Sharing on mentorship with a Christian Student Community

Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students(NIFES) Uniport, Thursday Fellowship.

Topic: Mentorship

Speaker: Labi Francis

Date: Thursday, 11th June, 2020.

I’m Labi Francis, a NIFES Associate and I studied Gas Engineering while in Uniport. I also served as Publicity Secretary, General Secretary and Subzonal Secretary in NIFES. I work as an I.T Engineer remotely(from home) for a San Francisco based company although I studied Gas Engineering. I led NIFES Career Mentoring Program together with my awesome team for three years and I just handed over my role as the coordinator. to Jennifer Chioma Amadi. last week Friday.

NIFES Career mentoring program is an initiative aimed at mentoring NIFES students in various career fields and we have over 20+ mentors spread in Africa, Europe and North America — all of them are NIFES Associates. You can read more here — nifescmp.org

Let me start with the scripture below:

“Get good advice and you will succeed; don’t go charging into battle without a plan.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:18‬ ‭GNT

It’s says you should get what? GOOD advice which means there are also bad ones. So basically, mentorship is about getting advice for everything that concerns you — career, relationships, family, academics etc

I must say that the Word of God is our final authority and it should be our guide. After having our foundation as the word of God, I’ll spend more time talking about other things we should build on.

Moving on, I’ll focus on the items before:

  1. Before you meet a mentor
  2. 2. Choosing a mentor
  3. 3. How to approach a mentor
  4. 4. Maintaining a mentor-mentee relationship.

Before you meet a mentor

Ask yourself what you’ll want to achieve in a particular area I.e. career.

Most times you find out that students reach out to mentors and they don’t even know what they want to achieve. It may not be clear but at least have something you are pursuing.

Example:

Mentee A says: I want to make money. Sir please teach.

Mentee B says: I want to make money by selling computers or writing programs. I’ve done my research on XYZ and I discovered I’ll need ABC. Please sir how do I go about ABC?

Who do you think knows what they’re doing and is prepared? I’m sure you can see that Mentee B is more prepared and have done a lot of background work while mentee A is just being lazy and didn’t provide more details.

Another example:

Mentee X: I need a spiritual mentor

Mentee Y: I’ve been struggling with my prayer life and I find it difficult to read my Bible neither read spiritual books.

I struggle with XYZ and it’s a weakness for me and I’m trusting God to help me. Sir I admire the grace on your life and I hope you’ll help me grow.

As you can see, Mentee Y has so much clarity and don’t have a vague description of what they want.

In summary of this item:

  1. Know what you want to achieve
  2. 2. Communicate it clearly and in details
  3. 3. Don’t expect your mentor to “just understand” you. You must learn how to communicate well.

Do you have those kind of friends that see you doing well academically and they’ll say “Man of God, please carry me along na” It sounds like “There’s nobody to put me in the pool” just like the man at the pool of Bethesda. Why not position yourself to be carried along by following the person closely and learning from them instead of waiting to be “carried along” Well, I was that kind of friend but I know better today. Take responsibility for your life!

Choosing a mentor

The most important thing is to know how to recognize differences in people. Your mentor can be your spiritual guide but may not know anything about business.

Another mentor may be successful at family. relationships but doesn’t know much about academic excellence. So you must categorize people and know how to get quality advice. If you don’t understand this basic principle, you may complicate your life.

Assuming you want to be successful academically and also run a successful business but your mentor is only successful academically, what do you do?

Learn from the one that is academically sound but also run to the one that runs a successful business for advice too. A mentor may not be positioned to advice you in all areas of your life. In other news, you may need to have more than one mentor. There’s this saying, “Before you ask a tailor to sew for you, check what they’re wearing”

Bishop Oyedepo saw a book by someone on “Church growth” and the Pastor didn’t have much members. Bishop Oyedepo said “Does he want to mislead people?” You have to be very wise these days. A lot of young people are going on Twitter to receive advise from people who need help themselves. Sieve what you hear, compare it with scriptures and know who you’re listening to. Whosoever you listen to controls your destiny.

How can you be planning to graduate with a first class and you’re listening to. your senior colleague who is not doing well academically, saying things like “That course. na die, just prepare for D” Why not look for the ones that had As and ask them? Or maybe you’re about to graduate and they told you life after school is. very hard ohhh. Why not look for those that are where you want to be and ask them for advice? Although it can be challenging, there are people who have overcome such challenges.

Moving to the 3rd and 4th items, I’ll join them because of time.

Very important: YOUR MENTOR IS NOT YOUR FINANCIAL SPONSOR.

