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The Role of a Mentor
By: Dr. Fred Childs
As common as the word mentor is in society, and in the business culture in general, when it comes to many religious organizations and the individuals that comprise them, mentoris often still a mysterious term. Confusion and misperceptions abound, and yet mentoring has been around since the dawn of man.
Just the mention of the word mentor causes an insecure leader or pastor to manifest jealousy, others to cry out that "I already have mentors in my life", and a few to simply confess they still do not know why they would even need a mentor.
Nonetheless the reality remains the same . . . the leadership actions of most leaders validate their need of a mentor. Every new endeavor of life often brings to the leader a need for mentoring. In essence, business training seminars and workshops is a multi-billion dollar industry because it is mentoring in real life to those desiring to improve and advance in their skills and knowledge.
Please read on.
A mentor is not some mysterious know-it-all guru that floats in and out of your life dressed in a white robe and riding on a cloud. Neither is a mentor a genie in a bottle that appears with the answer when you have a need and rub him correctly. Nor is a mentor a replacement for the pastor and influential individuals in your life.
A mentor is someone with the willingness, temperament, skill sets, gifts, talents, compassion, understanding, whit, intelligence, experience, and general life balance that shoulders up beside you to enable you to succeed at a higher level in life. A mentor is someone who cares about you enough to invest him or herself into you.
Whether paid or unpaid a mentor places more value in your life, aspirations, and goals than you ever return to them. Their primary reward is in helping, steering, advising, and equipping you toward the success they believe you have the potential for.
Every great leader attributes their success largely and in part to the influencers that played a key role in their pathway to success. Those influencers are mentors.
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Here are some foot- dragging steps that are sure to keep you buried in things to do.
Floundering - The failure to focus attention and efforts in a single direction. The cause is a lack of clear-cut goals. This trap can be avoided by crystallizing your goals. Try writing them down on paper. Make them as specific as possible. And Give Them Accomplishment Dates.
Wheel-Spinning - Trying to do something so you'll feel busy but accomplishing little or nothing. This usually happens when we let ourselves get behind in our work and try to assuage out guilty feelings by doing everything at once. You won't solve the problem by frantic activity. Survey your list and make a schedule to accomplish everything in a realistic time frame.
Fire-Fighting - Living in a state of perpetual crisis. We often end up like this due to a lack of planning and goals. It's important to include in your schedule planning time. Take the time to sit down and review your schedule and you goals on a daily and weekly basis.
Vacillation - Indecision. This happens when we fail to weigh the alternatives or consider the possibilities. Get tough with yourself. Weigh the pros and cons, write down all the possibilities and make decisions. Trying to do something and failing is better than trying to do nothing and succeeding.
Dawdling - Drifting, daydreaming, dilly-dallying. This is a failure to keep your goals clearly in mind and make them a priority. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Promise yourself a reward when you've done it.
Spraying - Diverting your efforts to many tasks instead of one; spreading yourself too thin. This is also the result of a failure to focus on your goals. After you've written down your goals, focus all your energy on accomplishing them one at a time.[ read more...]
Although you may feel like you are the only one, you are not. A large percentage of other pastors and ministers also feel isolated and alone even as they minister to crowds of people on a regular basis. The feeling of isolation or of being alone plagues many ministers and their spouses. This article identifies 12 causes and potential solutions. It also validates a few of the many needs for spiritual Fathers and/or mentors.
The vast majority of Christian leaders do not actually have a mentor or spiritual father in their life.
Each of the following topics could be a guideline for validating the need for a mentor in your life and ministry.
The Isolation of the Calling
If you truly have a calling from God you may be the only one with that particular call. Even a quick cursory review of the Bible reveals men like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah who felt the pain of isolation and solitude. They had no peers.
Elijah even stated once that he was the only one like himself, but God quickly corrected him by saying there were 7000 others similar to him. Your isolation may have many ingredients such as location, a unique but misunderstood calling, not relating to the people around you, and many others.
Regardless of the reason(s) for your isolation you need to understand that there is someone somewhere who can relate to you. It is your responsibility to climb out of your box of isolation. Of course, God always understands, but there are times you also need people. Just having someone to listen to you is not always enough. You need someone with wisdom and sage advice who can help direct you forward. Perhaps you need a mentor? The right mentor will help you use the isolation of the calling as an advantage to become more effective.
The Solitude of Alone Time
Solitude is a two-edged sword. Although it is healthy to have alone time for self, meditation, exercise, relaxation and prayer, it can also become a dark pit of separation and despair. You must not close out the essential people around you. Your family, staff, and peers each need the right amounts of time with you and your input.
If you do not have alone time in your schedule it is imperative that you work toward finding time for it. You must use your alone time wisely by assuring that there is some personal growth value associated with it. You must also establish some mind guards because an idle mind can wander into areas it should not go into. Always remember that the adversary may use your alone time to speak his deceits into your thoughts.[ read more...]
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers 5 valid points to consider if you desire to be an effective leader. We highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position.
- Face it, you are not as good as you could be. So what are you going to do about it? The only way to go farther, faster, is to engage outside help. You can maximize your leadership potential by getting a coach...or two.
