The Heart of a Christian Mentor

Qualities and Qualifications of a Mentor by Ron Lee Davis

Two surfers walking on the beach

In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, the apostle Paul listed the qualities and qualifications for people who would occupy positions of leadership and influence in the church. I believe these lists are just as applicable to the role of mentor as to other positions of influence, such as pastor or elder. Here is my own paraphrase of Paul’s qualifications for a biblical mentor:

(1) A mentor must be well-established in the Christian faith, not a recent convert.

(2) A mentor must be a person of good reputation and above reproach.

(3) A mentor must be faithful to his or her spouse.

(4) A mentor must be level-headed and self-controlled, not controlled by bad habits or addictions.

(5) A mentor must be honest and genuine.

(6) A mentor must love what is good, upright, and holy.

(7) A mentor must be biblically literate, daily studying and holding firmly the truths of Scripture.

(8) A mentor must be able to teach others.

(9) A mentor must be hospitable, ready to welcome both friends and strangers.

(10) A mentor must have a gentle and gracious spirit, not given to violent outbursts or anger, not quarrelsome.

(11) A mentor must not be a lover of money and material possessions.

(12) A mentor must be a mentor at home first; that is, a mentor must prove that he or she can nurture, love, teach, train, and counsel his or her own children before attempting to be an example to others.

Mentoring by Ron Lee Davis

– Ron Lee Davis. Mentoring: The Strategy of the Master. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1991, pp. 211-212.

The Ten Commandments of Mentoring

Connecting Paul D Stanley and J Robert Clinton

PAUL D. STANLEY AND J. ROBERT CLINTON ON THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF MENTORING

Not all mentoring relationships work out well. Sometimes you both expect more than what happens. Occasionally your relationship sags in the middle. Sometimes it drifts off and never finishes. The mentoring relationship can disappoint. You may not know what to do to repair it or improve it. Even so, you almost always gain some empowerment. Learning the hard way, you discover some practical guidelines that can help improve your mentoring. We could list many important guidelines that would help you in specific mentoring relationships. In this article we will describe some common ones that we found helpful for Intensive and Occasional mentoring situations. May you will add new ones, but these are good for starters.

COMMANDMENT 1: RELATIONSHIP

The stronger the relationship, the greater the empowerment. In all dimensions of the Constellation Model-vertical and lateral – relationships are vital. Sometimes mentoring relationships just happen and develop in a natural way. Others take time and are more deliberate. Compatibility and chemistry are true advantages, especially for co-mentoring. Most relationships will not grow to an intimate level, and not all need to. But it is important to keep in mind that you need to continue to develop the relationship.

COMMANDMENT 2: PURPOSE

Sometimes mentoring proves disappointing. This disappointment can frequently be traced back to differing or unfulfilled expectations. We find that expectations should be expressed, negotiated, and agreed upon at the beginning of a mentoring relationship. Commandments two through eight all deal with important areas of expectations. Along with expectations, you need to discuss and mutually affirm the purpose or basic aims of the mentoring relationship.

COMMANDMENT 3: REGULARITY

Disappointments can arise from differing expectations as to regularity of meetings between the mentor and mentoree. Some mentors may have in mind less frequent times together, while growing mentorees may envision more time together. It is better to talk this over and set some ground rules both for regular meeting times and for impromptu interactions. Availability for impromptu times always facilitates the development of the relationship, but there could be conflict with competing time demands if the mentor is heavily engaged in other priorities. Clarify these issues early on in the relationship. Intensive mentoring probably works best with at least once-a-week contact either face-to-face or by phone. Regularity may vary if the mentoree is a self-starter or a person with heavy responsibilities.

COMMANDMENT 4: ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability or mutual responsibility is an important mentoring dynamic. Again, it usually does not just happen. You must plan for it. Agree together on how you will establish and monitor mentoring tasks. The heart of empowerment lies not only in what the mentor shares with the mentoree but also in the tasks the mentor gives to the mentoree. You must complete the tasks in order to benefit. Accountability is the prod to make sure this happens, because change is difficult and rarely takes place without it. It can occur many ways: written reports, scheduled phone calls, probing questions during meetings, or a planned evaluation time. What a mentor likes to see is a mentoree who takes responsibility to see that accountability takes place. The mentoree’s self-initiative in accountability speeds and enhances empowerment.

COMMANDMENT 5: COMMUNICATION MECHANISMS

Frequently mentors see something in a mentoree that needs correction or about which they feel concern. How and when to communicate this is important to clarify early in a mentor relationship. This is particularly important among peers, who are more apt to hold one another accountable in personal areas. As mentors, we have always asked our mentorees, “If I see or learn of an area of need or concern for you – and it may be negative – how and when do you want me to communicate it to you?” It is important to discover timing and procedure so that when the opportunity comes for correction and challenge (and it will!), we are ready for it and can anticipate a mature response. When peers commit to each other, this is important for them to discuss when they make a covenant. A mentoree can also initiate this as he or she is in a place to learn, grow, and respond to challenge by the mentor.

COMMANDMENT 6: CONFIDENTIALITY

Commandments five and six have to do with communication. Five concerns communication between mentor and mentoree, and six concerns communication outside the mentoring relationship. The mentoring relationship, if it deepens, may involve a sharing of personal matters between mentor and mentoree. It may be that one or both of them do not want these things conveyed to those outside the relationship. Several factors influence the level of confidentiality. One factor involves the personalities of both mentor and mentoree. Some people are more vulnerable, and others are less vulnerable. Some are not concerned that others know the deeper issues of their lives, while others feel threatened by the thought that someone may find out about their personal concerns. They may not even want their age known. A mentoring relationship must honor the participants’ personalities and feelings about confidentiality. You will have to explore this with each individual mentoring relationship you set up. In counseling, you should consider all things confidential and not to be shared with others without permission. For other mentoring relationships, you both need to make it clear when something you share should be treated as confidential. Such a simple statement to each other will free you to speak openly and may save much grief later on.

COMMANDMENT 7: LIFE CYCLES OF MENTORING

Periods of mentoring vary in length of time for empowerment to happen. You should realize this and set reasonable time lengths for the type of mentoring you are involved in. Avoid open-ended mentorships. When you enter a mentoring relationship, do not expect it to last forever. In fact, we prefer breaking up potentially long mentoring experiences into obvious or logical segments, so that at each juncture closure can be made if desired. If you assume that the given purposes and accountability measures will take six months, set up a smaller goal of three months with evaluation. Then both of you can back out without losing face if the mentoring relationship does not meet your expectations. On the other hand, if it goes well you can continue the relationship and set up a new evaluation point. Better to have short periods, evaluation, and closure points with the possibility of reentry than have a sour relationship for a long time that each fears terminating. In summary, here are the basic guidelines: Set realistic time limits. Have exit points where both parties can leave without bad relations. Have open doors where the invitation to continue can be open. Recognize the necessity of a time limit in any mentoring situation.

