Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Iron sharpens iron. An iron knife gains a better edge and functions more efficiently when it is sharpened against another iron. This is why butchers sharpen iron knives with iron. Christian mentoring relationships function in a similar way. Just as an iron knife becomes more effective when it is properly sharpened, we are also honed and shaped by our connections with other people (Proverbs 27:17). These connections can lead to tremendous personal and spiritual growth.
I vividly remember the excitement I experienced as a college student when I was able to connect with leaders who cared about my developmental journey. As a result of those experiences, I vowed to dedicate part of my own life to mentoring and encouraging college students.
I currently mentor a small group of young women who attend a local Christian university. We meet regularly to catch up with one another, to encourage one another, to pray for each other, and to talk about what they are learning in their college classrooms. I also connect these young women with other female leaders from around the country so that they can expand their networks.
As a mentor, I serve as a catalyst for spurring these young women to reflect and grow. I want them to grow in self-awareness and confidence. More importantly, I want them to grow in their faith in Christ. God is molding these young women to be his disciples in each of their vocations as friends, daughters, sisters, students, and coworkers. They are learning that faith as it is walked out in the everyday life rhythms of home, work, and play is vital to our role as God’s people.
Conventional wisdom about the mentoring process tells us that the mentor is the person who teaches and counsels, and the mentee is the person who receives guidance. I continue to learn, however, that the mentoring process can have a reverse effect. While my goals as a mentor are primarily centered on my mentees’ growth, I also grow because iron sharpens iron. Many times I feel as if I am receiving more from these young women than I am giving to them. Their curiosity and zeal for life are contagious. I care deeply for these young women, and they also care for me.
Mentoring is not a transactional process of leadership development. Instead, mentoring is a relationship, and when both the mentor and the mentee are open to growth, each will be sharpened.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do your current friendships reflect the principle that iron sharpens iron? How could you create space with your friends or mentees to spur one another towards reflection and growth? How are you growing in self-awareness and confidence? How have you experienced reverse mentoring?
PRAYER: LORD, your word says it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Mentors give to mentees, and mentees also give to mentors. Reverse mentoring involves a sacred journey of giving and taking within the bounds of a developmental partnership. Please help me to create space for reflection and growth. Thank you, God, for your presence in my life. Amen.
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Dr. Vanessa Seifert is a DCE-Discipleship Catalyst at Calvary Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. In this capacity, she teaches, writes, and encourages God's people to see a discipleship culture in all parts of their life. Her work can be summed up by her mantra: "All of life is faith and all of faith is life." Feel free to connect with her via Twitter.
Show Me the Way
Seeking advice for the road ahead is a practice as old as people. How we do it may look different from one generation to the next, but all of us want what wisdom has to offer. Our series at The High Calling, Show Me the Way, addresses this topic from various angles. Our hope is that even the most professionally independent among us will remember the power of sage advice as we serve the Lord in our jobs.