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Business schools and MBA programs are typically staffed with instructors who have never owned a business and never will. It’s a symptom of our culture. One of the primary areas of failure in leadership, mentoring, management, and education is trying to impart information outside of a relationship and an experience base. The Western model of mentoring is an assembly line dissemination of material in a one-size-fits-all package, procedure or class. The results are surprisingly dismal, and the way we continue on with this anonymous washout rate is that we don’t measure results in terms of changed lives… you just have to attend, maybe not even pass a test.
The premise is that we don’t need to know the person in order to share the information. That’s true unless you need the student or employee to actually do something. Then we find out that our process is broken, and sharing more information won’t fix it. People are not machines. Real people have to want to do something from within their own heart before they can be successful. Before the learning process starts we have to deal with factors unique to every individual: What to learn, Why learn it and Is it sustainable financially? Those things can only be discovered in a relationship with a mentor who has done it before.
What to learn? – We each have a unique design and direction. Sometimes we don’t even know what it is! That’s the point of having a leader… it should be someone who can help us to make a Kingdom connection out of all the possibilities. The best teachers and leaders don’t impose their agenda on others. They start with the design that’s already in the person, and they discover it by asking questions, not teaching material or giving directions. They leverage that internal direction to decide what to learn.
Why learn it? – The second Kingdom reality is that our life path is written by God in the desires of our heart. Somewhere there is an overlap between God’s heart and our heart that defines our vocation, calling and ministry. Great leaders don’t impose those directions on hearts; they share the process of discovery so that the disciple is self-motivated after the encounter. Leaders discover motivation embedded in those heart’s desires by simply listening to hearts. Great leaders know that your own heart needs to understand “why” before you can learn something new.
Is it sustainable? – There are many initiatives that promise financial returns if we buy the teaching material or submit to the time and rigor of a mentoring program. The wash out rate in multi-level marketing is over 90%. We’re not picking on MLM’s; the education and corporate environments are nearly as machine-like. The financial connection is very measureable. Real leaders help people in practical ways that work financially and get real results. Any initiative worth following needs a credible financial component.
Who to learn it from? – Most people go through life without “fathers” – people who have been there before and are currently successful in the dream that resides in our hearts. These fathers are emotionally available to connect relationally, and they are already in touch with the desires of their own heart. Leaders have the incredible satisfaction of helping people to realize their dreams. In so doing, they often realize their own. Most great leaders, teachers and managers have an ability to make a heart connection with those they lead – even though it’s not the cultural norm in either the business community or the education mountain. Being in the presence of a great leader is always disarming because they will ask a question and listen for what’s in your heart. They will not share their own agenda unless it fits your heart.
How to learn it? The process – The learning process has a discipleship ingredient that is very relational. Jesus taught 5000, but he discipled 12, including one failure. That’s about the number of people we can keep up with relationally. The reason is that when we start Step #3 and screw it up, teaching the lesson over again doesn’t fix it. There are often issues of the heart sabotaging our progress that a relational leader can help with (a non-relationship classroom instructor will just fail you, and a non-relational manager will find a way to get rid of you.) A father will take the time to love you through it from the premise of understanding the direction of your own heart.
We all carry some wounds from non-relational leaders and mentors. There is only one perfect Father who is fully able to nurture us through to our destiny. So there are two simple conclusions:
1) Success can happen for you and me. Dreams do come true! We all have a role to play in the Kingdom… a destiny, a purpose. We just have to keep knocking to find it. There is both a father and a Heavenly Father available to help us.
2) You can be a relational leader who fathers someone else through to their destiny. Just make the connections by taking the time to listen to the hearts of your sons and daughters. It’s a lot of fun and people will love you for it.
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers Mal 4:6 NIV
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:16-17 NIV
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers… 1 Cor 4:15 NKJ