COMMANDMENT 8: EVALUATION

No mentoring relationship is ideal. Expectations are seldom totally realized. From time to time the mentoring relationship should be evaluated. Wise mentors will use the three dynamic factors (attraction, responsiveness, accountability) and empowerment to help them evaluate the ongoing state of the mentoring venture. This allows for mid-course corrections. Evaluation is dominantly a mentor function. Mentorees will sense growth but will not have the perspective to effectively evaluate; therefore, a joint evaluation is best. In fact, in preparing for mentoring sessions it is a good idea for the mentor to review the whole process and see where progress has been made, where there are problems, and what should be done at the present juncture to improve the mentoring. The following is an example of the evaluation steps we suggest:

Step 1: Mentor evaluates first, on his own.

  • Lacks attention
  • Little prayer
  • Assignments not really on target
  • Interest is flagging
  • Ready to go on
  • Need to redefine

Step 2: Mentor initiates appropriate self-correction

Step 3: Evaluate and discuss – mentor and mentoree

Step 4: Mutual agreement to redefine or modify expectations

COMMANDMENT 9: EXPECTATIONS

Commandments eight and nine are two sides of the same coin. While evaluation, commandment eight, is mainly the responsibility of the mentor, expectation, commandment nine, is mainly the responsibility of the mentoree. Expectations are the root of most disappointing mentoring experiences. The basic rule that can offset missed expectations is a simple one: Use evaluation and feedback to modify your expectations so that they fit your real-life mentoring situation. Recognize that you will seldom reach ideal expectations, because real-life situations have complexities you cannot always anticipate. But you will probably reach realistic expectations. After a time of mentoring, modify what you ideally hoped for down to what is most likely going to happen. Recognize that there will be empowerment and rejoice in that. Lack of meeting ideal expectations does not have to be the source of dissatisfaction in mentoring.

COMMANDMENT 10: CLOSURE

A basic rule in planning passed around more and more is, “Begin with the end in mind.” All mentoring should follow this basic notion. Closure has to do with bringing a satisfactory end to a mentoring experience. Vertical mentoring that has no clear end in mind will usually dwindle to nothing with uneasy feelings on the part of both people. Vertical mentoring is not intended to be an ongoing experience. A happy ending for a mentoring experience involves closure, in which both parties evaluate, recognize how and where empowerment has occurred, and mutually end the mentoring relationship. What frequently happens in successfully closed mentoring is an ongoing friendship that allows for occasional mentoring and future interweaving of lives as needed. So then, don’t forget this final commandment: “Bring closure to the mentoring relationship.” This is probably the most violated of all the commandments, and the most detrimental. Even unsuccessful mentoring experiences should have closure.

LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES

Both of us have become increasingly involved in mentoring over the past years. Perhaps you can profit from some of our mistakes. We certainly have! Here are five mistakes to avoid.

1. Don’t be too dominant in establishing the purpose of the mentoring relationship. Draw the mentoree into it for his or her motivation, ownership, and appropriate focus.

2. Do not give out too many tasks too early. Let the mentoree set the pace.

3. Watch out for midway relational “sag.” The mentoring relationship tends to lose its original zest at about the midpoint. Ensure that the mentoree makes bite-size progress, and keep frequent contact.

4. Assess and select mentorees carefully. Check motivation, responsiveness, and right timing.

5. Be careful of “weak closure” and sloppy accountability. Be faithful to the mentoree during the mentoring experience, and end well.

Article adapted from Chapter 13 in Paul D Stanley and Robert Clinton. Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1992.

Dr. John Maxwell’s 5 Reasons to Live on Purpose

THE POWER OF PURPOSE

John C Maxwell seated

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. – PhiIippians 1:12-14

Paul might have been forgiven had he chosen to take a little sabbatical as he sat in prison, awaiting his trial. Yet he used even this opportunity to advance the gospel. Paul was a leader who never drifted from his mission. He determined to leave his mark wherever he went. How did Paul’s sense of purpose keep him in the battle as he sat in prison? What did he learn behind bars? Consider the following:

  1. A purpose will motivate you.
  2. A purpose will keep your priorities straight.
  3. A purpose will develop your potential.
  4. A purpose will give you power to live in the present.
  5. A purpose will help you evaluate your progress.

Article adapted from John C. Maxwell. Leadership Promises for Every Day (Kindle Locations 80-86). Kindle Edition.

Dr David P. Craig on the Question: “Am I Pastor or a Life Coach?”

Answer: “I’m a Pastoral Life Coach”

About the picture above: From the left [me] David P. Craig; in the middle – my uncle Enrique – the brother of my mother – and a faithful disciple and evangelist of Jesus, and on the right, a church member named Jorge. I had just preached on what family relationships from Ephesians 5 :22 -6:4 look like when Christ is at the center of them. It was a tremendous honor to preach in Spanish with several family members present on my mother’s side. My family has a long history of church involvement – planting; preaching; and service in Quilmes – a large city in a suburb of Buenos Aires. I had just returned from a week of training pastors in the Northern part of Argentina – Jujuy; and was about to do some training with some young church leaders at A Christian Camp Facility in Buenos Aires.

In January of 2006 I had returned from a trip to South America to train pastors and missionaries (almost all of them were bi-vocational; in the Province of Jujuy on the Northern Argentinean and Southern Bolivian border. I have been on such trips in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and many times in Argentina (the land of my roots – My parents were born there and I have adopted many of their customs – especially drinking an Argentine tea called “mate;” becoming a soccer fanatic – especially of River Plate and Quilmes, and of course their national team (Messi is the Best!); and loving all foods Argentine – especially “asados” with “entrana” and chorizos; empanadas, bocadillos, tortilla, and gnocchi. I also grew up learning “Castellano” – the Italian sounding Spanish of the Argentines – full of slang – they have a unique word, phrase, or idiom for everything!

Both of my grandfathers were preachers. My dad’s father – John Craig (my youngest son, Johnny aged 16, is named after him) – was a Plymouth Brethren missionary who was born in Belfast, Ireland and spent over 50 years in Argentina and Uruguay planting churches, being an itinerant preacher, and making disciples (I’ve spoken in parts of Argentina where people have told me that my grandfather led them to the Lord and discipled them – it always brings me to tears of joy). John Craig died at the age of 86 and he was still pastoring a church in the Province of Tucuman in Argentina shortly before his promotion to Heaven.

