I like to think that I am a mentor to several young people…my kids. After that, I am probably not anything close to a mentor to anyone – especially anyone in the ministry field.
I have some influences: Glenn Armstrong, John Cashion, Doug King, Mark Williams and Matt Pinkston…to name a few. But, not really a mentor that I call each week or every two weeks to talk about how the ministry is going, or even how things are with the family.
Don’t you think this could be crucial to your ministry? I believe you should have some sort of mentor within your church or church staff. Aspects of mentoring can come in many shapes and sizes. Don’t you think having someone to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, as well as hold you accountable would be beneficial to you as a minister?
Think of Paul’s letters and his influence on countless people, including Timothy.
I need this.
So, this got me thinking…what makes a mentor? What should I look for in a person to be my mentor?
Here is a small list of what I think are good starting points…what should we add?
1. A Biblical Foundation – Our mentors should speak the Bible and teach the Bible. No matter what personal preference they have, the Bible should be their first form of advice to you.
2. Honesty is the Best Policy – Another major quality of a solid mentor is one who speaks the truth in love. If you are doing something that isn’t biblical, or out of touch to your congregation, you need to be told. The fact is you will be confronted one way or another about it. Why not have a mentor do it, instead of a congregation member in the middle of a business meeting or advisory council meeting?
3. “Forbid it Lord that I Should Boast” – Humility should emit like fireworks from your mentor. You want someone with experience in your field, but years of experience doesn’t always mean quality experience. Listen to your mentor. They won’t say “I’ve been in the ministry for 35 years and this is just how it is”. They will explain things (based on the Word) and understand your point of view and then correct you if needed.
4. We’ll Leave the Light On For Ya – Your ministry mentor should have time. He should have time for you and time to pray for you. A good quality of a true listener is someone who lets you speak, and then responds. Beware people who are ready to answer your questions with a personal experience of something they went through. Moreover, someone who answers your questions when you really aren’t looking for an answer: instead you are only looking for someone to listen.
5. Genuine Joy – Finally, I believe our mentors should have genuine joy for us when we speak of God doing things in us and through us. For our greatest joy should be the joy we find in leading other to the cross and Jesus’ saving grace. The encouragement of true joy from a ministry mentor can fuel the fire of our ministry candle for months at a time.
The Dallas Theological Seminary gives the following traits when looking to chose a mentor:
The heart of leadership is the heart itself. Being, or character, must always precede doing (tasks and skills).
Is the person interested in cultivating your God-given talents and abilities?
Does he or she act as a sounding board by asking, listening, affirming, and sharing in a timely manner?
Has he or she mastered the foundations of ministry in order to share with you the “art and science” of ministry in a clear way?
Acts as a resource
Is he or she willing to use his or her professional experience and personal network to connect you with other resources as is needed and appropriate?
Is he or she able to discern areas in which you need to improve and areas in which you are already strong?
Environment of trust
Does he or she seek to develop a relationship with you that is based on mutual respect and trust?
To go deeper into these traits, check out this PDF article.
What say you? Something to add? What good quality of a ministry mentor should we add to our list? Other thoughts?
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