In the American church, we tend to think of leadership development as a classroom and curriculum-based process, but Jesus had a better idea: spend time with people. Jesus allowed His life to rub off on His chosen leaders and to pour His wisdom into them, and we can do the same. Sometimes it’s a matter of spotting the natural opportunities that come along while at other times, its an intentionally-planned conversation.
Everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.
Mentoring young people has been a consistent part of my business model since I started my company 14 years ago. It has guaranteed that my skills stay sharp, my slang stays current, my tweets fly across mobile phones, and that the market of tomorrow will know, like, and trust me. If nothing else, another way to look at the value of mentoring is that they will be caring for you when you are no longer willing or able to work. Heed my warning: Ignore the next generation at your own peril. If you mentor the next generation, you can ensure that you have a future market.
Call it discipleship. Call it mentoring. Call it whatever you want, but one of our kingdom assignments is to gather people around us and invest in them. Jesus did it with the twelve, and even more with the inner circle of three. Paul did it with Barnabas, then Silas, then Timothy. Barnabas did it with Paul, then John Mark. John did it with Polycarp and Batman did it with Robin.
The mentors we admire are like
the bosses we love to work for: they are not controlling people. They trust
you when they’re not around. They give you
an assignment and they rely on you to follow through. They’re not peeking in
your window. They don’t squint through your keyhole. They’re not checking up on
you through a friend or putting spies on your tail. They trust you.