"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
Last week I spent 3 days away with a group of guys who have become vital to the health of my ministry and personal life. We are each ministry leaders in difference capacities (we all started as youth pastors, but some have since sold out ;) ). We get away together twice a year - in the fall and spring - under the direction of a mentor and friend, John McAuley. It's not easy for any of us to do it - we've all got families with young kids and full ministry calendars. But, we prioritize these times and each other. I consider all of them to be close friends, but they are also mentors who have the ability and permission to push me to be better.
Part of what we did together this time was to actually forge metal - to shape metal using fire and hammers. It was easily the manliest thing I’ve done in a long time.
As we hammered away on the metal, the blacksmith we were working with mentioned Proverbs 27:17 and that the often over looked part of that verse is that, in order for iron to sharpen iron, one of the pieces has to have been made harder and sharper already. Steel, for example, is a hardened version of iron. I’m sure the grade 11 version of myself sitting in chemistry class knew this already, but I’d forgotten.
To get better as a leader, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who are stronger and sharper than you. Put another way - if you surround yourself with people who are dull and soft you’re not going to get better.
These guys I meet with are the sharpest and hardest iron in my life right now. Their investment in me has been critical over the last 3 years that we’ve been gathering. I can trace several victories in my life and work back to conversations that started in that group. In fact, I can trace nearly every significant advancement in my personal, spiritual, and work life to the guidance and support of mentors. Some of them journeyed with me for years, some for a shorter time for a very specific purpose. But, all have been instrumental in bringing me this far.
So, who’s sharpening you? Who are you inviting into your life with the specific intent to push you to be better? We all need people to help us, to push us, to challenge us. These types of relationships don’t tend to happen by accident. You have to seek them out.
Perhaps you’re someone who would say “I don’t really need that, I’m doing pretty good on my own”. To that I’d say - Imagine how much better you could be with help.