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The Ideal Mentor Always...
By: James Smith
1. Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
One man who has been one of my mentors for almost 18 years especially stands out because of his honesty with me. Early in my ministry and marriage, he pulled me aside and explained to me that I was not very respectful to my wife in public. He explained that the ladies of the church would not honor me as a minister for this reason. At the time I was offended that he would tell me this as I thought I was very good to my wife. However, years later, I see where he was coming from. I’m grateful that he was bold enough and honest enough to talk to me about a sensitive subject. Honoring my wife and publicly showing her affection has not only given me respect among the other ladies of the church, but has also been a blessing to our marriage.
2. Shows a good example for you to follow.
The old cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” Does not work in mentoring. A lifelong mentor should be someone who is a model of who you want to become. Everyone is a little bit like the people who have parented them. Part of a mentor’s role is to let the protégé watch them closely in the work that they do. One of my mentors would often times invite me to sit in on important meetings that I had no experience in. I would never say a word unless asked my input. I understood that I was there to observe and to learn. I watched my mentor closely to see how he handled fragile situations that I had no experience in. I would often ask myself how I would handle these often sensitive meetings, but would then watch my mentor expertly handle delicate subjects with Godly wisdom.
3. Sees you as family.
Mentoring someone is a life long commitment. Your best mentors are not people who are only a part of your life for a short amount of time. A mentor sees you as a son or daughter in the Gospel. Paul who mentored Timothy referred to him as his son. Anything less than a family level commitment may prove to be a surface only relationship between mentor and protégé. Often times, subjects discussed in a mentoring relationship are sensitive and personal. A protégé needs to know that he is going to someone who is a father figure who only has the protégé’s best interest in mind.
4. Shows himself/herself to be open and transparent with you.
A good mentor is someone who is not afraid to talk to those they mentor about their failures as well as their successes. My father would often say to me, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I have made.” This is a good reason for mentors to be open with their protégés. You may save that person a tremendous amount of pain and numerous mistakes by revealing to them the mistakes you yourself have made along the way.
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As leaders and pastors, many of us are involved in growth programs in our various ministries. Whether you pastor a church or lead a small group, it is critically important to have a plan of action for the growth of your ministry. However, it is a serious error to place the program above the person. You, as the person, must take priority over the program. Your program will only be as successful as you are. Your program will only be as successful as your relationship with Christ. If you make personal growth your priority, church growth will happen out of the excess of what is happening in your own life. Your life will be the example to the people you lead. You will be a living testimony. You will have a story to tell.
It is so much easier to lead people if there is a surplus of energy, ideas and anointing in your own life. Take the time to make personal growth a priority. A Plan of action for personal growth is just as important as a plan of action for church growth.
Three must do's for Personal Growth:
1. Get in God's Presence.
When the Old Testament priest went beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies he was literally stepping into the presence of God. It was there that God communed with him and spoke to him everything he needed to hear.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is a good thing to talk to God every day, but it sure is a lot better when God talks back to me. That is what happens every time I get in His presence. God speaks to me. God communes with me. God tells me everything I need to hear. I must have the voice of God in my life. If I have God's voice in my life, people hear God's voice from me.
In God's presence we grow our person. The presence of God is where we find God's will, God's anointing and God's voice. If you have those three things in your life, people will follow you. Make the time to get in God's presence every day.
2. Get a life.
Every person in ministry needs a life outside of church. We need to get outside of the walls of the church. There are a couple of reasons for this; First of all, you can't personally win anybody to Christ if you have no life outside of church.
Jesus was very good at building relationships with unbelievers;
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The reason Jesus built relationships with publicans and sinners was because they needed Him. The people outside of our walls need us more than the people inside our walls. We need to build relationships with the unsaved in our communities. This is how we win the lost.
Secondly, your life needs to be interesting. The reason our messages or ministries lack impact is because they are not interesting and the reason they are not interesting is because we are not interesting. Take the time to get a life outside of church. Do something different. Get a new hobby. Join a softball league. Go build an orphanage in Africa. Start a soup kitchen for the homeless. Get a life.[ read more...]
Most people have problems with finances, but they just don’t know why.
According to the latest surveys, over one-half of all families in America are presently experiencing financial difficulties. And the real truth is many do not seem to know why they are having these difficulties. If these type problems are so common, then it would be important to understand the reasons they exist.
The following is a listing of some reasons of financial difficulties. This listing can be a means of educating oneself in these most critical areas.
- Failure to follow scriptural principles. The Bible is full of guidelines regarding financial principles. In fact, one half of all parables and one out of six verses in the New Testament deal with stewardship. Get the Bible and start an in-depth study of the guidelines and principles in the Word of God.
- Failure to identify priorities. A person and family must identify their priorities if they are ever going to be successful in their financial life.
- Failure to discipline. This horrible word causes people more problems than anything else in the world. Discipline must be exercised in every phase of a person’s life and in the world of finances it is critical.
- Failure to establish goals. A person who has no goal is a person without direction. A person without direction is going nowhere. A person must establish the financial goal for themselves if they ever want to arrive at a successful financial position in life.
