What are you afraid of when you mentor others in leadership?

I heard myself voice my fear to a friend last summer.

Backstage at events is one of those magical places where I get to experience the “we’ve only got five minutes” catch up conversations. They’re short, to the point, but loaded with life and passion. There are a good amount of great friendships that have grown in my life during these 5-10 minute spurts in green rooms and in hallways around the country.

One night, Jon and I had some space for a five-minute chat. Both of us were on similar journeys of leaving something familiar for something new. I was telling him how exciting it had been to mentor people into leadership but how some ideas had shifted for me.

I was going to quit being overly concerned that I was going to mess someone’s life up with my leadership.

I told him that I had been concerned in the past that my mentoring or speaking influence might mess up someone’s life–not in a bad way–but in a “you didn’t go the direction you thought you were going to go way”. I want to mess up peoples lives in a good way, but what if at the end of the day they don’t think it’s that good?

I’ve been afraid that my zeal might encourage them to do something crazy (like quit their job, say yes to ministry, or give all of their time to a 6th grader). What if they regret the time they spent and the decisions they made?

Nowadays, I’d rather take the risk and forget the fear—especially when I weigh what’s on the other side.

I heard myself saying it and decided in that moment to stick by this:

The risk of changing someone’s life in a mentoring relationship is worth taking when the other option could be watching them waste it.

I’m willing to risk it. I don’t want to be timid about what I have to offer another person. Christ is in me. I’ve been given a personality and an ability to lead. Who am I to play small? Who am I to believe that withholding who I am is better for the others? I don’t want my friends to do that with me. Why would I think they would want the same?

I love how leadership and mentoring not only opens up possibilities in a person’s life but it opens up our lives to additional vulnerability and growth. Because yeah, we could make a mistake.

But those mistakes are worth it when our motivation is love. When our basecamp is Jesus.

I’ve had people mentor me, speak to me from pulpits and stages, counsel me. I never walk away thinking –wow, I really wish that they would have been a little less passionate and a little more fearful.

What are we afraid of when we lead and mentor other people?

Let’s push worry away.

Let’s offer constructive and creative thinking and reasoning

Let’s be ridiculously generous.

Let’s forgive so much that forgiveness is granted easily.

Let’s walk through dilemmas and decisions together.

Let’s be the safe place.

Let’s laugh more.

Let’s cry more.

Let’s be the think tank and launching pad.

Let’s architect of hope and vision.

Let’s be the loudest cheerleaders on the sidelines when the ones we are leading take the lead.

 

What are you waiting for?

What are you afraid of?

 

*Photo: Jay Mantri

 

 

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