Your desire to have mentors or “fathers” is really commendable and I must say not out of place. I presume in your life journey you would have heard this saying “If you know where you are going, then your journey is short; If you know how to get there, then your journey can be shorter; Now if you know someone who has been there before you, your journey can be the shortest”, my guess is this quote captures your thoughts on the need for mentorship amongst other reasons.

Before we get to the body of this letter, it’s imperative that we source for some dictionary definitions of the word mentorship.

“Mentorship is a relationship between two people where the individual with more experience, knowledge and connections is able to pass along what they have learned to a more junior individual within a certain field” –              World Education Services.

“Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. It’s a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn” – Wikipedia.

“The guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution” – Oxford Lexico

“The influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor” – Merriam-Webster.

Following the definitions above, we can obviously deduce that the purpose of mentoring is to enable the mentee tap into the existing skills, knowledge and wealth of experience of someone with track record of achievements and success in whatever chosen field.

Also, we can infer that mentorship is between two people basically, the Mentor [the one with the wealth of knowledge and experience] AND the Mentee [the one seeking to tap from the former].  {Please take note of the boldened words as we would put them to use a lot in this piece}.

I am privileged to serve with one of Nigeria’s gifts to the world in the Christian music community, someone easily described as an A-list Christian music minister, and it amuses me the calls I receive from people who want him as a mentor. Now the fact that they desire to have him mentor them isn’t what amuses me but the contents of the discussions.

I receive calls like “sir my name is Mr. X and I am a gospel artiste, the Lord is leading me to the Minister of God as my mentor sir” and then I go ahead to ask a few questions and also give feedbacks like I would get back to you on your request and call ends. The shock comes barely 24hours after when Mr. X begins to send me audio recordings coming with notes like “my songs sir, I want the minister of God to listen and make corrections”. The most interesting part is the call that comes 48hours after the initial call with words like “sir God is leading me to feature the minister in one of the songs I sent to you, has he listened to them, please how do I go about it sir?, I will really be honored to have him on the song”.

Now, this is someone who called to register intentions of being a mentee, hasn’t gotten a feedback that the request has sailed through but already has sent audio files followed with request to feature the “mentor”.

There is also another part of these kind of calls that come where a supposed aspiring mentee wants to let the minister {supposed mentor} know that he is working on a single/album and would really appreciate any help and support he can’t get especially financially.

Does this not beg for the question if mentoring was the real desire of Mr. X or just access for personal gratification?

It might interest you to know that some of these things often times could/will come as bye products of the mentor-mentee relationship, as a matter of fact on a platter without you necessarily asking or struggling to get them.

What most don’t understand is fact that these men or women they desire to have as mentors hear the things you aren’t saying OR see what you aren’t making really clear to them when you first get in touch with them to register your intentions of being their mentee.

According to our definitions above, a mentor’s role in your life journey is basically that of an advisor. They are to guide you through their experiences and vast knowledge such that through their guidance light is shed on your path, thereby giving you clarity on routes that leads to success also helping you avoid ditches that can lead to destruction.

“A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser” – Oxford English Dictionary.

There are results visible enough anyone must have taken note of that propels them to want to become mentees to the ones with these results. Safe to say you see yourself as less experienced and your desired mentor as more experienced, what would be a wrong call is not your desire for mentorship, but your mistaking mentorship for sponsorship.

What you should always remember is that these mentors have been where you are and can be several steps ahead of you in conversations such that they listening deeply enough to know those who genuinely seek mentorship and those with ulterior motives, they may be all smiles when you talk but don’t get it twisted, in their mind you have been blocked, it’s only a matter of time for you to find out.

“A mentee is a person who is advised, trained, or counselled by a mentor. People who follow the expert guidance of mentors through established mentorship” –

Commonly used words today synonymous to mentee are disciples and/or protégés.

The fact remains that as a protégé, you want to become better in your found field or life generally and certain things would be expected from you including trusting and listening to your chosen mentor’s advice/guidance, as well as putting in the necessary work/efforts needed to attain the heights you desire.

However, you need to understand that mentorship isn’t one – way traffic where your mentor is the only one giving with you just receiving. Whilst your mentor{s} may not be asking for financial remunerations, or anything from you for that matter, it is wisdom for you to seek ways of giving back to them. There are diverse ways of doing this, the best of which is simply SERVICE.

Just as I have received amusing calls registering intentions for mentorship which turned out to be request for sponsorship and project feature; I have also received amazing phone calls that starts with registering the desire for mentorship and followed with “please let me know ways through which I can be a blessing to the ministry of the man of God”.

Some will go ahead letting me know they are graphic designers who wouldn’t mind doing graphics for him free, others want to be available as volunteers during his events etc. It should interest you to know that these second sets of people also haven’t gotten feedbacks of their mentoring requests sailing before asking to know how they can be useful to the one they seek to be his protégé lest you say “well they are already getting from him so why not”.

The thing is, the scope of mentoring is usually that of a long – term relationship, so it’s advisable that as a mentee you take things easy as regards the pecks that comes from the relationship. Let your focus be more on your growth and development in this case which will be in both spiritual walk and music ministry/career including other general life principles. Just be open minded and willing to grab as much as your mentor is willing to pour out. How much your mentor is willing to pour out is also determined by your obvious level of reception.

One thing to note also is the fact that as a protégé you can’t be too big for rebuke neither should you be selective on what, where and how you would be mentored. You cannot be willing to have a mentor whom you want to “listen” to only when it comes to your music/career path but won’t allow yourself be corrected on other parts of your life that may be clear to your mentor that you are getting/handling wrongly.

That someone is your mentor doesn’t make him/her responsible for all your financial, housing, health, feeding matters, or wedding plans. It is mentorship not help or care ministry. Am I saying your mentor cannot be a blessing to you in those areas, certainly not, but then years of relationship and how well the relationship has been nurtured may earn you such kind gesture.

Truth is when you have such need, you may not get to ask or talk to them about it. There is something called discernment, they would know and how you know this is that out of the blues they ask you very direct personal questions about those part of your life and your answers confirm what they have discerned. Remember I mentioned above they hear what you may not be saying. Some other times people who are aware of your personal dire needs who also know that you share such mentor-mentee relationship may be the ones to hint your mentors of such needs before your mentor speaks to you about them.

There is nothing wrong with seeking help to finance your project, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking people who are ahead of you to do critical listening of your music work. The people you can go to for such help necessarily doesn’t have to be your mentors, but then even such gesture is born out of a relationship.

One important thing to note also is that you can’t be mentored by everyone and not all those you think “you are led” to have as mentors would/should be your mentors, but I will talk about this in my next letter to you.

Conclusively, you need to be sure of what you want exactly before embarking on the journey to seek “mentorship”. Mentorship is a lot of things including helping you navigate your music career/ministry path rightly, aiding your growth and development but definitely not sponsorship or featuring in your projects.


Written by Babatope Adefunmilayo

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