Voices: Importance of role models who look like us

Lubbock High School in Lubbock, Texas (Photo by Robert Lawton / CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

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I remember driving up to the beautiful Lubbock High School campus. With its red-tile roof and campanile tower, this building is on the National Register of Historic Places. This is where Buddy Holly went to school, sang in the choir, and graduated in 1955. Lyndon B. Johnson, Harry S. Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt were among several important people in history who visited the old school many years ago.

As I made my way to the front office, passing through the Hall of Honor with pictures of former administrators lining the walls, I saw a face I recognized—Rose Mediano, principal from 1991 to 1996. I went to church with her. She was the first female high school principal for the Lubbock Independent School District. Rose went on to become an assistant superintendent.

She was one of us. I knew her story. She grew up in a small West Texas town, a member at a Hispanic Baptist church. Her pastor not only encouraged her to go to college, he also talked to her family, helped her apply for the Mary Hill Davis Minority Scholarship, and drove her to Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. And now, here she was in the Hall of Honor.

Celebrating those who go before us

In retrospect, I learned a few things from that day. It’s important to have role models who look like us, because we identify with them, and they help us to believe in ourselves. We have someone to emulate. They inspire us to work hard to reach our own goals.

We should celebrate people and leaders who inspire us at every level. It is exciting to recognize each other’s accomplishments and share our stories. I wonder how many people in my church have had great successes, valuable experiences or have special qualities of which I am unaware. Maybe they encountered some of the same hurdles I’m facing now.

How encouraging it is to hear that someone you know has overcome adversity and triumphed by the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 9:12 says, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” The accomplishments of others give us reason to be grateful and praise God.

I see Rose, and I’m reminded that I, too, should be a role model for someone else. My victories will be their victories. And on the flip side, my defeats could mean their defeats. I must lead by example.

Becoming those who go before

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 102:18, “This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” God use me; make my life count so that people who come after me will praise your name.

We can’t be afraid of unchartered waters. We must persevere for the sake of the kingdom of God and the people who have yet to know Christ. When we notice that we are underrepresented, perhaps that is the Holy Spirit prompting us to get out of our comfort zone, take a risk, and get to work in the name of Jesus. You can change the landscape to represent God’s vision. “All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

We must learn from the actions of others. Who can I empower? Just like Rose’s pastor, I need to recognize the value, talents and qualities of others, and not hesitate or be afraid to help them get ahead and uncover their true potential. We will be blessed to see them empowered and become the best they can be for God’s glory and the blessing of others.

Don’t hesitate to point out and speak of the sacred beauty in others. Perhaps that is the encouragement that will propel them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created.

Our society tells us daily that the ideal human is young. But biblical truth tells us that, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness” (Psalm 16:3). Regardless of our age, we all have something to offer. We all have value, but we must recognize it ourselves.

Don’t forget your role models

That afternoon after visiting the school, I contacted this beautiful lady and told her how much it blessed me to see her picture still hanging on the wall at Lubbock High. I’m sure it made her day to hear that her legacy lives on. All of the hard work and sacrifice was still bearing fruit. God’s faithfulness in her life continues to be recognized.

We all have role models who have encouraged us in our walk with Christ. Remember to praise God for them, thank them or their families, and share their story.

Matthew 5:14-16 reads, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

We must allow our light to shine, and encourage others to live in the light of Christ.

Brenda Rincones is the founder of SHINE Girls Conference, an annual event for Latina girls and women. The views expressed are those solely of the author.

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