Before our recent trip to Italy, we read articles and viewed videos about the do’s and don’ts about travel overseas. A lot of the supposed advice, such as not to wear shorts or T-shirts, proved to be off-base. Especially when we went, with temperatures stuck in the 90s (not sure what that was in Celsius), going around in shorts and the lightest shirts possible was definitely the way to go.
Another admonition was to be wary of pickpockets, or individuals seeking to scam you out of your possessions by using various techniques. Although we never encountered situations like these, there might have been good reason.
Most of the time we were with a tour group of 29 men and women, including our tour guide. While none of us would have been mistaken for bouncers or professional wrestlers, I’m sure our sheer numbers would have discouraged potential con artists. As they say, there is strength and safety in numbers.
We see examples of this in everyday life all the time. I haven’t had an opportunity to see the giant redwoods along the Pacific Coast, but I’ve heard many of them tower more than 300 feet tall. At that height, we would rightfully assume they have a very deep root system to anchor them. However, roots for the redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens is the official scientific name) are very shallow, typically not deeper than five or six feet.
So what’s the secret of their stability? Those same roots can extend up to 100 feet, and they intertwine with the roots of neighboring redwood trees. The trees thrive in thick groves, where they fuse their roots together and form a natural support system.
Remember the thin, No. 2 pencils we used in school? I recall being able to take one, hold it between my outstretched fingers and with little effort, being able to snap it in two. For a moment, we could feel like Superman. But put two between one’s fingers at one time and the task got much harder; try three at a time and it might be the finger bones that did the snapping.
The same principle holds true even for relatively thin pieces of string. In fact, the Bible says as much: “A cord of three strands is hard to break” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Do you ever watch TV crime shows, maybe “NCIS” or one of the detective series? In almost every episode, some knucklehead decides to walk down a dark alley or into a forest at night. Oh, no! You know what’s going to happen: Nothing good! I have no affinity for dark alleys, period – but if I ever had to go into one, I’d make sure to gather several burly, mean-looking friends of mine to accompany me.
I’ve discovered this is one big reason men are eager to engage in mentoring relationships. Personal growth, whether from a professional or spiritual standpoint, is much more difficult when attempted in isolation. They might try to develop on their own, but it proves to be a slow, frustrating, even futile pursuit. Too many distractions and pitfalls along the way.
We need the constructive, sometimes creative friction that we gain by being together as mentor and mentoring partner to grow and mature most effectively. Proverbs 27:17 puts it this way: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Sad but true, the world around us has become less and less safe. As they say, it’s a jungle out there. Especially from a spiritual perspective. The Scriptures tell us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). There are two ways to avoid this danger. The first is to flee. The second is to travel in the company of fellow believers, supporting and encouraging one another, and applying the principle that there truly is strength and safety in numbers.
- - - -
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.