I was thinking the other day about the kinds of relationships growing leaders should have in their lives. I think a good leader should make sure they’re making time in their lives for the right kinds of people.
No matter who you are or what you do, if you want to be a great leader, I believe you should have in your life…
Someone who is AHEAD OF YOU.
Someone who is WITH YOU.
Someone who is BEHIND YOU.
Someone who is CHALLENGING YOU.
I had to laugh when I realized that all of those relationships in my life happen to be with someone named Andy.
AHEAD OF ME
Let’s start with the easy one: someone who is ahead of me. If you know I work at North Point, you may have already guessed who this Andy is.
Ahead-of-Me-Andy runs a huge organization. He’s more than 10 years older than me, has been married more than 10 years longer than I have, and his kids are at least 10 years ahead of mine. He’s a great person for me to look to as someone ahead of me on the journey.
But, just a thought: my Ahead-of-Me-Andy should probably not be your Ahead-of-Me-Person. I get to see this Andy all the time. I get to talk to his wife and kids. I get to see him make decisions and I even get to help him make decisions on occasion. The people we choose to follow as the people ahead of us on our journeys should be people we actually get to see live, lead, and grow. There are a lot of really great pastors and leaders out there. But no matter how closely we “follow” those people on their blogs or on social media, unless we know them personally, we’re only seeing their highlight reels. For your Ahead-of-Me-Person, find someone you get to rub shoulders with in everyday life.
Getting to walk with Ahead-of-Me-Andy makes me a better man. Having that person in your life will do the same for you.
The Andy that is right there with me is a great guy, too. With-Me-Andy has a couple of kids and does what I do. We get to share in each other’s struggles and victories. We help each other work through challenges. We get along most of the time, but often have to have some pretty direct conversations. I think I make With-Me-Andy a better man. I know he makes me better a better man.
(Now you might be wondering: How can I find someone like that? Someone who does what I do? Someone I can learn from and with? Well, here’s a secret: that’s one of the things that we are working on with Uthmin! We’re going to get you connected. But… more on that some other time.)
The Andy that is right behind me is more than 10 years behind me. Behind-Me-Andy just got married and has just recently started his new job. Watching him grow and offering him my own experiences with struggles and victories to him is very rewarding. I hope that it is helpful to him. I sometimes wonder if I’m just a crazy old man shouting advice. I don’t think so, but I guess that’s a possibility. Either way, I know it is helpful to me to share my life with him. Behind-Me-Andy makes me a better man, and I hope I’m doing the same for him.
The last Andy is the newest Andy in my life. Challenging-Me-Andy is my agnostic (with atheistic tendencies) neighbor who, basically, asked if he could ask me some questions about science and faith a couple of years ago. For two years I must admit I avoided these conversations with Andy. To be honest, I think I was scared. But this year, I decided to engage Andy. I bought him a book (Language of God, by Francis Collins), I walked up the street, and I knocked on his door. The conversation started out with a bang and hasn’t slowed down since. He’s a great guy with a great mind and he’s putting my faith to the test. I hope I’m doing something for him, thought I’m not quite sure what that is yet. I hope my faith becomes his faith one day. But for now, the almost daily emails and back porch conversations continue. I’m not sure if he feels like I am helping him at all… but I know Challenging-Me-Andy makes me a better man.