Last month one of my mentors left his earth-shackles and went to heaven. Ray Clendenan was the first adult outside of my family who told me I had potential to do something great for God. He was the state director of Youth for Christ. My parents moved when I was in my first year of university studies out-of-state, and I was not looking forward to spending the summer in an unfamiliar place.
Within a week of returning home, Ray asked if I would join a Teen Team for the summer with five other university students, and I accepted. All of the other team members were skilled musicians, but I was out of their league musically and felt miserable.
Ray sensed my uneasiness and pulled me aside. I told him I loved being on the team, but I didn’t want to hurt the group’s musical reputation. Ray looked me in the eyes, and said: “Carol, our main purpose is introduce teenagers to personal faith in Christ, and your contribution to the group is outstanding. You concisely introduce the songs and tell humorous stories that keep people laughing and listening. And when you mingle in the crowd afterwards, it’s awesome to see how people relate to you. They actually cluster around while you are telling them how to establish a meaningful relationship with Christ. You have a remarkable gift of evangelism. Young lady, you have personality!”
When Ray finished, my self-esteem was intact. He made me believe I had something worthwhile to contribute to the team’s ministry, and that I was not only needed, but wanted. When he established that my main function on the team was personality, the rest of the group applauded my gifts. Each of us understood our individual purpose.
I recently wrote down how Ray’s visionary leadership influenced me:
He made me feel valuable. By affirming my strength (personality) and my spiritual gift (evangelism), he made me realize I made an essential contribution to the team.
He painted a clear picture of our mission and my contribution.I finally understood that our goal was not to do professional concerts. Our goal was evangelism, and my place on the team was key if we were going to fulfill our purpose.
He set me up for success, not failure. He freed me from having to do something I wasn’t good at, to do what I could do best—meeting people and telling them about Jesus.
He inspired me. I felt privileged to communicate truth to people who needed a fresh touch from God in their lives. I knew there was nothing more important I could do with my time and energy. This was KINGDOM WORK!
He gave enough training to feel prepared, but enough freedom to accomplish the mission in creative, contemporary ways.Community Bible Study Teaching Director, Margaret Frost says, “People are encouraged to become their best when you hold a crown just a little above their heads and ask them to grow into it." That’s what Ray did and I salute this man and the great impact he had on my life!
Question: Who mentored you and how did it make a difference in your life?