We Cannot All Be Chemists

A Story of Encouragement

Deanna was a high school student who worked and studied hard, and usually achieved excellent grades. She had taken “chemistry” as a college requirement, and had applied herself in all of the assignments—but for some reason, wasn’t faring well. It just wasn’t her thing. She flunked the course. No doubt, this was the first for Deanna. It would surely devastate her and her family.

Fortunately, her teacher was an unusual man. He had the heart of a mentor and had taken a personal interest in Deanna. He did not feel threatened by her failure, and knew she would go on to flourish as a college student. However, he still had to give her the “F” on her report card and this troubled him. He was a sensitive man, and his only thought was for Deanna and what this grade would mean to her when she took it home. He was torn, but determined to resolve the issue this way. He put an “F” next to “chemistry” on the card, but out in the margin he wrote these words: “We cannot all be chemists—but oh, how we would all love to be Deannas.”

What empowering words. Words that contain both grace and truth. Those are the kind that come from rare mentors. They objectively address and assess our flops, fumbles and failures, but encourage and enable us at the same time. All of us need this kind of input during our lifetime, but sadly, many never receive it.

The above is an excerpt from “The Greatest Mentors in the World – 32 Relationships God Used to Change the World,” by Tim Elmore (Kingdom Publishing House, 1996).