Looking for a Mentor?

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Last week, I conferred with a friend who was overwhelmed with life, and in our conversation, I asked about who her personal advisory board is – she seemed clueless on how to find mentors.

As a young christian man, I have always taken many cues from the Bible. One of those is the leadership development style of Paul the apostle and a young man named Titus. The story is in the book of Titus, tucked between the books of 2nd Timothy and Philemon.

There must be older men who are willing to invest time in young men to mentor them. Surprisingly the bible has many examples of this: Abraham/Lot; Jethro/Moses, Eli/Samuel; Nathan/David; Elijah/Elisha; Barnabas/Saul; Paul/Timothy… and women: Naomi/Ruth; Elizabeth/Mary. If you are a young person and you need to develop in your own leadership and personal growth, you need a mentor.

Well, naturally the next question is who makes a great mentor? Titus 1:5-9 provides some hints on the qualities of a great mentor:

  1. In their Personal life, they need to be blameless, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not violent, sober-minded, holy and self controlled – notice that these qualities were primarily set for church leaders, but the pattern is clear, a mentor needs to be someone grounded and clearly sober.
  2. Family Life: They need to be a husband of one wife, with faithful children. – I think this one was quite insightful for me. Its been debated whether a traditional family and/or having children is a sign or mark of a leader. I think not, but I think that one with a family and children has more opportunities to practice other virtues of life, including sacrifice, responsibility, and often has more to live for than just themselves. This should make for a good person to learn from.
  3. Social Life: They need to be hospitable, just, not corrupt and not given to drunkenness. I know that we like to bucket our social and professional lives, and in some cases we like to say “my private life” – but really is it? As a leader, do you really ever have 5 sides to the coin? Or is it that who you are in your private confines must be consistent with your public self. I’d choose consistency in a mentor.
  4. Financial Life: A steward of God, not greedy for money –  I think being a steward of God is a high and lofty standard, that requires a world view where one self is not the center of everything that they do. Does your mentor look like someone driven by the desire to get rich at all costs? Don’t get me wrong, money does make smooth so many ways and roads, heck, the church in Paul’s time needed money, as the church still does today. But this is about the attitude towards money that your mentor has – because it might pass on to you.
  5. Professional Life: not accused of insubordination, a lover of whats good, able to correct others, faithful to their values – This is perhaps a hard one. While our attitude to neighbors and garbage needs to be the same regardless, everyone has a different professional path – the goal here is not to cherry pick your dream job, rather the goal is to pick people who epitomize great careers and success in different fields. Unless proven exceptionally consistent, is is harder for your peers to fill mentor roles because their track record is not long enough. Your mentor needs to be someone who inspires you when you look at their work and achievements.

I hope that this list will help not just my friend Susan, but many other young people to look to sit at the feet of the right crop of leaders, men and women of sound mind, exemplary character and inspiring professional and social lives. As we learn from them, we will set the stage for our children’s children.

Salary Vs Stewardship

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So this morning, on my way to work, i listened to the Kampala City Lord Mayor, as he was hosted on a radio talk show, 93.3 KFm’s D’Mighty Breakfast – the subject of which was related to corruption in the public service, and the president’s recommendation to scrap bail for some cases.

As vocal as ever, Chris Obore suggested that its plainly absurd for a Permanent Secretary to earn about 2.5M UGX per month, and still be expected to manage Authorities in the same ministry, many of which have their directors earning more than 10 times that. That a Principle accountant who earns 1.2M UGX cannot be expected to effectively steward a budget of 1Bn UGX under him, without the expectation that he could dip his hands in the till.

This has got me thinking – not just about the numbers, but the spirit of stewardship. It suggests a number of things: 1, that in this nation, your salary speaks volumes about your authority, and therefore it doesn’t matter what the Lord Mayor thinks of the City’s ED, the fact that she earns twice his pay, therein lies an authority problem. That she can do as she pleases, or that she does not have to report to him at all…

The second problem, is one of stewardship – being able to take care of what has been entrusted to us, regardless of our own circumstances. Am starting to believe that in a nation like ours, you need to earn 30 million UGX to take effective care of a budget of 20mil. I start to wonder, from home, that my children’s nanny controls everything in the fridge, and pantry, as well as bathroom store, usually a monthly bill of more than 200K – and yet she earns way less than that. I do expect her to manage this “estate” wisely, cunningly, as the woman of the house would, if not better.

The I drive to work, where i have over 20mil in investments this month alone. No i do not earn that much, but am expected, and i had better, manage that estate well – because its clear if I cannot administer this small estate, how will I expect to to be made responsible for bigger things?

20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:

I have always believed, that the family is the basic unit of a nation, and how we live in the families is a basic reflection of the rest of the nation – we cannot live better or more professionally at work, than we live at home. If we waste salt, and drink excessive sugar, scream at the maid, and mistreat the cats, the sum of everything we do eventually grows and rises into the community, and when we become leaders, we are no different!

We accuse the maid of waste, when infact we over look our own failures to supervise and direct – something the Lord Mayor insists applies to the embattled Office of the Prime Minister Permanent Secretary. We suggest to punish at the slightest accusation (read: selective bail), when infact we overlook our own downtrodden moral authority to point the finger.

Over to you – should your salary determine the level, and quality of stewardship of the resources that have been entrusted to you? Should your salary determine your authority?