It happen more often then wished for, less seldom then it should. It is the dream of most disciples and the nightmare of most mentors.
Mentors are mentors because they have ran longer, ran faster and have more experience. However, when the “kid” starts to give you a run for the money, pushing you further and even overtake you, how do you start to justify your mentor label? Perhaps it is just a gut instinct to hold back your all when you mentor someone. Just like the old Chinese fable about how the cat purposely missed out teaching the tiger the skill of climbing trees, giving the cat a lifeline when the tiger tried to kill its master; perhaps we are just afraid of getting “killed” by our disciple. (Not impossible. After all, loyalty no longer counts for much in this era and even Steve Jobs got fired from the company he founded.)
The situation seems bleak for mentors, in fact it probably is. When your disciple overtakes and outperforms you, the situation is as stated – He is better then you. So what are mentors to do? I say we grow up. The above sort of thinking is immature and childish.
In a cross-country team event, the way to win is to ensure each of your team members run at his maximum pace. The team’s result is not solely dependent on the fastest runner of the team, but the collective results of all of the runners in your team. The team with the fastest group of runner wins and this is not necessarily the team with the fastest runner.
As mentors, we coach others to run at their fullest potential. We are placed in the position of a mentor because we are fast, not because we are the fastest. We can coach the team to victory, or stunt their growth so that we remain the fastest.
The organization may no longer need us; we are dispensable now that there is an equal with more potential. This is bad for us, but I urge you to look at the bigger picture. The organization can now achieve more, run further and even faster. The only concern is whether if you want team glory or individual glory.
A true leader is only as successful as his successor.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
– Jesus, in John 14:12 (NIV)