My mom’s dad – Saul Moreira (of Portuguese heritage) was a beloved Bible teacher and expositor of the Bible. Everyone loved to hear “Don Saul” teach – children, co-workers, and the various “Hermanos Libres” churches in and around Quilmes – a large suburb of Buenos Aires  La Boca is most famous for the “Boca Juniors Football Club” and the dance known worldwide as the “Tango.”

About the picture above: My Grandfather – Saul Moreira – was one of the project supervisors of the building of the bridge pictured above “Puente Transborador” – built in 1914 is one of the most recognized bridges in all of South America. The Bridge is located in what many consider the heart of Buenos Aires – “La Boca.” The La Boca neighborhood was so named for its position at “the mouth” of the Riachuelo, and its role as the port of call for thousands of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and other European countries in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. It’s within walking distance from of the birth of the “Tango” in El Caminito, and the home of the famous Boca Juniors Football Club).

When I was 17 years old (almost the age of my youngest son) I was a soccer, football, basketball, and baseball FANATIC! On any given day you would see me with a ball in competition depending on the season – I was fiercely seeking a victory in one of these sports. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s in Huntington Beach, CA., I was a diehard Laker fan (during the Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird era); a HUGE Dodger fan -during the Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Red Machine; when the St. Louis Rams were the L.A. Rams and played in Anaheim; and the L.A. Galaxy didn’t exist and we had season tickets for the L.A Aztecs. I still vividly recall going to the L.A. Coliseum and witnessing the amazing offensive and defensive skills of some of the best players in world soccer history – Johann Cruyff, Pele, and Franz Beckenbauer.

About the picture above: My room in Huntington Beach in 1975.  I was ten years old and already a sports fanatic. Notice the Rams (in L.A. back then) souvenirs on the left and the Los Angeles Dodgers souvenirs on the right. There is a 10th Anniversary Houston “Astrodome” pennant on my desk, and I’m reading a baseball world series magazine from 1975. I still love the Dodgers; wear Hawaiian shirts; but prefer the San Diego Chargers to those “traders” – the St. Louis Rams.

In my junior year of High School I was involved in a serious car accident. My best friend at the time was driving his Jeep and we were cut off by a drunk driver after the first day of baseball season my junior year. My dad and mom were on a business trip in Europe at the time. My older sister and the great staff at the hospital in Fountain Valley took terrific care of me. I suffered numerous broken ribs, bones, and had a lot of stitches in my head. I can remember shaking in bed at the hospital for a week straight and had a migraine headache for the next three months that subsided gradually so I could take catnaps here and there.

It was during that time that I received my calling to the ministry. Up until that year I was dreaming of either being a pro soccer or baseball player. Before the car accident I made my decision to focus on baseball and have a terrific junior season at Liberty Christian High School in Huntington Beach. I had dreamed about being a Los Angeles Dodger with the goal of taking over Bill Russell’s job at shortstop  The reality is I was a good baseball player, but not “great.”  I think if I had focused on being great at one sport instead of being “good” at four sports – I would have had a chance to make the pros (I ended up playing soccer in college for 3 years in Portland).

About the picture above. From about 1975 to 1980 my family would get about 20-30 games of season tickets during some of the Dodgers best years. The first Dodger game I went to was in 1974 and Ron Cey “The Penguin” hit a home run against the New York Mets to win the game in the 9th inning. I was imediately hooked on the Dodgers.Here is a picture of the “Fabulous Four: Ron Cey – 3B; Davey Lopes – 2B; Bill Russell – SS; and Steve Garvey – 1B.

I missed all of baseball season my junior year. During that summer – I started thinking more seriously about my life.  I had been a disciple of Jesus Christ since I was six years old.  I always loved the Lord, went to church weekly, loved going to “big church” (my pastor was the well-known Bible expositor – David L. Hocking. I’d rather hear “Pastor Dave” preach the meat of the Word than “watered down” Sunday school lessons designed for children who’d rather play with lincoln logs, than listen to a teacher. From an early age I’ve always loved apologetics and anything to do with the Bible, Theology, the Gospel, and the Church for whom Jesus gave His life.

However, the summer of 1983 was different from any previous summer in my short life. My passion for sports waned, and God gave me a renewed passion to know Him intimately and magnify Jesus in the proclamation of the Gospel. My senior year of high school I didn’t play any sports for the first time since I was six years old. I realized that I was a follower of Christ second, and a sports idolater first. I needed to repent of my sin of “sports idolatry” and was struck by what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.”

Up until my junior year of high school I had been a selfish “sports-aholic,” primarily living for the thrill of victory and to avoid the agony of defeat. I had been living for my glory first, and Christ’s second. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of this rebellious state and moved by the Holy Spirit “to be transformed by the renewing of my mind” (See Romans 12:1-2).

Over the summer I started asking and wrestling with these questions:

“What if I had died in that accident?”

“What have I accomplished in life that will actually last for eternity?”

“What will I do that will last for eternity for the rest of my life?”

“What things will last on into eternity when I die?”

“Why did God create humans for in the first place?”

“How many people do I know that have I never told about Jesus?

There were many more questions like those above. However, my senior year was different. I started going to a Christian Book store called “Pilgrim’s Progress” and started devouring theology books by J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many others. While all my friends were going on dates and spending money on movies – I was saving money to buy more books. I studied Greek that fall in a discipleship relationship with my Bible professor in High School – he was a Talbot Seminary student at the time (I would eventually earn my Master of Divinity at Talbot in 1991); I started teaching a junior high Sunday school class in my church; I was witnessing to everything that breathed – I even practiced on my cocker spaniel – “Carlitos” and my cat “Jinx.”

Two defining moments happened to me in the summer of 1983. The first was through an evangelist that you’ve probably heard of – Luis Palau. Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Luis Palau have planted more seeds of the Gospel than perhaps all the other evangelists of history combined. Luis Palau was passing through on his way to Los Angeles and came over for dinner one evening. Anyone who has ever eaten my mom’s cooking, would NEVER pass up an opportunity to eat her food! If she were younger (she’s 80 today – and still cooks up a storm), I’m convinced she would have her own show on the Food Network and be more popular than Paula Dean or Giada DeLaurentiis!

