Archives For Mentorship / Leadership

What follows is the introduction to “Pursuing Maturity” – I am looking to post different chapters as they get completed. I guarantee this book will be vibrant with illustrations. I start with one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.

Pursuing Maturity Introduction

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

I grew up in South Africa and Nelson Mandela has been one of my heroes for many years. I personally feel a sense of gratitude to him for saving the land of my birth from becoming another Rwanda.

My formative years were spent under the heavy hand of apartheid. The ruling National Party was a brutal regime that allowed very little criticism and put down dissent with an austere and often vicious hand. They built up an impressive military, which I avoided serving in by exercising my US citizenship at the age of 18 and leaving the country. I was not willing to fight for the apartheid system and, in my mind that meant not making South Africa my future home. Many of my friends ended up in townships shooting at rioting crowds and some gave their lives fighting on South Africa’s borders with other nations.

Many of us knew the penalties of speaking up against the ruling government. The laws were carefully crafted to create an unfair advantage to the privileged white population and to control and oppress the black majority. We knew of the savage murder of Steve Biko in prison and of the terrible price other dissidents faced who tried to oppose or speak against the laws or governing systems. We also knew that South Africa had strengthened itself to withstand any outside invasion. It had developed nuclear weapons and even a strong air and naval force in addition to its massive army. It’s internal police were brutal and it seemed from inside and out to be an impenetrable regime.

So when Nelson Mandela, without the firing of a single shot, was able to bring down the apartheid government, it shook the world. From a prison cell, Mandela negotiated the conditions for a new South Africa. He transitioned from a prison to a palace and took over the leadership of a nation. There was nobody else with his stature who could have accomplished what he did and he did it because he had come to a place of “maturity”.

This book is about the benefits and rewards of pursuing a mature life. Mature people do great things for society. They also achieve a high degree of personal fulfillment. The target audience of this book is Christians and so I will draw a good bit of inspiration from the Bible. One of the greatest criticisms I hear about people of faith is that they are unbalanced and often unstable. Many believers also are not good at articulating their faith in a way that makes sense to the rest of society. Hopefully this book will inspire Christians to pursue a place of balance and wisdom, a place, like Mandela, of “maturity”.

I’m passionate about employment.  My corporation in California currently employs 15 full-time people, six part-timers and a number of contract laborers.  During the past five years of recession, we have fought for every position and have let no one go for financial reasons. My wife and I always joined the team in taking 10% payroll cuts whenever needed.  We also continued to give medical and vacation benefits to our hard-working staff, considering it a privilege to help in any way we could.

It seems like its open season against employers and job providers. The bottom line is that providing employment is an amazing and noble endeavor. God Himself is the greatest provider of all. It is an interesting study to see how He provided for the fledgling nation of Israel in the wilderness. The ‘manna’ from heaven fell every morning to satisfy the hunger of a million people. Even after the Israelite people worshiped the golden calf, the next morning they woke up and the manna was there. Jesus was a provider and His great feedings of multitudes had one goal, provide the practical needs of people. Even on the cross while dying, Jesus called to Himself the apostle John and made sure that the care and provision of His mother Mary was transferred to John.

Jesus told one particularly insightful story about an employer in Matthew chapter 20. The man went looking for people to hire at the beginning of the day and then in the third hour, the sixth hour and again in the ninth hour. Even in the 11th hour he went again and hired more people. At the end of the day he paid them all the same. What I learn from this parable is that God loves to see people employed. The employer in this story represents God and his payment of the employees was based not just on what he could get from the employee but on what he could provide to them and for them. He saw employment as a way to bless people, to provide dignity and worth to their lives in addition to providing for their needs.

So what is the solution in our nation? Let’s encourage job providers, not punish them.  Let’s end the envy and the class warfare rhetoric. Let’s invest in American products, American workers and local home grown services.  Let’s return a climate of opportunity, growth and a celebration of success to our shores.

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

The life and profound leadership of Nelson Mandela has been a huge inspiration to me. His personal discipline, his principled behavior, his refusal to embrace hatred and revenge and his profound leadership have all challenged and motivated my life. Although a US citizen, I was raised in South Africa and was in the country right before the elections that transitioned power from a white apartheid government to Mandela and the ANC. How Mandela navigated the nation peacefully through that transition is still a wonder to the world. South Africa could so easily at that time have gone the way of genocide like Rwanda and Burundi.

Mandela’s ability to bring the extremely polarized peoples of the nation together using the 1995 Rugby World Cup have been immortalized in Clint Eastwood’s masterful movie Invictus. Richard Stengel followed Mandela for more than a year working on a brilliant biography about his life. When he wrote an amazing article in Time Magazine about Mandela, the above quote jumped out at me. I had already chosen the title for my new book “Mentoring to Maturity.” Mandela epitomizes to me the fruit of a life that has come to maturity in so many areas.

In the many blogs that will hopefully follow, I want to examine the lost art of mentoring people to maturity. I want to identify the principles that under gird mentoring and to examine the practical elements or ingredients that will help people to more effectively mentor others. The goal of mentoring is to mold into the lives of people true godly character and to set individuals on a pathway to fulfilling their life’s mission.

We need to develop a generation of people who are full of conviction but not legalistic, bold but not brash, strong but yet gentle. We need multifaceted individuals who are cognizant of their callings, full of vision and purpose, able to articulate their faith and ideas while understanding and respecting the positions and perspectives of others. We need those who can intelligently express their intellect and their emotions and whose lives reflect the genuine fruit of God without hypocrisy or double mindedness.

We will examine many of these areas more fully in future blogs. Please subscribe at the blue button on the top right if you want to be notified of future postings. Please also take advantage of the free YouthBytes DVD download and viewable pieces that teach mentoring using the sport of snowboarding.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces his altitude and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: “Excuse me sir, can you tell me where I am?”

The man below says: “Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.”

“You must work in Technical Support,” says the balloonist.

“I do,” replies the man. “How did you know?”

“Well” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but completely useless.”

The man below says: “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well”, says the man, “you don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re still in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”