The mentoring thing...relating
OK, you've figured it out. The whispering, telling, and screaming tactics are simply verbal exaggerations of important matters to be shared in a mentoring relationship. Some topics are the unmentionables of spiritual leadership, those things so often left unsaid while others are more obvious and can be spoken in a serious but less emphatic way. Tomorrow I'll list the things that I most often scream at younger pastors and spiritual leaders, such is their significance in remaining effective in ministry over the long haul. Today the agenda involves those ministry realities that are often taken for granted and therefore assumed. And, you know what assuming anything means, especially in ministry.
But, they aren't necessarily private and can be spoken over a cup of coffee or during lunch with others present. They're not going to ignite the grist mill that causes so much pain among the spiritual leader cohort and shouldn't pose a crisis point for those on the receiving end. Each is just a good piece of advice observed over the span of thirty-five years in ministry. Here's what I usually tell younger pastors who ask or who engage me in a mentoring relationship---
1. Regularity will define your spiritual health.
We're not talking bodily functions either. In this instance the subject matter is
spiritual in nature, the disciplines that keep us steady and mature in a calling
that is so irregular and demanding. Spiritual leadership requires commitments
of time and resources that can leave us empty. Regular Bible study, devotions,
time away for rest and renewal, scheduled family experiences, and being off
the grid are essentials for the long term effectiveness of mission.
2. Being prepared isn't merely a tag line.
Ministry is anything but routine. Hectic schedules, expectations that are
typically ill defined, family pressures, and other demands often push preaching
and teaching preparation to the edges of the priority list. Preaching may not
always be your most important responsibility but it is always your most
significant time of influence over the largest portion of the congregation at
one time. One old friend said preaching and teaching is when his counsel is
most effective. Keep preparation on your weekly agenda. Avoid shooting from
the hip as much as possible.
3. Your pastoral role will be your greatest entry point.
Doorway conversations are how you will know most of the congregation
entrusted to your spiritual care. But, there are special times when you can
really get to know the people you are leading. They are the times when you will
pastor them through a crisis, emergency, tragedy, family celebration, or
moment of special need. These times will be your greatest entry points into
their lives. Be a good steward of their trust and love them as a good shepherd.
4. Operate in God's provision but know your strengths and gifts.
God's power is made most visible in our personal weakness. That is very
apparent in that he has chosen to use jars of clay as his vessels of mission. That
said, he has also wired every human to function in his world. Read Psalm 139
again and marvel at the ways he prepared King David. In the same way, he has
endowed every believer for mission. So, know your personal wiring for ministry
and leadership. Purchase Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rather and take the
personal strength inventory. Log onto the LifeWay Resources sight and do the
Spiritual Gift inventory. Use your personal strengths and spiritual gifts as a
baseline for mission. Teach them to your church family as well.
5. Authenticity isn't another mask. Be yourself. Your new self.
There's a push today for authenticity in the ministry and the church. The most
unreached generation, the millennials, are looking for sincere, genuine
expressions of faith among God's people. Often this is pretended through base
presentation, crude expressions, and sometimes profane language. Being
yourself is what I always recommend. But, be your new self, the new creation
Christ made you, and not the old one with immature and unregenerate ways.
These five things aren't the dramatic stuff of whispers or screams. No, they're mostly the mundane things that often slip through the cracks of wise counsel or emergency intervention or the daily grind of mission enterprise and spiritual leadership. They're the stuff of relating truth that is often unspoken.
That's a good word, relating. It is what the mentoring thing is all about, a trusting relationship. Sometimes this kind of relationship requires a whisper, other times a scream. But, normally relating from experience is enough.