Every year during Easter, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. The Good Shepherd is one of the earliest images of Christianity, often associated with servant leadership. Let us reflect on this from the perspective of mentoring.
Laurent Daloz, one of the leading authorities on adult mentoring, gives us a good starting point, stating that a mentor’s first task is to listen to the dreams of his mentee.
To do this a mentor needs to do two things: One, enter the world of the other, and two, be authentically present to the other in genuine dialogue and conversation.
In the mystery of his Incarnation, Christ entered our world to be human, and experienced the human situation in its totality, except sinning. This made Christ present to us, in our humanity. This was later enhanced in his Resurrection, where his divine nature shines forth and enters the same human situations he earlier shared in and with his friends.
This flow of grace and the spirit in the Cross and Resurrection is the genuine dialogue between humanity and divinity. Christ sets “the stage,” or as mentor, he creates an environment where we can discover or rediscover our dreams, and where we are empowered to pursue and to attain them.
The Good Shepherd, the mentor, empowers first by modeling and being an example that inspires us to desire and to choose to follow.
Here lies the inflection point that separates leaders who “wow,” but not mentor, and leaders who, yes, still “wow,” but at the same time, empower others to see the “wow” not just in the leader, but, more important, in themselves.
Mentoring is to believe in one’s self—not in a self-centered manner, but in knowing that one is loved and loved greatly. With the awareness and acceptance of one’s worth, one is moved to gratitude, and one gives back in love and service.
Young men and women
Let me illustrate with the stories of four young men and women who recently graduated among the first batch of senior high school (SHS) students in the country, and who all graduated at the top of their class from their public SHSs.
Coleen bested 856 graduates from eight SHSs. She made the first cut in an international scholarship grant and was asked to fly to Singapore for the final screening. Coming from a humble background, her parents are vendors, and they begged off as they could not afford it. She now awaits her University of the Philippines College Admission Test (Upcat) results and wants to continue pursuing media arts, having graduated from the Eugenio Lopez Jr. Center for Media Arts SHS.
Shawn was, for two years, an out-of-school youth. Graduating from high school in 2014, he did not move on to college and was idle for two years until he chanced upon a poster in 2016 about the opening of the Vito Belarmino SHS for sports. Having been a varsity swimmer, he signed up, and two years later graduated at the top of his class. Accepted into the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and also awaiting the Upcat results, Shawn wants to pursue sports science and become a doctor.
Alyssa, the daughter of the first principal of Vito Belarmino SHS for Sports, Angeline Torres, was enrolled in a private school, but wanted to pursue her interest in the performing arts. She is the best of the female singers in the batch and graduated top among 800-plus SHS students of the San Francisco SHS. She hopes to enroll in the College of St. Benilde, School of Arts and Design, where a scholarship awaits her once accepted.
John Reyster, the son of a tricycle driver and a housewife, studied at Famy National High School in Laguna for junior HS. He enrolled in the Ismael Mathay Sr. SHS because he wanted to pursue a career in the the maritime industry. He graduated with high honors among 150 SHS students, and has been accepted into Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela for a BS in Maritime Engineering, but is also exploring Baliuag Maritime Academy because he will be on full scholarship if accepted there.
Given a chance
These are stories of empowered young men and women, and there are more equally inspiring stories among their fellow students in their public SHS—stories of how their having been mentored and given a chance to pursue a dream made a difference in their lives.
The beauty of this story of mentoring is that there were many who came together to provide this environment of care and concern that nurtured dreams and hopes in our youth. To paraphrase an African proverb, it takes a community to educate and form its youth; the best environment for students to excel is a caring one where their teachers, their mentors, the whole community can love them into excellence.
The Risen Lord gave us this gift to believe in our goodness, and assured us of his love to be ourselves builders of communities of love and service, the community of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of perfect love and service.
In this Kingdom there is only one great leader, the Risen Lord, who “came to serve… and to give his life that we may have life and life to the full.” He entrusted this mission to the 12 simple men, and the women who were equally faithful to the mission, and through them, to us who are part of this great community of love and service. –CONTRIBUTED