About the picture above: Luis Palau has literally preached to more people than anyone in the history of Christianity next to Billy Graham – and he’s done it in perfect Spanish and English.  I haven’t heard or seen much of Luis since our days at Multnomah – but I will be forever indebted to Luis for recommending I attend Multnomah University. I received some great training there. However, the best gifts I received were some of my life-long godly friends – who are all comrades in the ministry of the Gospel around the world. Luis Palau’s nephew George Palau, who with his wonderful wife – Stacey – runs an orphanage in Mexico is one of those very close friends. George is one of the greatest servants of Christ I’ve ever known. I have learned much more from him, than I ever will from Luis. Nothing against Luis. But one of the great things about being a Christian is that we all impact one another up close in the context of community – especially when we minister to those who are suffering and in great need. George drove all the way from Mexico yesterday to spend the day with me. I love George, Dave Steele, Eddie Remley, and Mark Wilks, as if they were my very own brothers – and in Christ we are a “band of brothers.” 

Luis Palau is one of the few “big name” Christian heroes that I really respect and admire. He is one of the few pastors I know that is the same in his home, as when he is in front of a crowd of 100,000 people. What you see or hear from Luis is what you get. He practices what he preaches, and is quick to repent when he blows it. My parents grew up in the same Plymouth Brethren (“Los Hermanos Liberes”) church as Luis in Quilmes, Argentina and have known him since he was very young.

Getting back to the dinner. My mom made her famous Caesar salad, homemade spinach ravioli with her amazing Osso-Bucco and meat-sauce, and we had her amazing homemade “dulce de batata” for dessert (I remember – because these are three foods I never eat anywhere else – because no one comes close to preparing these items as well as my mom). After this very filling and satisfying meal Luis and I went for a long walk. I picked his brain and remember asking him, “Luis, how do you know if you are being called to the ministry?”

I honestly can’t remember his exact reply. I just remember that he affirmed my calling and recommended that I attend the same college he attended when Ray Stedman (author of the very influential book “Body Life” and, at that time Pastor of the influential Peninsula Bible Church in Northern California) helped bring a young Luis to the United States to be pastorally trained – because he heard Luis preach on a trip to Argentina and saw how gifted he was. Ray Stedman made it possible for Luis Palau to go to Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon. The school’s motto was, “If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah”.  Luis encouraged me to visit the school and noted and affirmed my passion to know the Word and to make Jesus known.

The second “defining moment” for me came in letting my parents know that I believed and felt overwhelmingly that God was calling me to full-time ministry. God was blessing my teaching, evangelism, and discipleship with youth. I couldn’t imagine doing anything more worthwhile for the rest of my life. I wanted to make my time and life count for what would matter for eternity.

A few days after my walk and talk with Luis Palau, I sat down at approximately 11:30 a.m. at the kitchen table with my mom. My parents are godly people. My dad has worked hard since he was seven years old and he has had several successful businesses in Argentina, England, and the United States. My dad has always been incredibly giving and very involved in ministry. I don’t ever remember getting up in the morning not seeing my dad with an open Bible and drinking mate (Argentine tea). My dad has been an elder and on the Board of several missions around the world. He devours theology, and manifests all the fruit of the Spirit. There is not a single man on the planet that I admire, respect, and desire to be more like than my father. He has been such a good model and such an influence in my life – that I could probably write a whole book on his influence for good in my life.

Meanwhile, getting back to the table with my mom. My dad was working in his office – he added an office to the garage over our Huntington Harbor home, so he didn’t have to drive to Los Angeles anymore. I sat down with my mom and was hesitant to bring up my “calling” for fear that my parents would think I was “loco.” I thought I would share it with my mom first before bringing it up to my dad. My plan up until that summer had been to get a baseball scholarship to a Pac Ten (now Pac 12 or whatever they call it) school, preferably UCLA (Go Bruins! – largely through John Wooden’s influence in my life – his book “They Call Me Coach” was the first book I read from cover-to-cover; John Wooden pictured below)), and to major in Business Administration. I never thought of being anything but a professional athlete – my only difficult decision was I wanted to play all four major USA sports – baseball, football, basketball, and soccer! I’m sure hockey would have been in there too, but nobody except for Canadians knew what that was in the 1980’s – until we won the Olympics in the “Miracle on Ice”!

About the picture above: John Wooden won 10 National Championships as a coach of the UCLA Bruins Basketball team. Wooden had some great players; but he was also able to make great players make other players even better. I think John Wooden (a committed Christ follower) would have been a great pastor as well. He is a perfect model of a life coach – committed to Christ; committed to bringing out the best in individuals; and their teams, churches, and organizations. Everybody wins when they have a good coach. John Wooden was simply the best!

I would literally dream almost every night, and daydream in my classes in school of throwing the over time touchdown pass in the last seconds of the Super Bowl to lead the Rams to victory over the Steelers; hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series before the home crowd in Los Angeles over (who else?) the New York Yankees; shooting a three-point shot in over time to win the NBA championship for the Lakers against the Celtics.  I dreamed of taking the Americans all the way to the final in the World Cup and beating Germany, Argentina, or Brazil by scoring a hat trick in bringing the World Cup to the USA for the first time. I even remember in my dreams calling my cousins Ariel and Martin in Argentina to apologize to them for beating their homeland in their favorite sport!

Oh yeah – sorry, sidetracked – back to the table with my mom. When I told my mom about the stirring in my heart, my desire to know the Scriptures, my passion to proclaim Christ, and my desire to attend Multnomah in Portland – she began to sob. I was thinking to myself, “Oh no, now I’m in trouble – there goes the family business.”

My mom came around the table and gave me a big hug and went and got her Bible and read from 1 Samuel 1 – the story of Samuel’s being dedicated to the Lord (I encourage you to read it). She read the entire chapter to me out loud and then after reading the last three verses of chapter 1 and the first 2 verses of chapter where Hannah says and prays the following:

And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 1:26-2:2)…

She came and hugged me, and said that Hannah’s was her story and Samuel’s story was my story. Rachel (my mom) told me that the doctors told her she would never have a child again. She lost two children due to complications between my sister – Miriam – and myself.

I never knew the story of my mom and dad’s loss until this day, at this moment, at the table in our kitchen. In short, my mother had always wanted six children (two of them I will meet for the first time in Heaven one day). I have two brothers – Daniel, 15 years my senior and George, 10 years older than me; and a sister that’s 8 years older than me – Miriam. One child my mom lost was never named (but will have a name that Jesus has given according to Revelation), the other was named Michelle.

