It’s one of the great proverbs of the Bible, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

It describes the need to have people in our lives who make us better, who encourage us, mentor us and challenge our perspectives.  The need to have people who teach us, lead us and positively influence us.

As I pondered this principle this week a few thoughts came to mind:

Iron can’t sharpen iron if there’s no contact – People are sometimes messy, flawed, imperfect, insensitive and painful to be around.  The temptation is to keep others at a distance, protecting ourselves from others and not allowing them to see the real us.

One of the paradoxes of life is that we still need others to develop and grow, however frustrating that can be sometimes.  We need people who know us and keep us accountable.  We need to be able to respectfully disagree and have our opinions challenged.  For iron to be sharpened requires direct contact that occasionally turns into friction.  Don’t be afraid of it, understand that this is required to continue to grow.

Not everyone is made of iron – There are some people in your life who are ill-equipped to sharpen you.  They have little to offer that will assist you in your walk.  Perhaps they’re negative, unwilling to learn new things or perhaps they have a lot of knowledge, but keep it all to themselves.  The principle of iron sharpening iron isn’t just that you are around people, but that you are around people who can sharpen you, effectively equipping you for life.

This isn’t just about you – When iron sharpens iron, it’s not just one piece that being developed and changed, both are.  Don’t just look for people who can help you in your development, look for people whom you can help.

Don’t just look for a mentor, look to be a mentor.

Be encouraged and encourage others.  Be coached and coach others.

I know that I still haven’t reached my full potential and my guess is that you haven’t either.

Iron sharpens iron and we all need people in our lives who can assist us in our walk.

As such, I have two questions today:

Who is in your life who is sharpening you, who makes you better and assists in your development?

Who are you sharpening, making them better, assisting them in their development?

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