face value.   And you may even be somewhat right.  But I think one’s perspective is not always just a perspective, but a perception of purpose and meaning.

     One short word here about networking in groups.  It’s not only individuals that come into our lives, but sometimes we come across groups of people who can help us.   In recent days, I’ve seen the importance of making contact with groups of similar interests
and visions.  Today, the Internet can be a source or tool in finding these groups, as well as word-of-mouth and daily interaction.  It also affords us the ability to network with people all over the world, as well as those in our local areas.   I have encountered groups that exist to help entrepreneurs, guitar players, as well as hobby and health groups that exist to promote sports and recreation, or just social interaction.   My church has also been a rich source of meeting new people and interacting with them.

   Remember.  We’re not an island.  We are not alone.  Who is out there?   E.T.?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that there’s a God who loves us, watches over us, protects us, and also sends people into our path to prepare and equip us for what lies ahead.  As you go forward with your life and business, take a second look at your perspective with the people you come across.  Value them and appreciate them for what they have to share with you.  They might just be the “angel” that God is sending to help you.    If you have something to give in return, then give it.   Your life will be that much more rewarding for it.  But more than anything else, you will have a new, richer view of the world and people around you, and a better perspective of how it all fits together in the big picture we call “life”.


   “Two are better than one, ... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up ... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken ... If God be for us, who can be against us ?" [ Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10,12;  Romans 8:31 ]