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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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A topical message is a sermon when a passage of scripture is used to support a single topic. You should be able to state what the topic is in a single sentence. This topic is then communicated to the hearers through the use of several different scriptures that all address the truth of this topic.
There are many pros and cons to topical preaching. Many Bible scholars feel that expository preaching is the only way to preach. They point out that you must preach verse by verse through the text in order to keep the story in its context. This is correct and very true, but a good topical sermon can also be kept in context if prepared properly.
When you look at the New Testament examples, both Peter and Paul preached on topics and used scripture to support their points. They did this very well in the epistles. The most famous sermon in the entire Bible is a topical sermon. The Sermon on the Mount is considered by most Bible scholars to be the greatest sermon that Jesus ever preached. The beatitudes are in this sermon, the Lord's prayer is in this sermon, and The Golden Rule is in this sermon. Jesus spoke on topics and used Old Testament scripture to supports His teachings. He did not preach verse by verse through entire chapters or books. Even the Old Testament prophets were very topical in their messages. If we are using the Bible as our example on how to live, we should also use it as our example in how we preach.[ read more...]
There are times that I really get wrapped up with being important. I mean those times when I am so into the importance thing that the whole world finds it’s orbit around me. I know that you may find that hard to believe, that “importance” could have such a dizzying effect on me but it does.
In fact some time ago, I found myself being very important. Our church was hosting a preaching workshop. Rick Wyser was doing his very good seminar “The Six Should-Be’s of Preaching” and I was feeling particularly important. We had plotted and planned and had all sorts of free books, gadgets, computer programs and all sorts of other things to give out to the participants. Somewhere around fifty ministers came and we were having a tremendous time. Nothing motivates me like talking about becoming a better preacher, so I was definitely enjoying the element.[ read more...]
In his book How To Increase Giving In Your Church, George Barna gives several key principles for effective stewardship. Our challenge is to create an environment and facilitate a mind-set in which people want to donate money to the church for the right reasons. The following are some guidelines toward achieving that outcome.
Part 1 was offered in last weeks newsletter.
8. Dream big, pray big, ask big, minister big.
- No dream, no vision, no need, no ministry transcends the capacity of our Go. Sometimes we reflect our lack of faith in our unwillingness to let Him determine the vision, and in our refusal to truly believe He can accomplish incredible things through us.
9. Ministry donors do not just give; they invest.
- Set your sights high. Challenge people to do their homework, to evaluate all the options they have for stewardship and to behave as wise investors of funds. Once you investors have done their part, live up to your part of the bargain: Give them an unbeatable return on the investment.
10. Stewardship is a lifestyle, not an event.
- You may choose to sponsor fund-raising events, but always remind your people that stewardship is a way of living. As in dimension of our lives, if we take God's promises and admonitions seriously and develop habits that reflect those promises and admonitions, we will soon be able to transfer our focus from wondering if He will bless us for our faithfulness to amazement at how He blesses us.
11. Listen carefully, respond strategically, thank people sincerely.
- Good leaders listen to the people; they respond so that they hear in strategic ways, and when the people live up to the expectations placed upon them, sincere appreciation is one of the rewards and ongoing motivations for their continued involvement. Just as people give for the benefit of other people, so they also give in response to those who have demonstrated sufficient interest and concern about the donor to spark such generosity. The Holy Spirit gets the credit for inspiring people to give; and you must allow the Holy Spirit to direct your steps, too, as you interact with your donors.
How soon do you begin training people in leadership positions. Well, let me ask you – how long do you wait to help a baby walk? Until they learn to do it on their own? No, early in their development, you take them by the hands, lift them up, steady them and one step at a time you help them learn balance, endurance and strength. If you wait until a person is already involved in leadership to use them, they may have gotten their leadership skills from a source such as the corporate world where the same values are not shared in the church. Start working with people early. Trust them. Some will fail and embarrass you. Others will succeed and astound you.
How soon do you use them in leadership positions? Generally before you feel they are 100% ready. There is always a need for leadership help in the church. You will find that as soon as you begin raising up a person in the church for a position, God will begin raising up a position in the church for a person. The reason many churches do not have certain ministries in their churches is not because the needs are not there for those ministries, it is because there are not people ready to lead those ministries.
How soon do you move someone out of a ministry? As soon as you have another ministry to advance that person to and someone to take their place. Never leave someone in a position for years if that person has the ability to excel into another office or ministry in the church.[ read more...]
(Mat 20:20 KJV) Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
This woman’s only desire was that her two sons would receive a place of position.
Jesus turns to the young men and asks, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” People do not know the responsibility that comes with leadership. They have no idea the sleepless nights that comes with ministry.
Leadership within the church is viewed in some romantic sense. The fact of the matter is many are people worshipers. They fail to realize that this is God’s kingdom. The Scriptures tell us that he is a jealous God and He will not share his glory with anyone.
Some will do anything for position and the prestige that appears to come with it.
They take short cuts.
They will try to buy their way into a position.
They will use their influence to bully their way into a position.