Most mentees are not looking for advice but people who will solve their financial problems. Delete that mindset! When you want to approach a mentor, don’t have it in mind to seek financial favours except they give you on their own. Even if they give you, your attitude should be more of learning than receiving money.

Nobody wants liability even our parents. That’s why most parents are very happy when their children graduate because aside from the achievement, their financial obligation has reduced.

So come to your mentor with a clear vision of what you are trying to do. Do a little bit of research about them before reaching out. It shows them that you’re serious.

I’ll take questions now. My time is almost up and I keep to time.

Question: Please can I know the difference between a mentor and a discipler

Labi Francis: These days people have different perspectives to such titles but I’ll ask you to focus on what you want to get rather than attaching names.

So a “discipler” may seem to be someone who coaches another for a long time especially in a Christian setting but a mentor may be focused on different aspects of your life — career, business, relationships etc

But don’t focus more on this meanings. Ask yourself “what do I want?”

Question: Sometimes a mentor tend to fail as a human being, what do we do when a mentor, someone you hold in high esteem fails?

Let me give an example: Assuming I have a mentor that talks to me about marriage, after I hear of her broken marriage. What do I do?

How do I react?

Labi Francis: Very good question. I’m so glad you asked this question. I’ll give you 1k card after now. It pays to ask questions 😀

So assuming I have a mentor that failed in their marriage, this is what I’ll do.

  1. I’ll not let it affect me because I know that other people are successful in their marriages.

2. I’ll remember that my mentor has taught me a lot of things and may not be good in this particular area. I won’t bad mouth my mentor.

3. I’ll keep praying for my mentor and trust God to comfort him or her

Then the most important one: If I have a good relationship with my mentor, I’ll ask for the details of what went wrong so that I can avoid it.

The Bible says “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:3‬ ‭GNT

Let me tell you a story of a a big minister that lost his wife to divorce in America. He said, “He was so busy with ministry and he didn’t realize that his family came first. When she filed for divorce, it was already late for him”

I learnt a powerful lesson from it. No matter how spiritual a sister is, she still needs love and care. That’s why sometimes unbelievers play on this and deceive our sisters while the brother is busy asking her generic questions like “Have you eaten?” it’s too old fashioned. Be creative! Why not “Can I take you out?” Even if it’s “mama Abuja” 😀

Question: What is the need of a mentor when life is open?

Labi Francis: When life is open? I’m assuming you’re referring to the fact that you can get information anywhere. Well, that’s true with the fact that you can learn through books, YouTube and all. But when you need to CRY, you can’t cry on books. You need someone to stand by you and guide you.

I remember a lady that was fed up with life and wanted to go have sex with a guy because she was tired of disappointment and she felt that will tell God that she’s angry with him and don’t care anymore. I was glad she called me and we spoke at length and she finally changed her mind. Sometimes you need mentors you can call in time of distress so that you don’t make foolish decisions.

Question: Sometimes a mentor might be in a state of distress? Who do they meet?

Do mentors also have mentors🤔

Labi Francis: When your mentor is in distress, care for them. They also need emotional support! Then, you can give them space a bit and don’t put pressure on them with your requests. Most Mentors have their own mentors. Mentors are life long learners.

Question: In a Scenario where upon research on the Mentor and approach. Everything seem to be going well but at a point He/She seem not to bother about your growth process.

How do you get going with the Relationship?

Is it right to just cut off and seek another or push for a continuation at such point?

Labi Francis: Try to understand why and make all necessary efforts, if the reasons are not clear, you may choose to come back after a while to see if things are better but you may also have to MOVE ON!

I have few minutes left so I’ll mention this:

Some mentors come in seasons. Who you listened to a particular season of your life may not be who you’ll listen to in another season

Attributes of bad mentors

  • They don’t want you to grow
  • - The try to put you down
  • - They are jealous of your progress

Choose the ones that are opposite of the above.

Finally, let the Holy Spirit be your guide!

“The holy God of Israel, the Lord who saves you, says: “I am the Lord your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:17‬ ‭GNT‬‬

I hope you learnt something. Thanks so much for having me and God bless you all.

We organize mentoring sessions related to careers. The new coordinator is Jennifer Chioma Amadi. She’s an associate and you can reach out to her for more info.

Website: nifescmp.org

Email: nifescmp@gmail.com

It’s very good to read about people and we have done interviews with successful Associates on our website — https://nifescmp.org/interviews

You can connect with me on the below platforms:

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/labifrancis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/labifrancis

Website: https://labifrancis.com

Medium: https://medium.com/@labifrancis

Thanks to the leadership of NIFES Uniport for the privilege to be here. God bless you all 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Entrepreneur l Christian l Blue Sky Thinker labifrancis.com. @labifrancis