Have you ever had a mentor bring you with them somewhere?
I remember my Dad bringing me to the warehouse. As a boy, I loved to drive the forklift and run along the tops of the piles of shingles. The smell of tar and asphalt, cigars and coffee all remind me of the business world. I remember watching my Dad interact with his employees, banter and build. Being with him was an experience.
I've had lots of experiences like that along the way: helping Bill load a moving truck, speed-walking with Robert and God in the pre-dawn, leading a retreat with Bill Robinson, a missions trip with Jose Barreda, a conference with Sherrie Leatherwood, a Small Group with Carrie Ngongo. These experiences pile up, mold and shape.
There is no substitute for being a sidekick.
In Exodus 24, Moses takes Joshua with him up the mountain to meet with the Lord. We don't hear about Joshua's experience. What did he think? What did he learn? What impact did this have on him?
When Joshua led the people of God, you didn't see a lot of going up the mountain to meet with the Lord. This wasn't a practice that he imitated or carried on. So, was it important?
I think it was.
The specific practice doesn't matter as much as the experience of being a sidekick, of being invited to be with someone. Moses' investment in Joshua didn't consist of a lot of "Do this" and "Do that" but with a lot of "Come with me here" and "Let's go there." For decades, Joshua was with Moses.
This model of mentoring - the With You Model or the Sidekick Model - is powerful. If wisdom is more easily caught than taught, we as leaders need to set our people up to catch from us. We need to invite them to be with us.
I knew a pastor once who preached fine, prayed fine, led worship just fine, but never wanted to be with his people. Huge leadership vacuums emerged and the church shrank as leader after leader got sucked in unprepared and spit out burnt out.
One of my regrets - and this has a lot to do with the financial realities of campus ministry - is that I didn't get to sidekick it with the guy who followed me at W&L. He's doing great and he will do great, but I wonder what I failed to pass on in the swift transition. Time will tell and he'll pick it up on his own, I'm sure.
But what if we could do it differently? What if we could bring people along with us in our ministry?
Imagine Redwood ministries, Everest ministries, Cathedrals --- things that take multiple ministry lifetimes to build. We can't hit the reset button every generation. We need to include some sidekicks. We need to be sidekicks.
Have you ever been a sidekick?