They will claim they have the right to a position due to duration of their service.
They will use their relationship or friendship with someone else already in position.
They want the title of an office without the work or obligation that comes with it. They are unqualified to do the job, or fill the office, but because they have been around longer than anyone else, they feel they deserve it. Even if their qualifications or lack of qualifications actually disqualifies them for the position.[ read more...]
Some leadership styles are role-specific, but several traits of leadership styles seem to work in all congregations.
Twelve Traits For Maximum Effect:
1. Spiritual consciousness. In the Middle Ages, being knighted gave someone a special relationship with the king. Likewise, the words and behavior of Christian leaders point people toward God.
2. Enthusiasm. Meaningful ideas delivered in a dull, listless manner can seem irrelevant. The same ideas communicated with enthusiasm can light the fire of commitment that leads to positive change.
3. Joyful attitude. Joyfulness and a sense of humor help people relax and enjoy their work. They also send the signal that having fun while working together is as important as the work itself.
4. Spiritual optimism. People who dispense the quality of hope in their conversation are appreciated like rain after a drought. They attract allegiance to themselves and their goals.
5. High energy level. Effective leaders can maintain a fast pace and juggle several demands simultaneously. As Lewis Carroll says in Alice in Wonderland, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast.”
6. Self- discipline. Some people accomplish two to six times as much as coworkers during a 40-hour week. Such productivity comes from a high-energy level charged by motivation and self-discipline.
7. Positive appearance. Neat apparel and shiny shoes do not bring people into the kingdom of God. But, if the package is shabby, people may not bother to examine its contents.[ read more...]
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Prov 18:19
Bob stopped me a while back to thank me. A trustee and board member in his church, he explained that he and his wife were greatly offended by a situation and people in the church. He told how one Sunday without knowing their situation, I encouraged them. I told them that “they were very important to the work of God there” and a “wonderful example to me”. I didn’t know they had already decided this was their last service in that church. He told me that had it not been for my encouraging them that day, they never would have gone back.
I wonder how many Bob’s leave the church without anybody noticing.
It is often said, “If we could just win back those who have already left, that would be a great revival. My question is, “how did we ever let them get away in the first place”?
In my years of pastoring and ministry, I’ve found that people usually leave the church because they were never truly assimilated into the family of God to begin with. Once a person is established into the church and have formed nurturing relationships, it’s less likely they would become offended and leave.
We think that we have to “get them into the choir right away” or “find them a position or job in the church” to keep new converts. This may help that person feel more attached, but it will never assimilate them into the church.
Why do people exit the church? Many times, a person leaves because they were never provided the proper relationships within the church.[ read more...]
I love adventure. I like eating at restaurants that I’ve never eaten at before. I like going places I’ve never been before. I will often take a wrong road intentionally just to see what is there that I’ve been missing. I want to see countries, I’ve never seen before. I want to enjoy what is just ahead.
I want to enjoy some things in the spirit realm too. I look into the Bible and I see the Christians in the New Testament having an all night prayer meeting for Peter. The miracle to me was not Peter getting loosed from prison. The miracle to me was a body of believers putting their agendas, and personal motives aside long enough to agree that something had to be done about Peter’s condition.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states "Good to Great companies do not focus on what to do to become great; they focus equally on what not to do and what to stop doing." We are too often seeking the next gimmick or program that will take us to where we’re desiring to go in terms of church growth or revival. The problem with that, is we start new things constantly but never do perfect them, only to go on to start something else without burying what we just gave up on.
As a result of that, we have our interests and labors so divided that many of our churches are dysfunctional with regards to evangelism, instead of being the driving evangelistic force that our Lord desires us to be.
There are a few things we can stop doing that would bring us closer to having Great evangelistic moves instead of simply good moves. I believe we would go from having good church to having Great church if we would stop trying to entertain one another. Are we hung up on trying to entertain the crowd instead of entertaining the presence of the Lord.
We have it all backwards. We think if we sing good enough. We think if the choir ever gets it all together we will really have great church. We think if we hit the right note. We think if we gesture correctly as we sing. We think that somehow the crowd will be impressed enough to give their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.
We can’t sing good enough to give someone salvation. You can’t sing good enough to heal a broken body. You can’t sing good enough to give deliverance to a drug addict. You can’t sing or play or act good enough to save even one person’s soul, so why don’t we just entertain the Lord with our worship? It might be that we could draw his presence closer with our sincerity and hunger to worship him. If He came closer, there is no telling what could happen.
We don’t have Great church because we have been satisfied with good church. We don’t have Great worship services, because we are satisfied with good worship services. We don’t have Great results from our evangelist labors, because we are satisfied with good results.[ read more...]
- Positiveness: The ability to work with and see people and situations in a positive way.
- Servanthood: The willingness to submit, play team ball and follow the leader.
- Growth Potential: A hunger for personal growth and development; the ability to keep growing as the job expands.
- Follow-Through: The determination to get the job done completely and with consistency.
- Loyalty: The willingness to always put the leader and the organization above personal desires.