Friday, October 9, 2009

Men in Black on Mentoring

Leaders who start movements mentor those with potential and position them to take their place.
I love the movie Men in Black, namely the first one. You have this young, energetic man that they bring in for an interview to be on the Men in Black team. He is picked because he is sharp, can find creative ways to solve problems and gets the job done.

During one of their first elevator rides, Will Smith looks at Tommy Lee Jones and says, "Hey, I know I am young, but I don't want to be called 'sport,' 'kid,' 'junior,' or 'slick.'" Tommy Lee Jones looks back and says, "Alright Slick, have it your way."

As a young leader (30 now) and a lead pastor, I am often times talked down to by leaders that are older than me. I was told this week that I have a lot of great ideas, but have never worked them out in ministry. I did not stop to tell the guy that everything I am doing, I learned by doing it! It can be very frustrating when you have a vision and know you can lead then you are talked down to and told that you are too young to lead (in so many words).

Men in Black is a great story of mentoring. Will Smith is trained and developed. Tommy Lee Jones knows that Will can and will out do everything he has done. He lets Will make mistakes. He gives opportunities and experiences. The greatest part is at the end when Will takes over.

Here are some questions for you....
1) Who is actively mentoring you now? Do they speak to your potential or do they see age/limitations?
2) If you are mentoring someone, do you speak their potential? Do you treat them as "sport," "slick," or "junior?" I once gave my new book to some denominational leaders. They responded by saying, "cool dude." They never read it. I am no longer with their conference.
3) Are you positioning the next generation to move into their rightful place?

We need to know this...
The next great leaders of the Church are in elementary, middle school or high school. You may have experience, but experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. Being married for 30 years or pastoring for 30 years means nothing. Are you better or still making the same mistakes? Don't judge them based on their experience. Learning things the wrong way can be a bad teacher.

The youth music you hate. The way they dress. They way they talk. Their views toward spirituality and your traditions will be leading the church of tomorrow. Look at the most innovative and fastest growing churches in America. They look a lot youth ministries from 5-10 years ago.

You can talk down to sport, junior or slick, but they will be leading your denomination, organization and church in the years to come.


  1. This has been a pet peave of mine. I see so many younger leaders looked down upon because of age. I recently had a friend who wanted to pastor a church. He has all the degrees, associate experience and great character. He was told that he did not have the experience. He was not allowed to even try out. It is sad. So, as I get older, I want to make sure that I am helping position the next generation in a place of impact.