“So, what do you want to do when you grow up?”
One of the most influential relationships of my teenage years started with that simple question.
I was staying after school one day, working on a project in a class and the teacher simply asked that question. I know now that he was asking much more than that question – he was asking to hear my heart.
My response was driven by what was at my core at the time. I told him that I wanted to be a businessman. I continued by saying that I wanted to drive a Mercedes SLK hardtop convertible, work downtown, arrive to a high-rise every day, carry by briefcase up the elevator in my coat and tie and get paid a lot of money. The translation that he heard was simple: this guy (me) cares about money, prestige, and chasing after status.
What was great about the conversation is that it ended with me realizing how wrong my view of the world was. My teacher went on, hinting around about how there are more important things to chase after in life than big jobs and fancy cars, but we were called to live with passion and with meaning.
Now, I have been a Christian most of my life (becoming a follower of Christ at a young age) and raised in a Christian home, so I do understand that my faith leads me to live a life for a grater purpose than myself. However, at the time when my teacher started this dialogue with me, I was not focused on my faith-relationship and what it called me to in life; I was focused on what I wanted. But with my background and knowing where this teacher stood in his faith, I knew where he was going with the conversation and gave him permission to talk to me more.
That day started a relationship that lasted for about a year and a half as I completed high school. This teacher really poured into my life, helped me develop, prayed with me, and studied God’s word with me. He was the closest thing I had to a mentor at that stage of life and he made a lasting impression on me. He challenged the way I saw the world, what I wanted from the world, and my what I was called to do with my life.
Although he forewarned me about some things that I would face when I went off to college, I chose to go my own path for a while, but I never forgot the impact he made on me. At times when I would hit low moments, I would remember our talks about the important things in life, chasing after the Lord, and doing the right things.
Eventually I was pulled out of what I had placed myself into during college, but all the while remembering the lessons and influence that this teacher had on me. Some of these lessons lead me to do the right thing, make the hard choices, and get back on track.
But it all started with a question and willingness to commit some time and energy. The influence that teacher had on my life was huge! He made a lasting imprint on my family (to the point my son’s middle name is in honor of this teacher), my faith, and the man I am today – and it all started because he was willing to take the time to pour into me; nothing fancy, just time.
The challenge to all of us who call ourselves leaders: who are we taking time with and investing in like the teacher who impacted my life? Who are we asking questions of and spending time with? Who are you shaping to be a future leader?
I am indeed grateful for many men who have poured into my life over the years and I am constantly challenged and convicted to be pouring into others.
Start with a question and go from there – find someone to do-life with and make it count; you never know how it may shape the course of their life.
Question: Who is someone who has invested in your life and how has it made a difference? How are you investing in the lives of others?