My mom went and got my dad from the office and she shared the story of how she prayed that if God gave her another child – she and my dad would dedicate him to the Lord – just as Hannah had dedicated Samuel. Talk about a confirmation! We all wept and prayed, and thanked the Lord for His answers to prayer to my faithful parents prayer to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

About the Picture above: My parents have been the biggest influences on my life spiritually. My dad, Daniel, will be 90 in January; and my mom, Rachel, will be 81. They prayed for me before I was born. They read the Bible to me from the time I was a baby (and still quote it to me on the phone or every time we are together). They are my biggest heroes in life. They are going to be married 64 years on December 4, 2012. My parents have always been my biggest fans, but better than that – they have been huge fans of Jesus, His Church, and the spread of the Gospel around the world. They have had a lot of difficult times financially, physically, and have lost almost all their life-long friends. And yet they always have a smile on their faces and exhibit the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. I love them with such admiration, appreciation, and respect that I will never be able to convey in words. I am a Christian today because of the sovereign election of God in eternity past; and love and follow Jesus because they modeled His love and grace when I was growing up, and continue to do so, to this very day. I can’t think of two people who better model what the Apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Jesus Christ.”

Since that day I have gone on to earn a B.S. (at Multnomah); a M.Div. at Talbot School of Theology; a doctorate and doctoral work in Theology and Pastoral Leadership at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, and Northwest Graduate School in Seattle. I have been a youth and senior pastor in California and Washington State. I have traveled to more than 30 countries on missions trips and training pastors and missionaries. I have discipled dozens of men. My best education was one I never purposely applied for, but have most definitely been “accepted” to. It’s proverbially called “The School of Hard Knocks.” I would concur with the great Reformer Martin Luther who summarized his learning in this way, ““Suffering has made me a better theologian than any book I’ve ever read.” However, I don’t think I’ve seen the tip of the iceberg of what God has entrusted unto me as a steward of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The questions I asked earlier are questions I’m still asking. Having been diagnosed with cancer recently and beginning radiation and chemotherapy in the next week, I pray that God will continue to change me and conform me to His Son. I pray that whether I live another forty-six years, or only have days to live for him – that people will know, see, and hear about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I desire more than anything that all my family members would know and follow Jesus. I firmly believe with the sentiment, “This life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I have lived a wonderful life. I have been bruised and broken, but not crushed. I am becoming stronger through life’s trials and tribulations. Since the age of seventeen all I’ve ever wanted to do, is know Jesus intimately and make Him known.

This past year I’ve been doing some “life coaching” through a non-profit ministry I established called Vertical Living Ministries. I started this Pastoral ministry with the help of some wonderful people who have sacrificially contributed generously, so that I can make multiplying disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ around the world. I have trained people one-on-one and in small and large groups, discipled men and women, and trained people in Christ-centered living through this ministry.

I originally established Vertical Living MInistries to provide training for leaders in poor countries. We who live in America have access to so many good resources by way of books, conferences, Bible Colleges, and Seminaries. I have been to countries where pastors share one Bible amongst themselves and have absolutely no training or access to any resources whatsoever. However, now with my cancer, I really don’t know where God is calling me. However, I know that I will always be a pastor. I am a shepherd. I have had Jesus shepherd me, and I simply want to find other sheep who will follow hard after the Good Shepherd.

I call myself a Pastoral Coach because I want to encourage Christians to make Christ number one in their lives. I love “life” coaching because I can help disciples of Christ focus on the following nine areas of Christo-centricity.  Just as we talk about  a Planetary system that’s Helio, and not Geo-centered, I like to think of life functioning best when our lives revolve around, and in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

(1) Spiritually – Your Relationship to God through the Lordship of Jesus Christ. My main focus here is to help people understand the life transforming ramifications of the Gospel in your life: past, present, and future ramifications for today. Most Christians only remember or hold on to their past, or future in Christ and forget how the Gospel needs to be lived out on a daily basis – we are continually learning to repent and grow in our faith with Christ at the center of it all.

(2) Marriage – Your triune covenantal relationship with Christ at the center. Marriages can work for two unbelievers, and even sometimes when an unbeliever is married to an unbeliever. However, it was designed by God to not be a marriage of two, but of three. I help couples to practically make Christ the center of their “solar system” in their marriage.

(3) Family/Parenting – How to be a Christ-centered family and raise Children that love Jesus above all else. For many parents, their children become “idols.”, especially for women.  Their identity, security, and significance is oftentimes wrapped up in the performance, success, and behavior of their children. If their children are doing well – they are doing well. However, if a child rebels or is unsuccessful in life – they take it personally, and lose their way. Many “empty nesters” – especially women, become depressed and feel like life is meaningless when their kids move out of the home. I help parents to see that our security and significance needs to be properly placed in submission to the Lordship of Christ. Only God never changes. If we place our security in our kids or anything else – we are in big trouble. In raising our children we are merely short-term stewards of what is rightfully God’s. The greatest thing we can do as parents is to model Christo-centricity for our children. I’m grateful that my parents modeled and taught me daily that the most important thing in life is my relationship with and service unto Jesus.

(4) Vocationally – Your Work in the World and with the Church. Most women have the idolatry of “motherhood.” Most men see their significance and security in their work. Their identity is wrapped up in their position, possessions, and provisions for their families. Well, what happens to the man who loses his job, gets physically incapacitated, or runs into midlife.  You’ve been working at a job for 30 years and come to realize that you were climbing the wrong ladder that was leaning up against the wrong wall in your “prime” years? Men and women both have pseudo securities – or what the Bible calls “idolatry.” I try to teach people how to view their talents, passions, skills, abilities, and hobbies as unto the Lord. Ultimately, God is our boss and we will spend the bulk of our lives working – but do we find the pleasure of God in our work? Few things excite me more than seeing businessmen or women shine brightly for the sake of Christ in the context of making a profit that will last for eternity in the lives of others.

(5) Health – Taking care of your body that God will use on this earth until the day of your final glorification. This is one of the most neglected areas for Christians. It’s very easy to get out of balance in what we eat, how we exercise, and being responsible with the stewardship of our bodies. I love what C.S. Lewis says, “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” In other words, we are dualists. We have an immaterial part of us, and we are housed in a physical body that must be maintained. Sometimes, we can’t control what happens to our bodies (Doctors don’t know how I got cancer). However, even if we have ailments and age, we still need to be responsible in taking care of our bodies as best as we can, so we can serve Jesus as long as we can, and as effectively as we can, while we “house” the soul.

