[Editor’s Note: On May 4, 2019, at the Pinnacle Forum National Conference, Dwight was honored with our “Hezekiah Award,” given at each National Conference to a Partner who exhibits the spirit of true servant-leadership.]
This sums up the humble way in which Dwight Olson lives a life of genuine servant-leadership. What’s more, so much of how he has served and led has been behind the scenes: no trumpets, no fanfare, no audience applause. Just making an enormous, positive impact in the lives of others, before what Os Guinness calls “the audience of One.”
Earlier this year, Dwight and his wife Trudy traveled to Serbia for a very special occasion. Six years ago, while at the Hilton in Anchorage, Alaska, they met a young woman from Serbia who was a server at the hotel. Dwight got to know her and offered to mentor her, and she accepted.
In the six years since, Dwight has spent many hours providing mentorship to this young woman. Dwight and Trudy have had an opportunity to travel with Mima. Dwight saw so much promise in her that he and Trudy paid for this young lady to earn her MBA.
And this was why they traveled to Serbia — to witness her graduation.
There are other stories of Dwight’s mentorship of young people, like the Haitian student Dwight took under his wing, paying for his tuition so he could go back and finish college (after he had been expelled).
“I feel a calling to influence young people,” he says. “And I find that when I make myself available, God directs me to young people who not only will benefit from a mentoring relationship, but who desire such a relationship.”
Dwight frequently offers these young people an opportunity to travel with him and Trudy, so they can experience other parts of the world as he mentors them. And when asked how he feels about these many, many opportunities he has had to mentor young people, in typical humble fashion he responds, “It’s been a real blessing – for me.”
He tells an endearing story of how he made himself “available” while in a New Orleans hospital. After undergoing an emergency surgical procedure, he contracted a serious infection, which forced him to spend several days in the hospital. During this time he developed a friendship with his surgeon – who asked him to mentor her!
But Dwight didn’t always recognize this calling to mentor.
“I have Pinnacle Forum to thank for that,” he says. “I recall a friend of mine, Ken Willig, invited me to join Pinnacle Forum, and I initially said no. Well, God had different plans for me, and six months later I joined the Seattle chapter of Pinnacle Forum.”
Yes, God did indeed have different plans for Dwight. A few years later he was invited by Ralph Palmen, who at that time was the President of Pinnacle Forum, to join the Pinnacle Forum Board of Directors. And then, he was asked to be the President of the Board. Since then, he has served as the Chaplain for the Board, a position he has held to this day.
So much for saying “no”!
“It was through my involvement in Pinnacle Forum that I discovered God’s calling for me to mentor. Through Pinnacle Forum, I’ve had the opportunity to establish meaningful relationships with other Christian business leaders, have been encouraged to seek a deeper relationship with God, gaining deeper insights from the Bible. As a result, I have discovered that God was saying to me to be available to mentor and that He would bring the right people to me.”
Dwight has experienced a great deal of success in the business and financial world, but, as is the case with most leaders, he has experienced many of the struggles that life deals us. Through this success and struggles Dwight finds himself in the place where God can use him to influence the trajectories of the lives of others.
Dwight also has a challenge for the rest of us.
“Be a mentor,” he asserts. Dwight maintains that the kinds of leaders who are involved in Pinnacle Forum have a great deal to give to younger people who are hungry to be mentored by mature, wise, Christian leaders.
“I know there are those who feel that they are not up to the task,” he says. “I remind them that God is sufficient, that He has taken you through experiences in your life so that you can pass on the lessons you’ve learned. Pray for God to bring the right people along, and then be prepared for what happens, because He will!”
“Sometimes we make things too complicated. How do you begin mentoring someone? Just love them. Build a relationship with them. God will prepare you for that assignment. Just make yourself available.”