Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. He did miracles and wonders to establish His divinity, not to show off or say, “Hey, look at Me.” He deflected glory for everything He did to the Father, never taking credit Himself.
Mentors who mentor like Jesus love to watch their mentees go beyond themselves . . . to do greater things than they’ve done.
Peter Drucker was thrilled by the success of his mentee, Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last. Drucker wrote dozens of books and greatly impacted modern business management, but he never hesitated to help Collins shape his message and business philosophy. Collins wrote:
“I’ll never forget asking, ‘How can I ever pay you back?’ and his saying, ‘You’ve already paid me back. I’ve learned so much from our conversation.’ That’s when I realized where Drucker’s greatness lay, that unlike a lot of people, he was not driven to say something. He was driven to learn something. I feel proud that I followed the advice. It’s a huge debt. I can never pay it back. The only thing I can do is give it to others. Drucker had said, ‘Go out and make yourself useful.’ That’s how you pay Peter Drucker back. To do for other people what Peter Drucker did for me.”
Great mentors know who they are. They get great joy in seeing their wisdom, knowledge, and experience live on to help others.
Collins’ comment about Drucker’s listening and learning is huge. When a person knows who he is, he’s comfortable in any situation. He doesn’t spend energy wondering what the other person is thinking. He can spend all his energy listening and trying to understand.
I’ve heard horror stories of mentors who were motivated by their egos. Retired executives are especially experienced but often especially egocentric too. Others have looked up to and sometimes feared them for years and years. “They know because they know.” But as mentors, they can be too wrapped up in their successes . . . their way of doing things.
They forget Jesus asked questions . . . lots of questions, and He listened. He didn’t just talk. On those few occasions when He did, He was intentional about it. Many, if not most, of His parables came as answers to questions.
Jesus tailored His message . . . His answer . . . to the needs of the asker. He didn’t ramble on and on about what He knew.
Thus, the selfless mentor is a good listener, dispensing his wisdom to meet the needs of his mentees, not his need to tell all he knows.
That’s the selfless heart . . . the God-seeking heart of the mentor.
This post was adapted from Mentor Like Jesus: His Radical Approach to Building the Church.
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