By Rev. Wendell Gibbs, First Baptist Church Toronto
My life originated in the island of Trinidad, molded by my single mother. We migrated to Toronto in 1974, and mom passed on New Year’s Day 2018. Yet, she remains the most influential person in my life’s leadership journey, a stark contrast of an absentee father. Upon the sad passing of her husband, she encountered my dad, who deserted us seven years after my twin sister, and I, were born. The faithful, fatherly figure of my mother, provided my greatest determination “not to be like my father”, and she has “mentorized” me into the man I am today. (a new word 😊)
Older siblings and family members were other influencers; however, my formative teenage journey was unmistakably influenced by an older friend that truly became a father figure. He encouraged my self-worth and self-confidence with affirmations of my development towards leadership. Through him, I would realize the importance of mentorship. Hinging on the fervent prayers of a mother and other support, marriage and children would teach me fatherhood with an added growing perspective towards leadership qualities.
Fast forward to the call of pastorate; besides scholarly training with previous sales and marketing experience, mentors remain an important part of my spiritual journey. I evolved from my early Christian conversion to now pastoring First Baptist Church Toronto. That early encounter introduced me to a spiritual father that has mentored me ever since. He became “Papa” through the years, and I’ve had the pleasure of two other mentors along my pastoral and spiritual journey. They are individuals I turn to for guidance, motivation, and emotional support, and they have shared in my journey of joy, sorrow and mistakes. One of my abiding scriptures is Proverbs 11:14 that teaches, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” I assert this wisdom to my life and others.
I close with one of my mentors’ wise counsels, to visit my dad in his dying years for forgiveness and healing. The worth of this counsel left us with a blessed relationship of closure at his passing in 2009.