- Failure to control spending. A written control is necessary to control impulsive spending. Limits must be established and kept.
- Failure to establish a budget. A budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is a clear guideline of where your money comes from and where it goes. Do not negate the importance of a written budget…it is vital to anyone’s financial success.
What is failure? Is it permanent? Is there a second chance? Complete the sentence by circling the right phrase “a person is a failure when…”
- He makes a mistake;
- He quits;
- Someone thinks he is.
Review - Failure should be a teacher, not an undertaker. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street. A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.
Repress - Perhaps your own personal problems and hang-ups caused the failure. If so, begin to work immediately on self-discipline. If you were the problem, put yourself under control. Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness throughout his entire life. Yet the man who had destroyed Napoleon’s fleet did not let illness interfere with his career.[ read more...]
Causing growth in a church and leading God’s people is a challenge. Looking through the scripture one quickly notices that no leader of God’s people found his role easy.
It often seems that our job as ministers is more reactive than proactive. It’s important to understand that while there will always be a needed degree of reactive management, there also needs to be a healthy measure of proactive leadership.
One doesn’t need to pastor long before he/she finds themselves becoming bogged down with the daily routine of managing a congregation. Your own list of duties preformed regularly would be very comparable to many other Pastors and church leaders. As I communicate more and more with church leaders around the globe, I am surprised to find that even though regions and languages may differ, there are often, very similar “People Problems” that Pastors have to deal with.
Managers organize. They report on what is. Their role is to assign and control people. Leaders on the other hand cast vision. They offer what could be. Their role is to align and motivate people. Notice the difference between these two leadership styles. One is managing what already exists and the other is moving the church forward into new growth and greater increase.
Nearly all pastors and church leaders perform both management and leadership roles. An imbalanced church is often one whose Pastor and leadership team has succumbed to one role or the other. It is the Pastor who has lost his zeal for growth so he simply manages what is already happening. Or it is the Pastor who constantly promotes growth and new programs, but does not provide constant management for the growth that happens.
Have I lost you? Are you already saying, “Now wait a minute. I can’t do it all!” You are right. You can’t. As much as you are talented, gifted, anointed and blessed, you are not Solomon. Moses couldn’t do it all and neither can you. In fact, the church leader that attempts to do all the management themselves will be overridden with the load of caring for God’s people.
This is why our Lord brings us other people into the church. Many Pastors overlook the people resources in their congregation. Since they lack the ability to trust others to a task, many Pastors fail to allow the talents of their congregation to become invested.
Moses had his captains of fifties and thousands. You too have been given certain individuals who can come beside your ministry to assist you in maintaining the growth from the vision you cast.
Do you find yourself routinely doing the job of the church janitor? Did you fix or repair something around the church lately? Are you the office manager? Are you the one who adds ink to the printer? Are you the only one visiting and praying for the sick? Who does the computing and tallying of numbers to record progress?[ read more...]
Here is a question every leader of people asks himself/herself at one time or another.
When Jesus looked out over the masses who followed him, I wonder if He asked himself this same question. As He counted, in His mind, the healings and considered all who he helped, I wonder if he pondered how many would come after him.
Of course they would follow him to the next miracle. They would follow Him to the next free dinner. They would be there to hear him preach again, but would they follow him all the way to the cross.
People are fickle. Have you noticed this? It doesn't take much to turn their heads. You can spend all your energy helping them and teaching them, but when something/someone flashier comes along, off they go
It's no wonder we are likened to sheep in the scriptures. Sheep are wanderers. If the shepherd is not watchful, his sheep will simply wander off. They don't mean to leave the shepherd really. They just found a patch of grass that is greener and so off they go.
I look at the ministry of Jesus and I am dumfounded at the throngs of people he could gather. So many on the sea shore that he would have to launch out on a boat to talk to them. Thousands were there the day he multiplied the little boys lunch. They pressed against him. They cried out to him from the edges of the crowds. They climbed into trees to see him. They tore the roof off of houses to get to where He was at. Yet I believe he had one question in His mind every time he saw them press in. "How many will follow?"
Each time you get in front of the group you minister to, do you ask yourself this question? How many will follow me? How many will live the way I teach? How many will stay strong to the faith? How many will be saved?[ read more...]
It began with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter two, but was continued and maintained, in part at least, by the giving and sacrifice of the first century church!
The bible says that they gave their all and laid it at the Apostles feet. They sold houses and land, possessions and goods, and parted them to those who had need of them.
Were these new, born again, Christians giving of their all, simply out of faith, or was there some precedent that had been set by the words and actions of the Jesus and His disciples?
Obviously, these Christians did not yet have the New Testament writings to refer to...but they were there in person when Jesus taught, instructed, and acted as their example in all things.[ read more...]
Leadership seems to be the buzzword of our times. Bookstores now have multiple rows upon rows of books concerning this particular subject. Some of the content is very good and can help a person to hone their management skills and work toward becoming self-disciplined in a manner that will prove good for the organization that they are serving. I personally have benefited from some of the secular leadership books that I have read over the years. Despite all of these necessary and good resources only a small, in fact, microscopic amount of these books address spiritual issues in the life of the leader.