- Find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings. Outside input is critical. Even if you could watch yourself in a mirror twenty-four hours day, you would never see yourself as others see you.
- Select a coach who has no axe to grind and not reason to be anything except brutally honest. He need not be an expert in your field. What your coach must be able to do , however, is put himself in the shoes of those who are influenced by your leadership.
There’s a difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving and planning. If you go to any management course, you’ll find it revolves around those three things. But leadership consists of communicating your Vision and Values.
If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who will?
Here are a few guidelines:
Believe it or not, the bigger your vision, the easier it is to reach. People are rarely motivated by small visions. They will follow a big vision easier than a little one. People need a purpose. Giving them a grand vision will enable them to connect as some level with that vision. If your vision is narrow, you may fail to interest some people. However, if your vision is large, it will leave plenty of room for others to get involved.
Don’t worry about solving the problem before casting the vision. A good example of visionary leadership would be the United States President, John F. Kennedy. Regardless of what you think about his politics, Kennedy stood up one day in the early 1960’s and said, “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” He was clear; he was precise; and the vision was something people could look to. Now, here’s the interesting thing – when he said it, the technology to put a man on the moon hadn’t even been developed. That’s visionary leadership! Just because you don't have all the pieces of the puzzle just yet, does not mean that you can't share the vision. Let others come along side you who will bring those pieces to the table.
Your God determines how big your goal is. So, how big do you think God is? The issue is not who do you think you are, but who do you think God is? In your dreams for ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do? What can God do in this place?” Then, use every single tool and resource that God puts in front of you - no matter what it looks like. Judging whether or not a resource if "of God" will limit God's ability to bless you in your work for Him.[ read more...]
All churches must learn to use their announcements as a tool to create anticipation and excitement for the future growth of the church, both short and long term.
Announcements are part of the 'marketing' campaign of the Church. Why is it that corporations will spend millions of dollars and months of planning on their 'announcing', yet we spend very little time and money concerning the marketing of our church and its events.
· Make sure to announce only those events that pertain to the entire body of the church.
· If you start announcing personal events, you are guaranteed to forget something or somebody along the way, and you will end up offending somebody.
· Personal events such as showers, weddings, etc. can be included in Church Bulletins, and Church Websites.
· Another easy way to announce personal events is to create a power point slide show of all of the upcoming events of the church including these personal events. This slide show can be shown before each service as part of a countdown, or simply as a media presentation before service.
· Announcements can also be used to create excitement for[ read more...]
Bi-vocational ministry is an essential weave in the fabric of the church today. It is a common and yet very misunderstood form of ministry, and often even by those involved in it.
The term “bi-vocational” infers that a person has two vocations. If a pastor or minister is bi-vocational it indicates he or she has another source of income beyond the church.
The term “bi-vocational” does not mean “part time”. One may be receiving a partial salary, but in reality he is still a full-time pastor or minister. Perhaps the best way to define a pastor who receives all of his income from a church is “fully funded”, not “full-time”.
In today’s challenging economy many individuals choose the role of bi-vocational ministry over a fully funded one. If you are one of those I assure you that you are not on an island alone. It is important that you accept your bi-vocational role, as a valid form of ministry, but also that you understand its potential limitations.
Most of us know how valuable momentum is. When you have it, things happen almost without effort. Without it, things come to a grinding halt. Where does momentum come from? Momentum comes from God, and it begins in your personal devotion to Him. Many leaders struggle because their devotional life is not what it should be. If you do not have momentum in your personal life, those you lead will not experience it.
Bi-vocational pastors face many challenges in life. One of their biggest challenges is time. Time is critical. Approximately sixty hours a week are spent working and getting to and from work. Another sixty hours are taken up sleeping. Church services and functions take up another twelve hours. That leaves only thirty-six hours a week to eat, exercise, spend time with family, train leaders, prepare sermons, teach Bible studies, counsel people and have personal devotion. Personal devotion is one of the areas that gets pushed off until the very last, and usually one does not have sufficient time or energy to have meaningful devotion with God.
That is a problem because devotion is a focused and faithful commitment of one's time and energy. Without personal time with God, spiritual momentum comes to a grinding halt. One begins to depend on their own power and abilities instead of God's power. It isn't long before the entire church and its ministries feel the effects.[ read more...]
There are reasons that we have to work. Listed are some brief reasons that we are to work and the benefits we gain from it.
1. We work to provide for our Family. I Timothy 5:8 says, “but if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”
- God expects a Christian to labor to provide for family needs. Providing for family necessities is a part of keeping the faith. Failure to do so makes that person equivalent to an unbeliever.
2. We work in order to help others. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
- Our generosity to help others is important to our Christian character. We must be concerned with the needs of other.
3. We work to render to God. Mark 12:17 says, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
- God gives us the 100% so that we might in turn give him 10%. By doing so, he blesses the 90% that is remaining.
1Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
2So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
3And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,
4Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
5So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
7Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
In the passage above, we find the Lord telling Jeremiah to go and get a belt and wear it. He then tells him to take his belt and go to the Euphrates River and bury it among the rocks. The Lord comes back to Jeremiah sometime later and tells him to go and dig out the belt. Whenever Jeremiah does this, he finds the belt is now marred and useless.[ read more...]