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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.


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