Flattery, Mentorship, and Hearing the Voice of God
The other day one of my grandkids, who is about 6 years old, decided to imitate me. We got into a wrestling match and during the scuffle he took off my glasses and put them on his face. All of a sudden, he transformed into "Papa the preacher." He used my mannerisms and words like I use. To be honest, I laughed out loud with delight at those few moments of flattery. It made me feel more connected and loved by my grandchild.
Like they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery. But if there is anything higher than that and more important than flattery itself, I would say it is to move beyond imitation to finding out who you are and the power of being you. Why be a cheap copy of a great original when you have the opportunity to be the real you?
That is hard to do when you first start out in life because you admire and want to imitate people who have impacted and impressed you the most. Imitation is not all wrong. It helps to watch and learn alongside a mentor as you walk your journey in life. But as you grow older, you begin to live out who God made you to be. More importantly, you learn how to hear from God on your own.
When Samuel grew up and was brought by Hannah into the house of Eli, he had an experience in the middle of the night where God spoke to him. He mistakenly thought it was the voice of Eli. Samuel however, was unable to discern the distinctives between the sound of Eli's voice and God's voice. That is the initial stage where God's voice sounds like the person who mentored you. Gradually you come to a place where the umbilical cord is cut.
Samuel had to lay down a third time before he recognized it was God talking and not Eli. And Eli said when you hear the voice of God again, go and lay down in the same place and say, "speak Lord, thy servant heareth."
As a preacher and pastor, it is my job to gradually lead you away from hearing from God through me, to hearing directly from God. The weaning process of mentorship goes from Eli giving Samuel over to God so that Samuel might draw from God himself and thereby find the strength he needs to lead, how he needs to speak for God, and be who God called him to be.