(6) Friendship – Your connections and building bridges with others as you reflect Christ in your community. Too many people are wrapped up in work, family, and get isolated outside of community. I thank God for the emphasis on community by many churches. However, if you want to have friends, you must be a friend. Nobody models this better than Jesus, “a friend of sinners.” Friends are so important – especially in tough times. Having friends and family means the world to me especially when the “going gets tough.” I firmly believe that especially among pastors (health and friendships are two of the most neglected areas in this list of nine – and that it’s what will “do them in” during mid-life or their retirement years).

(7) Financially – Your stewardship of God’s resources. I can honestly say that having to give away or sell more than 6,000 theology books in the past five years, going from a 3,400 square foot house we owned to a 1,600 square foot condo we rent, and having to give away all our pets (four cats and a dog) have been some of the hardest things to go through, but also some of the best. Money and possessions (having control) is a huge idolatry in our culture. Simple is better. Jesus left earth for Heaven literally naked – and so will we. However, are you content with only Him and nothing else? Look at the difference Jesus made two thousand years ago, and is still making today. He owned nothing and left no possessions behind. Nothing “owned” Him. What owns you? I believe that generosity exhibits the nature and character of God perhaps more fully than any other trait. For example, I don’t think it’s coincidence that the most famous verse in the Bible is about the greatest sacrifice and the greatest gift: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Aren’t you glad God is a giver? How about you? I believe that Tim Keller is dead-on here when he says, “Idolatry is just a failure to obey God, It’s setting the whole heart on something besides God… Where your money goes most effortlessly, that’s where your heart really rests.” In my life I’ve found peace and rest not in the economy, but in Jesus alone – and He never changes – satisfaction is truly found when you realize that when God is all you have, He’s all you really need.

(8) Mentoring – Investing in Others Using your unique Skills, Gifting, Talents, Personality, and Passion. I’m forty-six years old and have never really been formally discipled or mentored by anyone. That’s a tragedy of the first order. I firmly believe that every single man and every woman has strengths and skills to teach future generations, but these don’t typically happen without intentionality. I train people to use their unique gifts, passions, abilities, skills, and so forth and pass those on to future generations – with intentionality. It really upsets me to no end to see how self-absorbed we’ve become. We have our I-pads, I-pods, and I-phones, and have become “I-focused”! Don’t get me wrong – I love technology, but for many it’s become an obsession and an idol. We need to become more focused on Jesus and others if we want to make a difference that will last into eternity. I love what Paul says about Jesus in Philippians 2:4-5, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

(9) Discipleship – You’re investing in the Spiritual Growth of other followers and would-be followers of Christ. Nothing gets me more riled up than the lack of lifestyle and intentional discipleship taking place among Christians. Again, without intentionality this just doesn’t happen. I have asked men in their twenties up until their eighties if they have ever been discipled by another man – In thirty years of doing ministry I hear “Never” or “What are you talking about” at least 90% of the time. This is unconscionable! And yet, the great commission is all about “making disciples” of all nations. Are you intentionally making disciples in your circle of influence with your children, friends, neighbors, spouses, family, co-workers, teammates, and fellow students?

It is my prayer and hope to take the baton that has been passed on to me from my godly heritage in these nine areas. I hope that God will use my cancer to further the Gospel. I desire to teach, preach, and live for the glory of Christ while I have breath.

My life verses are 1 Timothy 4:16 where the Apostle Paul says to Timothy: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Acts 20:24, where the Apostle Paul proclaims, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus Christ, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

And Romans 8:16-18 & 28-30, where the Apostle Paul declares, The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

It’s been about 13 months since I last preached – I haven’t had any invitations. And yet the passion of my soul is to preach the Gospel. Sometimes I feel like a Pastor who is a dinosaur in the 21st century, fast-paced Church. I have tried to get a job in a modern church for the past 13 months – in churches that appear to want CEO’s, not Shepherds; Programs, not Preachers; is more concerned about being politically correct and pragmatic than Theologically correct and Christ-centered. Whether I end up pastoring again in a local church or life coaching, I can’t help but be what I am – dependent on God’s mercy and grace as I battle cancer. Since the age of seventeen all I’ve ever wanted to do, is to know Jesus and to make Him known.

I love Him because He first loved me. I love the gospel and to declare it with my whole heart, mind, and soul. I love to shepherd people – not because I’m a great shepherd, but because I have a Great Shepherd! His name is Jesus! As long as I have breath I will declare Him among the nations. I will serve Him because He came to seek, serve, and save me first. He is my peace, and He is the hope of all nations. He will reign on the Earth again, and I will reign with Him. Until that day, I believe wholeheartedly with these words of Paul David Tripp:

“No matter how great your weakness is, God’s power is greater. No matter how out of control your life is, God’s sovereignty is greater. No matter how alone you may feel, God’s presence is greater. No matter how out of control your life is, God’s provisions are greater. No matter how deep your sin is, God’s grace is deeper. No matter how foolish your foolishness is, God’s wisdom is greater. The same sovereign God who planned the details of your life sent his Son so you would have what you need to face what He willed for you.”

According to the New American Oxford Dictionary a “Pastor” is “one who gives guidance to someone.” A coach is “a tutor who gives private or specialized teaching.” It is my desire to guide people with the experiences and education I’ve received and to teach them of Jesus at the center of all of life. Whether in a local church as a pastor, or in the Church universal as a “pastoral life coach.” I only want to invest in that which matters for eternity. All these years I have preached the Gospel – how one can have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Now as I battle cancer, it is my desire to preach with my life and suffering how to have peace with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Once again I quote from the Apostle Paul,

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (12 Corinthians 5:14-15).

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-14).

 Sola Scriptura! Sola Fide! Sola Gratia! Solus Christus! Soli Deo Gloria!

 (Scripture Alone! Faith Alone! Grace Alone! Christ Alone – To God be the Glory Alone!)

Dr. Gary R. Collins on Six Ways To Find Your Passion

“How To Find Your Passion”

(1)  Ask someone who knows you well to identify your passions.

(2)  Look at your environment. Does this reveal what really interests and excites you?

(3)  If you had no limitations in terms of money or time, what would you do?

(4)  Think of times in your life when you felt exuberant and excited to be alive. What might this say about your passion?

(5)  When you were young and your parents couldn’t find you, what did they assume you were doing? What does this say about your passion?

(6)  Pray that God will reveal His passion and open doors for you to be able to use your passion for His glory in your life.

The six steps above are condensed and adapted from the excellent book on by Gary Collins called Christian Coaching. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2009 (Revised Edition).

