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In my travels I often run into church leaders who have lived incredible lives of faith. They were impacted by God and subsequently abandoned their previous walk and threw their lives into ministry. One of the things I see with these leaders is an incredible tenacity to follow God at any cost. The concept of obedience and stretching their horizons is a never-ending one. At the same time, these leaders who have pulled their faith up by the bootstraps tend to fall short in many areas of ministry.
The leader whose attitude is, "Why can't they just obey God? That's what the Bible says..." is often the same one who struggles to provide mentorship and structured discipleship for his church. Why? For one, because they were likely never mentored. They sat under a minister who taught them from a pulpit, but never walked with them and coached them through life. They find it hard to see why people need coaching. They didn't. To them the Christian walk, Bible study, and obedience was so black-and-white, that they cannot fathom why it is not so clearly black-and-white to everyone else. As a result, they often get frustrated when people do not follow simple steps of faith and they do not have the patience nor vision to provide the deliberate mentorship that they were never given themselves.
In reality, it is not fully their fault. Few of us were mentored. We really don't even have a mental picture of what that looks like. We were preached to, but churches have rarely had the programs needed to support healthy discipleship. And few men ever took the time to apprentice the young believer from their gray world into black-and-white faith. As a result, many churches have a chasm between those that "get it" (and do all the work in the church) and those who never seem to possess the same reality of God.
A few years ago, a pastor read my book and called me for help. He had pastored for about 15 years and had struggled to get his congregation over 50 people. He was an honorable man who had given his all to help people. His wife and family had stood beside him as he endured hardship year after year in order to stay afloat. He spoke of desiring to see growth, but was saddened in that he lacked strong leaders. He was a man of bootstrap faith. He listened to the preacher as a young believer and he acted on what was said. His action led him into ministry and now he was struggling with people that simply would not take the same initiative in their faith.
I asked him, "How are you mentoring leaders?" He was puzzled, responding, "Well, I prepare and preach every week." For fifteen years, he had given people words—powerful words, but had never really built people. As a result, he never had an infrastructure that would support growth. Let me challenge that the job of a church leader as a mentor is never done. Even when you have a congregation of 10,000 and hundreds of mentors leading healthy people, you are still responsible to seek a handful of people who you can pour your life into in a deeper way.
"And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also." 2 Tim 2:2 (Amplified)
This was Paul mentoring to Timothy—writing him a personal letter—teaching him to mentor others. Are you a person of bootstrap faith? What are you doing to pour you life into a small group of people that you will mentor into true leaders? For every bootstrapper, there are dozens who will need a lot more effort in order to become whom God has called them to be. As leaders, the next move is ours.
WOW this is so true! I wonder how much further the younger generation would go if the older crowd would mentor us, we wouldn't have to start at ground zero thats for sure. thanks for the post, it was what i needed.
Posted on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 @ 9:59 PM CST
I am much like the Pastor you right about. I was saved in a church where all the "mentoring" was done from the pulpit. As a Pastor, I have followed that example and have wondered why people just don't get it.
My mind is being opened to this new idea of mentoring and I am looking for all the ideas I can find in this area.
Thanks for providing ideas for "old, tired guys like me :)"
Posted on Thu, Apr 2, 2009 @ 10:55 AM CST
I think this is definitely a cultural thing. The problem, IMHO, is that many young people don't want to be mentored by older people. Older people to them are out of touch and many young people don't respect the older generations.
So there is a major gap that must be bridged in order for this to happen effectively. In the church world, pastors and church leaders must create an environment where anyone who walks in the door knows very clearly what their next step is. And as they move through the process, the younger generation can be mentored in a new way, as they walk alongside other people who have already been down the road. Churches in many cases just aren't intentional enough about making that process happen.
Posted on Fri, May 1, 2009 @ 5:01 PM CST