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Mentoring - Leaving A Legacy

Posted on August 18, 2016 at 2:00 PM


Everyone has that defining moment when they see and recognize a need, then have to make one of two decisions; either to make themselves available to do something to change it… or simply walk away. For me, that moment arrived as a junior in college.

I came home to spend the summer working and making what little money one could make on summer student help pay. And of course there is always the goal to have some play time mixed in wherever possible. Prior to the end of my school year, a colleague of my father suddenly died leaving behind a young family that included his wife, their two young boys and daughter. They moved to our town so she could take a job in my father’s office arriving just before my returning home for the summer. The oldest son was 12 years of age and I soon found myself with a shadow that was seven years younger and about a foot and a half shorter than that of my normal shadow. We spent hours together that summer doing simple things like shooting hoops, getting a burger together, talking sports, going to an occasional Detroit Tigers baseball game, but mostly just hangin’ out sometimes not doing much at all.

The summer sped by typically fast. It seemed like no time at all before I found myself shooting hoops in the drive with my summer buddy trying to figure out how I was going to broach the subject of my leaving and heading back for school.

The conversation began, “You know it’s time for me to head back to college right?”

“So when do you have to leave?”

“I should head back sometime in the next week so I can get squared away and ready for classes to begin the week after that.”

The next shot went up, missed and went bounding back toward my little buddy whom I thought sure would grab it, the little ball hawk that he was, and immediately put up another. The ball just kept bouncing past what I soon saw to be a little 12-year-old clump of a person sitting in the driveway sobbing uncontrollably.

I went over and knelt down beside him and said, “You know I have to go back to school.”

I was about to hear the words that would change my life forever and that will never leave the audio banks of my mind.

“I always thought you would be my dad.”

The next thing I knew, there were two clumps of humanity in the drive sobbing uncontrollably.

“I can’t be your dad, but I will be your big brother… and I won’t leave you.”

I promised I would work out something and the next thing I knew, I was making application to attend a school near my hometown. Our relationship continued on as he grew toward manhood, and I did my best to support a young man making a major transition in his life after losing his father. During that period of time, I learned a lot about myself and how important my life was to another life. But more importantly, I learned how significant his life was to mine. And I grew in so many aspects of my own life as we shared real “living” together. It was my first mentoring experience, one that I would never desire to go back and change even though it meant big changes for my personal plans.

The question I have for you right now is; how will you respond when that moment arrives in your life, the moment when a need in another confronts you to your face? Will you step up, or step away? 


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