They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m convinced it doesn’t stop there.
As a 21-year old, the people in my village today are as important as ever. The only difference now is I get to choose who resides there. I choose who influences me the most, who I’m sharing life with and who I’m following.
Everyone has a voice, and if I’m not careful with who gets to insert their voice into my life I’ll end up following the wrong ones. Instead, I’ve chosen a few people I think are wise and caring and honest. People who aren’t afraid to point out where I need to improve just as quickly as they’ll affirm what I’m doing well. Those are the people I choose to follow.
Mentorship is as vital as breathing when it comes to living well. Something I’m convinced of today because I’ve witnessed firsthand how influential it has been for me. I can point to areas of my life that wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for a collection of guys who cared enough to walk alongside me for a time.
Guys that loved me despite my awkward youth. Those who watched (and continue to watch) my shortcomings first hand yet still believed the best in me. The kind of people who see what-could-be instead of what-is and what-was.
Their voices echo in my head today, something I’m incredibly thankful for.
I often think of my friend Ryan repeatedly reminding me that, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” And how much it matters that my life outside the church building reflects what I declare to be true inside its’ walls. I am reminded of the freedom found in God’s Grace by my friend Rob who so passionately lives it out. I’ll never forget the day my friend Lance taught me the system he uses to balance leisure, family and work.
And one time this Summer when my friend Mark told me—in a few more words than this, “You’re showing two different versions of yourself to the world and people don’t know which they’re going to get. It’s time to decide who you’re becoming and stick with that.” It completely shut me down for the day because truth was painful, but it was true and I’ve grown to adopt his perspective. Now I’m focusing on who I want to become in the future and figuring out how to act like him.
When picking who to surround yourself with, don’t forget to prioritize wise people who are further down the road than you are. Soak in their wisdom, be their friend, listen to their stories.
Choose your village wisely, it makes all the difference.