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Alex Haley has been credited with saying, “Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” I have heard a dozen variations of the quote as it relates to leadership. However, all of them infer the same thing…all potential leaders need help to become leaders.

Most people may be presented with incredible opportunities to prove themselves, but ultimately they are placed on the fence post of leadership. I am not saying it does not require work to become a leader…but, seriously, when was the last time you saw a turtle jump?

Potentially there is something equally as important as the “ritual of the fence post.” Having to dodge the traffic while crossing the road on the way to the fence post is also a part of the turtle’s development, or should I say survival? As mentors and diciplers we can play a vital role in both the placement of leaders and teaching the fine art of “dodging traffic.”

We have the opportunity to teach them:

  • How to lead from the hardships that naturally come with dodging traffic and the potholes of life.
  • How to wrestle with concepts and theories, testing them to either prove they are good ideas or God
  • How to forge determination and commitment for life and ministry so that when they face difficult times they do not quit!

As mentors, we have to guard against our impulse to “move the turtle” out of traffic. We want to protect the person we are mentoring from pain, pressure or disappointment but these decisions have to be made with wisdom.   Many a young leader has fallen too soon because they were enabled instead of properly mentored through hardships.

As experienced leaders who have dodged traffic on the way to our fence post, let’s commit to helping other aspiring leaders. Hopefully our experience has made us more sensitive, causing us to keep an eye out for those coming behind us who are dodging some of the same traffic and potholes of life we faced.

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