Two things that are always true about good leaders: “Leaders are learners” and “Leaders can’t help themselves but to help other people.” This is very evident when a leader begins the mentoring process with a young leader.
Mentoring is never a one-way relationship because both want to learn and help each other. This is a natural affinity that draws leaders together. I call this “Mutual Mentoring”. The Apostle Paul is an example of this.
For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. (Romans 1:11-12 NLT)
Mentoring is risky. Only confident and secure leaders mentor younger leaders. The process of mentoring allows someone else to observe our habits and practices, both good and bad.
Leadership is complex and at times the responsibilities are overwhelming. Leaders are not always on their “A game” and can find themselves failing to practice what they preach. There are days when I look in the mirror and think: “You are a lousy leader”.
I like letting young leaders observe both my good days and my bad days as a leader. I let them know they are going to have good days and bad days too. The young leaders I mentor help me through my bad days…that’s what leaders do. We walk through life and leadership together, learning and lifting as we go. Mutual mentoring brings mutual growth.
Mentoring keeps me sharp and gives me energy. I love working with younger leaders. I learn amazing things from them and they challenge the way I think and dream. In most cases young leaders don’t have much to lose, so they just go after their dreams with gusto and boldness.
As we get older and more established, we have so much more at risk if we pursue a dream that fails. This is where young leaders stretch my faith. Considering what I might lose should never keep me from being obedient to what God is calling me to do.
Let me encourage you to seek out mutual mentoring relationships with both older and younger leaders. Iron sharpens iron. What you read and who you spend time with will do more the shape the impact of your leadership than anything else. Read God’s word, read great books, spend time with the Lord, and hang out with established leaders and potential leaders who will help you stay sharp.
Mutual mentoring has mutual benefits that will grow both you and the next generation of leaders. Take time today to identify those leaders and potential leaders that God has brought into your life. Be intentional about mentoring each other through all the ups and downs of life and leadership.