"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations' " (Matt. 28:18-19, NIV).
Here we see authority being given to a leader and His response is to use that authority to set others free to use their authority to act and fulfill their purpose. This is leadership in its purest form. As I have argued, the true success of leadership is not what you've done in your lifetime but rather that your work will survive the next generation. No matter how successful you are, if your vision dies with you, you are a failure.
So, why is it that many leaders fail when it comes to mentoring? We don't mentor: ... because we struggle with a spirit of insecurity and fear, refusing to consider mentoring because of past experiences and ignorance of the purpose, value and role of mentoring in our leadership responsibilities.
... because we ourselves were not mentored or fathered by a leader—we have no reference for this important component of leadership.
... because we were oppressed by insecure leaders under whom we served and therefore we possess a negative attitude toward mentoring.
... because we did not have true leaders to emulate and have no reference to model ourselves after.
... because we were not formally trained in the principles of successful and effective leadership. We were not taught the value and role of mentoring in leadership responsibility and in some cases were indirectly trained to the contrary. Perhaps, we were taught to protect our position rather than to prepare a replacement.
... because we fear that delegating authority to others might undermine our own authority.
... because we find it difficult to give up power and refuse to let go of authority. We possess a sense of entitlement that makes letting go of a position or power difficult.
... because we place a higher priority on our daily work than our future plans. We put paper before people. We place priority on securing the present rather than preserving the future.
... because we have not ourselves experienced encouragement, edification and affirmation from leaders we were associated with.
... because we see progressive and aggressive emerging leaders as a threat to our security, authority and position. We have no room for dreamers and are suspicious of visionaries.
... because our insecurities require that all persons around us follow our orders and dictates so that we feed our sense of control and pride.
... because we are not true leaders.
If the most important act of leadership is mentoring—securing the future through trained leadership—how should we look at the task of mentoring?
Our first act of leadership should be to establishing a plan to leave the day we take our positions.
We should understand and accept the fact that how we finish as a leader is the ultimate measure of our leadership success.
We should be mindful that leadership is a privileged position and not a right to be grasped. Our position is not our personal property but one entrusted to us by destiny for a time. Our most important prayer should be to know when it is time to give up the position.
We must be conscious that we can be a greater detriment to the organization if we overstay our time in a position than if we left early.
Remind yourself every day that your greatest contribution to the future is your successor. So focus on mentoring.
Leadership is the most important activity in human relationships on Earth. If we are to see improvement in the quality, competence, standards, values and morals of leaders in this and the next generation, we must follow the model of Jesus Christ—One who did not leave leadership development to chance but spent three years training, developing, molding, shaping and modeling leadership in His twelve students.