“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.”
Wednesday, 20 January 2021
There is a time in the Hero’s Journey where the mentorship of the Hero must end so that the Hero follows his/her own path. There are times where mentorship even has a limit and that real growth – the process of becoming a Hero, of following a call – needs a change of mentor to continue on the journey.
In this Gospel text, John the Baptist sees Jesus for who he is. The moment he does, two of his followers abandon him to follow Jesus. And John releases his disciples – his mentorship is over: for them to grow, to embark on their adventure of faith, they must leave him and follow Jesus. John is an excellent mentor because he sees that his disciples have learnt everything they can from him. For them to grow, he must let them go.
There is always a temptation to stick with what is familiar, because it is ‘safe’, and not to grow. Following a mentor is in many ways easier than striking out alone into the unknown because, under a mentor, we don’t have to take responsibility for ourselves. After all, if things go wrong, one can blame the mentor.
Similarly, many who mentor others find it hard to let them go. Even in the best of them, mentorship is a power relationship – and no one willingly let’s go of power. More generously, the mentor may feel that the disciple is unready, or may fail. (We conveniently forget that we can learn from failure and that failure properly understood can be a source of wisdom).
But permanent mentorship has no place in the Hero’s Journey, in living out one’s personal calling.