By Tyrone Smith
“. . . you must remember that you cannot always choose the people who come into your life, but you can choose their place in your life. Make sure you choose well.”
Using your influence to make a difference in the lives of others has to be an inner desire to serve individuals regardless of their current state in life. The people that have help to shape me as individual were willing to use their influence to impact my life as mentors. A mentor is someone who supports, equips and empowers the life of someone in need of guidance, hope and direction. Three individuals that have served as mentors in my life are Coach Dennis Brantley, Walter Abercrombie and Pastor Ralph Douglas West.
Though I have had many mentors throughout my life, Coach Dennis Brantley has been one of my greatest mentors. His presence in my life has been everlasting because he has helped me become the man that I am today. He served as an inspiration, supporter, and true influencer in my life as I grew from a middle school student looking for direction to a young man with goals and aspirations. I met Coach Dennis Brantley as an eight-grade student that was searching for direction in life after my parents divorced. He taught me the meaning of embracing life despite obstacles, he challenged me to hard work, he encouraged me to never give up, and he inspired me to believe in myself even when I did not. Because of his role in my life, I believe Coach Dennis Brantley is undoubtedly the true definition of a mentor, a role model that is selfless in all that he does to make a difference.
Former NFL player Walter Abercrombie made a difference in my life as well; he served as my mentor during my time at Baylor University. When I left home to attend Baylor University, I soon stepped into an unknown environment, which heightened my fear of college life. Though being the first in my family to attend college was a major adjustment for me, Walter gave me sound advice, insight and direction to help guide me through this challenging time. The weekly meetings and conversations that I had with Walter served as moments of impact, growth and development for me as a young man. As a result, Walter has been highly instrumental in shaping the way that I connect and engage with others as he truly led by example.
I am truly thankful for my pastor, Ralph Douglas West, who has been another great influence in my life as a mentor. His life is a pure example of true leadership, drive, and a genuine desire to live a life for Christ. I not only refer to him as my pastor but also refer to him as a friend and true inspiration. Through all of the life experiences and challenges that I have faced, he has always been a source of encouragement, wisdom, and sound teaching. I will always appreciate and cherish his influence and impact on my life.
These three individuals have made such a great impact in my life that I am compelled to do for others what they have done for me. They each have taught me that a true mentor understands, performs selfless acts of kindness, and offers genuine support and guidance. One of my greatest contributions in life is mentoring young men that are unsure or unaware of their direction or purpose in life. In doing so, I am fulfilling my dreams as I help build the dreams of others―dreams that would often go unnoticed and unfulfilled without the influence of a great mentor.
Who’s influencing your life?