 About the Author:

Gary R. Collins is a licensed clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University. He is author of numerous articles and over 50 books, including Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling, and Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality. Gary was general editor of the thirty-volume Resources for Christian Counseling series of professional counseling books mostly published in the 1980s, the Word Christian Counseling Library of cassette tapes, and the twelve-volume Contemporary Christian Counseling series of books that appeared in the early 1990’s.

In December 2001 NavPress published Gary’s book Christian Coaching, a book that has been revised, expanded, updated, and published in 2009. The third edition of Christian Counseling (revised, expanded and completely updated) was published by Thomas Nelson publishers in 2007, followed by an accompanying Casebook of Christian Counseling, also published by Nelson.

Gary Collins grew up in Canada and graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and the University of Toronto before taking a year of study at the University of London. His first teaching occurred during that year as he taught courses for the University of Maryland in Germany and England. Gary spent several years in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve before moving to the United States to study clinical psychology at Purdue University. He took his clinical psychology internship at the University of Oregon Medical School Hospitals (now University of Oregon Health Sciences University) in Portland and subsequently enrolled at Western Seminary for a year of theological study.

At Western he met his wife Julie. They were married in 1964 and moved to Minnesota where Gary taught psychology at Bethel College in St. Paul. Their two daughters, Lynn and Jan were born in Minnesota. After a year on the faculty of Conwell School of Theology in Philadelphia, the Collins family moved to Illinois where Gary taught psychology and counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. For much of that time he was department chairman.

In 1991, Gary assumed responsibility for co-leading the fledgling American Association of Christian Counselors. In the seven years that followed, Gary was AACC Executive Director and later the organization’s first President. During that time AACC grew from about 700 paid members to more than 15,000. In addition to these duties, Gary founded Christian Counseling Today, the official AACC magazine which he edited for several years. In October, 1998 Gary Collins resigned from his responsibilities with AACC so he could devote more time to developing Christian counseling and Christian coaching worldwide. In addition to his other responsibilities, he currently holds a position as Distinguished Professor of Coaching and Leadership at Richmont Graduate University (formerly Psychological Studies Institute) in Atlanta and Chattanooga. In addition he is Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology and Counseling at Regent University in Virginia where he consults with the faculty and annually teaches an accredited on-line doctoral course in coaching.

Gary has accepted invitations to speak in more than fifty countries and he continues to travel overseas and within North America to give lectures and lead workshops on Christian counseling, leadership, and Christian coaching. Gary also has a small coaching practice, writes the weekly Gary R. Collins Newsletter, and mentors a number of young, emergent leaders. He is active in a local fitness center, is blessed with boundless energy and good health, and has no plans to retire. Gary and Julie Collins live in northern Illinois, not far from their two daughters, their son-in-law, and their grandson Colin Angus McAlister.

Howard and William Hendricks on The Ideal Mentor

TEN MARKS OF A MENTOR

The Ideal Mentor is a Person Who:

1. Seems to have what you personally need.

2. Cultivates relationships.

3. Is willing to take a chance on you.

4. Is respected by other Christians.

5. Has a network of resources.

6. Is consulted by others.

7. Both talks and listens.

8. Is consistent in his lifestyle.

9. Is able to diagnose your needs.

10. Is concerned with your interests.

Adapted from Howard Hendricks & William Hendricks. As Iron Sharpens Iron. Chicago: Moody Press, 2000 (Kindle Locations 713-715). Kindle Edition.

Great Questions to Ask Your Mentoree/Disciple

[Bobb Biehl is a personal and organizational leadership expert – below are some great questions to go over = personally; with your staff, team, mentoree, small group, disicple/s, etc.]

(Adapted from Bobb Biehl, Mentoring, pp. 201-202)

 DREAMING…about the Future in a Practical Way

  1. God: What three changes in me would most please our Eternal God in His Holy Heaven?
  1. Dream/Purpose: What can I do to make the most significant difference for God in my lifetime? Why am I on the earth? What is the very best organizational context for my dream?
  1. Primary Result: What is the single best measurable indicator that I am making progress with my dream?
  1. Life Priorities: If I could accomplish only three measurable priorities before I die, what would I accomplish?
  1. Ten-Year Focus: If I could accomplish only three measurable priorities in the next ten years what would make a 50% difference in my life-long contribution, what would I accomplish?
  1. Annual Focus:
    • Focus – What single word best captures the focus of my next year?
    • Opportunity – Where was my greatest unexpected success last year? Why? What three steps could I take now to take full advantage of this “Window of Opportunity” this coming year?
    • Land Mines – What three land mines or roadblocks need my immediate attention? What have I been praying most about in the past 30 days? What three changes could reduce my “risk” by 50%?
    • 30/10/50% – If I could only accomplish three measurable priorities in the next twelve months that would make a 50% difference in my contribution in the next ten years, which 3 things would I most want to accomplish?
  1. Quarterly Focus: What three measurable priorities could I accomplish in the next ninety days to make a 50% difference in the results I see by the end of the year?
  1. Organization: What three categories could I make to see a 50% difference in our morale as a family or team?
  1. Cash: If I had to cut my budget 21%, what would be the first three things to go? If I got a surprise gift of 21% of my budget, what three things would I do immediately?
  1. Quality: What three changes could improve the quality of my work by 50% in the next twelve months?

Bobb Biehl is an executive mentor. He graduated from Michigan State University (psychology major) in 1964 and received a Master’s degree (counseling) from Michigan State in 1966.

In 1976, Bobb founded Masterplanning Group International. As its president, he has consulted personally with over 400 clients. In that time, he has met one-on-one with over 3,500 executives (board members, senior executives, and staff members) and invested an estimated 40,000 hours in private sessions with some of the finest leaders of our generation. His clients are primarily large or fast-growing churches, nonprofit organizations, for profit corporations, and government agencies.

Based on these thousands of hours of practical “rubber-meets-the-runway” experience, Bobb has originated 35 resources (books, tapes, notebooks) in the area of personal and organizational development. These resources include published books entitled Boardroom Confidence, Dreaming, Leading with Confidence, Masterplanning, Mentoring, Stop Setting Goals, and Why You Do What You Do. His latest book, Dreaming Big, is co-authored with Dr. Paul Swets.

Bobb is a founding member of the board of directors of Focus on the Family. He is also a member of the board of directors of Liquid Metal (publicly traded). Prior to starting Masterplanning Group, Bobb was on the executive staff of World Vision International. While at World Vision he designed and developed the Love Loaf program, which has raised millions of dollars worldwide.

Bobb and his wife, Cheryl, have been married since 1964.

Have You Developed an Intentional Life Plan?

