The Vertical Relationship Between The Q And His Blades
A man is like the blade on a knife. Both were made to cut but neither can be Effective until properly honed.
A knife is sharpened by a whetstone. Water is used to lubricate the whetstone prior to sharpening, but that is not where the “whet” part comes from. To whet actually means to sharpen, like with a man’s appetite and his curiosity. In other words, to whet a blade or a man is to put an edge on it, leaving it/him sharp, dynamic and ready to cut. In contrast, the unsharpened man is dull and lethargic, ineffective and ill-prepared for the challenges he will face in his life.
Just as a man’s appetite for pure food must be whetted, so must his appetite for the heavy responsibility that comes with Leadership. The Q acts as the Stone to the younger man’s Blade, providing the hard surface against which he becomes sharper and whetting his appetite for greater responsibility.
Because the desire of an older man to pass on what he has learned to a younger man is natural, the vertical relationship between Stone and Blade has existed since men first saw the advantage of gathering together into Communities. But like all relationships, it takes skill and effort for the Whetstone to work. To obtain that skill, a Q does not wait until he is retired to begin practicing it. He is about the business of Sharpening younger men even while he himself is being Sharpened.
Sharpening does not happen by accident. It must be deliberate, within a vertical relationship between two men who set out to see it happen. It works best between men who are not at the same point of their journey. For a Blade to be Sharpened properly, the Stone must be the harder of the two, at least for a season.
Through the Whetstone, the Blade receives something he lacked before, a honed edge to his life that he must possess to be Effective and have IMPACT on his Community. In receiving that gift, he is charged with the duty to pass on what he has learned to other men.
Once Sharpened, the Blade becomes a Stone for other men. And so on—until the work here is done.