There aren’t any spiritual leadership concepts given in the books that Jim Collins has written. Patrick Lencioni does not address the spiritual side of a man who wants to build a Fortune 500 company. Peter Drucker’s works have almost elevated him posthumously to an exalted messiah among the leadership gurus of the last century. If we are not careful, there can be a tendency to think that we can build a church the same way that Steve Jobs made Apple successful. Once a spiritual leader buys into that particular idea that he can build a spiritual church with the same techniques that a profit-driven company is built, he deceives himself and he will create spiritual mayhem with the sheep he is meant to feed.
Spiritually abusive leaders are often very ambitious and driven toward success. It is important to understand the motives that drive men in spiritual leadership because our motives say much about our true intentions. Gary McIntosh in his book, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, identifies five types of leadership styles that lead toward tendencies to be spiritually abusive. The compulsive leader is characterized by being status conscious, looking for reassurance and approval from those in authority. He will have a tendency to try to control activities and keep order at all times doing this by being an extreme workaholic. They can be excessively moralistic, conscientious, and judgmental. He may have an angry and rebellious attitude but will repress his true feelings and hold in the anger and resentment. When these dark emotions turn on the church, the atmosphere immediately turns into one of control and extreme authoritarianism.
There are certain traits that usually show up in the preaching style of a compulsive leader. He will frequently be a gifted and charismatic speaker but has the tendency to minimize any impact of the Scriptures unless they are going to serve his own agenda. He will also be the hero of all of his stories and listeners will be “amazed” at his feats in personal outreach/evangelism, prayer schedule, and devotion to the Scriptures. He may even say something like this; “I am God’s appointed authority in your life. If you oppose me you’re opposing God.” He will almost have the capacity to turn himself into a rock star for a lack of a better description. He leads people to follow him instead of the Lord.
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One of the challenges all pastors face is leading those who have the same vision you have but don't have the same idea's about accomplishing that vision. I call these people 'thinkers'. Thinkers are good and bad. Every pastor loves to have a group of leaders that agree with everything he says. But there comes a point when that starts working against the pastor.
It is not always healthy to have a ministry team full of 'yes-men.' Most "yes-men" cannot think for themselves. What good are leaders who cannot work situations out? They need instruction for just about everything they do. Some even like to be micro-managed. Pastors cannot afford to be micro-managers, it steals ones time and produces people who cannot make it on their own.
As a builder of homes I have worked with hundreds of different carpenters from around the country. While working with these different tradesmen there were a few things I learned very quickly about people. Some of these carpenters would come to me and ask me how I liked things done. They wanted to be sure they built the house the way I wanted it to be built. At first I really appreciated this, but soon I realized that most of my time was taken up showing them my method when their method would have worked just as well.
Other carpenters would jump right in and do their own thing. This frustrated me even more because they didn't even have the courtesy to ask for my plan or opinion. But then there were those very few carpenters who would ask a few questions about the blueprint, get dialed in on my plan of attack, and then proceed to carry out that plan. If they ran into a problem, they could "think" it out for themselves. They didn't have to come to me about every little thing, but if something major came up they wouldn't hesitate to consult me. Sometimes they even offered suggestions that increased the productivity of my crew. In twenty plus years of building homes, I found only a handful of carpenters with these qualities. These were valuable men. These were the men who helped me achieve my goals. These were the carpenters that made my company money.
We need leaders like this in our churches. We need men and women who can work through problems and think things through on their own. It is important as a leader that you develop leaders who can think. It is also important that you are confident enough to lead leaders who may have a better idea or plan than you have. I am not talking about those who disagree with everything you have to say. I am talking about those who are dialed in to your vision, but may have better ideas than you about how to accomplish that vision.
In the Old Testament, the Kings surrounded themselves with people who were dialed into their mission. There are many accounts where this team of leaders did not agree with their King. They had different ideas of how to accomplish the mission. They were not "yes-men". What kind of value would they have to the King if they agreed with everything the King asked? The king though, would have to be humble and confident enough in himself to act on their advice. Their advice was oftentimes critical to the success or failure of that nation.[ read more...]
To avoid burnout one needs to identify ways to refuel the energy expended in their challenging role of bi-vocational ministry. Exercise, proper diet, and adequate rest cannot be over-emphasized for long-term health, stamina, and creativity.
One analogy is that of an automobile over the course of a year. It order to function without failure it needs to visit the occasional gas station, be serviced for lubrication and filter replacements, undergo routine preventive maintenance, be cleaned, have inspections and documentation kept current, and so forth. Just as these things are essential to problem-free automobile service, similar things are essential to problem-free bi-vocational ministry. A few tips include:
- Block out multiple windows of time for quality family time each week.
- Maintain spontaneity and the capacity to have fun.
- Schedule a vacation or time away from church and work at the same time.
- Leave work at the office. When you come home bring “you” with you.
- Discover ways to expend excess energy, tension, and anxiety.