Any champion in the making needs at least to be in four mentoring relationships namely an upward mentor, downward mentor, internal peer mentor and external peer mentor. Lets discuss these in detail.
An upward mentor is someone you look up to because he has excelled and distinguished himself in your chosen field. He has expertise or wisdom due to experience and maturity and you want to tap into his tacit knowledge. He may be a coach or a sponsor – somebody who has done what you aspire to and you look up to him. In an organizational or professional setting, this will be a person senior to you. His wisdom and expertise adds value to the emerging leader as he offers perspective gained from years of excelling in the field. Within my dental field I was privileged to work with an astute dentist, the late Bill Sylow. Bill shaped my view of dentistry. I looked up to him and learned a lot about practice management. I learned both what to do and what not to do. It is important for emerging champions to learn from the successes of their mentor as well as from their failures.
One of my mentors is continually in a quest to expand his capacity by seeking out new mentors depending on his current ministry focus. He currently pastors a church of about ten thousand but is aiming at pastoring hundreds of thousands. He has thus chosen to learn from Pastor Chris Oyakhilome who has a worldwide ministry and pastors a church of over two million. This upward mentoring expands his competences and widens his vision.
Downward mentoring refers to someone you are currently mentoring. This implies that while you are being mentored you in turn mentor someone else. When you mentor and teach others, you learn and grow. As someone so aptly puts it, “A teacher has not taught until the pupil has learnt and taught someone else.” Begin to impart to others what you have learnt, it increases your learning skills while multiplying your influence. I believe that emerging champions even while still being nurtured should nurture others as well. From the biblical record Barnabas nurtured Paul who nurtured Timothy. In turn Timothy was required to nurture faithful men who would be able to teach others also.
Internal peer co-mentoring refers to people within the same age group, same organization/profession influencing each other. The biblical David and Jonathan were peers who sharpened each other to fulfil their destinies. These are people who share same values and similar aspirations. Dr Matthew Wazara has been a peer mentor to me. We meet often to talk, plan, pray and sharpen each other. His influence has made a huge difference in my life. I am amazed at his intensity and perseverance in pursuing his God given dream in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Matthew has paid a heavy price in business but still pursues his dream with an unbelievable tenacity and passion. The world is yet to hear from this young man. He is destined for great things and I believe that he will change the face of healthcare service provision in this nation and beyond.
Champions in the making also need peer- mentors from outside their frame of reference. These are people who are either outside their profession or organizations. There are some weaknesses that can crop up without you noticing and if all your mentoring relationships are internal you may lose the balance. An external co-peer mentor challenges your routines, assumptions, beliefs and worldview. This brings balance. You don’t need all your mentoring relationships to just be from your church. If you are a professional you don’t need all your mentors to be in one organisation because sometimes you develop groupthink. So co-peer mentoring will allow people from outside to challenge why you do what you do. One of the strengths of Tom Deuschle as a pastor is that he has developed a circle of mentors who do not necessarily belong to the same church movement. Some of his mentors are diametrical opposites in personality and style and life philosophy. This has brought tremendous balance to his life and ministry.