Advice From Mentors

Did you ever receive terse advice from a mentor?  Some of mine came from an unexpected source.

Years ago I paid for college by cleaning houses for wealthy people.  One of the ladies I cleaned for had been the daughter of the Canadian ambassador to Tokyo in her younger years.  She was curt and efficient.

At the end of the school year, I announced to her that I wouldn’t be coming back the next year, because I was going to go back to secretarial work.  My comment was, “It’s only manual labor.”

I said the wrong thing to this stalwart lady. She shot me “the look” and said, “Young lady, we had servants when I was growing up, and lots of them.  And my mother could do everything better than the servants.”

The message?  Don’t underestimate the value of physical labor.  All work is honorable as long as it’s honest.

The same lady gave me another piece of advice:  “You can learn something from everybody, even if it’s what NOT to do.”

How did this play out?  By watching the college goof-offs, I learned that you get put on academic probation if you play when you should study.  And enough probation gets you sent home in disgrace.  I kept my grades up (I loved to study anyway).

And I learned from our wise Bible college president that “Holy shoddy still is shoddy.”  He was referring not only to our studies but also day-to-day living, how you clean your room, how you construct a project.

I learned “it’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”  THAT has carried me far and saved a lot of grief.

I learned from fellow students in the dorm that some people will find a way to sneak around rules they don’t like. That bothered me.  However, I learned to live by the code of conduct I gleaned from the Bible, no matter what others did.

And that has made all the difference. I have never regretted it.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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