The Angel in the Marble

Bri Johns – Central Leadership Institute Pastor

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

This quote stirs in me a sense of incredible gratitude. Fred Dorado, my mentor when I was a teen, saw me as a lost, hurting adolescent, and helped me carve away my insecurities and pain so I could become the woman and leader I am today. Twenty years later when I thanked him for the role he played in my life (and still plays), he responded with this modified quote from Michelangelo describing his work to create the David statue:

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set [her] free.”

This may sound weird to you, a man and a young, teen girl, but it wasn’t. He was like a big brother in our church. He listened. He cheered. He scolded. He challenged. He brought my struggles and questions about life back to Jesus every time. He loved and cared for my family. He even performed my wedding.

Because of Fred’s coaching and friendship in my life, standing with me through tough family trials, moments of insecurity, and even pushing me to do things that scared me, I am different. His mentorship came at no cost to me. He sacrificed because he saw a slab of marble that had the potential to become something more and he willingly offered his wisdom and time to help me see it.

Everyone on this planet needs someone in their life to say, “I believe in you. I see something in you that you don’t see yet, and I’m going to help you.”

Oprah Winfrey was mentored by the late Maya Angelou.

Former Apple Inc. CEO the late Steve Jobs served as a mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Former Super Bowl champion Darrell Green was mentored by his middle school football coach.

The course of my life changed after Fred’s influence and mentorship. I left my job with ABC Radio Networks and pursued youth ministry full time. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of teens like he had done in mine. Flash forward 15 years after dedicating my life to teens and I am now Central’s Leadership Institute Pastor, coaching and mentoring young professionals (we call them residents) as they leap into their futures in ministry and the marketplace.

You may have seen a few of our CLI (Central Leadership Institute) residents on our worship service stages just recently. They are young, energetic, passionate leaders who want to learn and be discipled. I look at them now like Fred looked at me – beautiful masterpieces that God wants to emerge and set free. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s the most energizing work. This is what Jesus modeled for all of us – to go and see the value in someone and speak it over his/her life.

Like I said above, being a mentor is energizing work, but it’s not easy work. I recognize this had to be a tough task for Fred because I was one tough cookie! But he never gave up on me. He stayed steady and reliable and loving.

Carving away at a piece of marble to reveal a final piece of artwork doesn’t come easily nor quickly. It’s labor intensive. There are moments where you need to step back, celebrate progress, and begin again. There are painful chisels and parts that need to be chipped away and left behind. There are flaws that need to be exposed. A good mentor never gives up even when a hand slips and causes a setback. Becoming the best version of yourself is hard and having someone on the journey with you is invaluable.

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?

Take a moment right now and think of a person who encouraged and challenged you to be better – a grandparent, coach, neighbor, etc. How can you thank him or her for taking the time to show you your very best and helped set you free? Conversely, whose potential do you see right now that you can point out, challenge, and help carve into? Church, go and do these things and we will all get better.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24

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The Angel in the Marble

| Discipleship, Leadership |
About The Author
- I am the programming coordinator at Central Christian Church AZ. I also moderate the Central Teaching Blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!