[The very helpful resource below is similar to the Vertical Life Plan that I have developed to help people live more intentionally with Christ at the center of all of life for the ultimate glory of God. I highly recommend that you get a Bible, a journal, and slip away to a quiet place to work through this Life Plan. Ideally, if you can get away for a day or two in a quiet place where you will have minimal disturbances or distractions you will find that God can really meet you in a powerful way and release you on a rejuvenating and reinvigorating journey with Him and for Him. I would also highly recommend that you go through this inventory with a trusted friend, pastor, life-coach, or mentor for some honest accountability and encouragement to give your life focus, direction, and faithfulness to God’s calling on your life – DPC]

 

 “LIFE PLAN” by Dr. Martin Sanders

It’s been called “MIDLIFE crisis,” “midlife reevaluation,” “midcourse adjustment,” “crunch-time” and many other things. When you reach a place in your life where it becomes clear either to you or to the people around you that it’s time for you to do an assessment, where do you start?

This tool is designed for self-evaluation and reflection. You may want to have others [like a professional life coach, pastor, or trusted friend] assist you in the process. Realize that not every section will be the most pertinent for you, but seek to go through each of them in a thoughtful and reflecting manner. This process may take you a few hours or, for some, a few days. It may cause you to reflect, find hope or maybe even shed some tears. It is designed to assist you in more effectively evaluating the best of who you are and how to reach your life dream in life.

Whether it’s time for a change in lifestyle or career or simply a time for you to reevaluate how to do what you do more effectively and more efficiently, this life plan is designed to help you move from your original dream through the developmental stages of assessment to finally arrive as a future dream.

Original Dream

Describing your original dream takes you to a place of ultimate impact and fulfillment. It’s a place where your life has maximum meaning. Almost everyone has a dream, but the fear of failure and concern about finances are often limitations. The purpose of this exercise is to help you figure our what it is that really captures your imagination, how you can be used the most and then how you can take steps to fulfill that original dream.

(1)  God back to a time in your life—high school, college or some other time—when you were dreaming your original dream. Begin to define or describe that dream.

(2)  What really excites you about your dream?

(3)  Do you possess the necessary resources—education, experience, discipline, courage, confidence, finances, etc., –to fulfill your dream? If not, can you secure them?

(4)  Do you think in terms of success n life or personal significance and influence? Do you think in terms of financial success or personal or spiritual impact?

(5)  How clear is your sense of dream? Is it very undefined? Is there a general sense to it? Are there general steps for it to be accomplished?

(6)  What are two or three steps you could take to get you started on defining, discovering and fulfilling your original dream?

Your Gifts And Calling

Gifts/Passions. When you assess your areas of gifting, it’s not just about reflecting on what you’ve done. It’s also important to look at areas that you’ve not yet developed. Look past successes and failures. Look at issues of confidence, or lack thereof, to see if they are holding you back. Also, look not only at your experiences, but also at your passion and your dreams. Then look at issues of your temperament, the time availability you have and your personal and spiritual maturity. This will help you figure out what your gifting and passion are and how you can best invest your life.

(1)  What do you like to do?

(2)  What have you been successful at?

(3)  What is the primary passion of your life? What do you dream about when you give yourself time and permission to dream?

(4)  Of the experiences you have had in the last five years, which ones have captured your imagination most?

(5)  If you were guaranteed that success and money were not an issue, what would you do with your life?

(6)  Do you feel trapped, or is there fulfillment in what you do? Can you see yourself there for the long-term or even the rest of your life?

(7)  When you look at how you are investing or have invested your time, energy and gifting, is this the best use of who you are? Is this as good as it gets for you?

Kingdom Investment of Your Life

It is important that, once you have discovered the particular gifts and abilities that God has given you, you examine whether you only use them to enjoy them or if you use them in ways that bring glory to Him.

(1)  Have you figured out how to take the best of who you are and invest it in God’s kingdom in such a way that it reproduces dividends that last for eternity?

(2)  Do you intentionally look for ways to take those gifts and abilities and use them in a way that other people can benefit from them?

(3)  Are you confident in taking the best of what God has given you and using it as widely as possible, or do you simply use it in formats that are comfortable for you?

(4)  Do you see ways that God would like to use you that you don’t feel confident doing now?

(5)  Are there times when you know that you’re supposed to do something but don’t have the courage or want to take the time to do it?

(6)  If you could be given one or two things that would help you take the best of who you are and invest it more completely, what would it be? Do you need courage, confidence, education, financial resources, empowerment, or someone to walk you through the process? Do you need a mentor, friend, spiritual director, or life coach? Do you need someone to pray with you and listen to you?

(7)  Think through any limitations that hold you back from investing the best of who you are. Begin to address those.

(8)  Interview several other people. Ask them ways they have seen God use you. Why did he use you in this way? Did it happen just once, or is there a pattern? Don’t overlook old friends, members of churches you have been a part of, family members and ministers you have known. They can help you with this.

Calling, Clarification, Leading, Direction

 There are three different types of calling:

The first type is the general calling to be holy as God is holy and to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s a general sense of leaving what you have to follow Christ completely.

The second kind of call comes to specific people, such as the disciples of Jesus, who were called to leave their locations and their livelihoods to follow Him completely with their time and receive financial support for their sustenance.

The third kind of call is a very specific one of which there are plenty of examples in the Bible: See the stories of Moses, Samson, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Saul of Tarsus. These individuals were singled out. They were often told that they had a purpose from before their birth. Their whole lives’ purpose was to fulfill a particular destiny or calling that God had for them. Be careful about assuming that this third type of call is normative. It does still happen today, but if we only have a dozen or so examples recorded in the Bible, then we know that their occurrence is somewhat limited.

The key aspect of calling is clarification. Am I being called by God to follow Him with the totality of my life? Or is it also with the totality of my time, whereby I leave my current vocation and take on a ministerial vocation where I am paid by kingdom finances and resources?

A second aspect of calling is leading. One can have multiple leadings over his or her lifetime, all of which will fit under some kind of vocational ministry. For example, I know a man who has been a pastor, a missionary a supervisor of a thousand missionaries, a denominational executive, a college professor, dean and president and ultimately, president of a denomination.

A final aspect is direction. Direction is, “Where do I live this out? What are some concrete ways to live out my sense of calling and leading? For example, if I am called to follow God completely and I am led to be a teacher, is God going to lead me in the direction of working with children, youth or adults? Is my work going to be spiritual development or also educational and academic development? Is it going to be at a college level or a graduate level? Is it going to be here in the United States or is it going to be overseas? Is it going to be in the urban core or is it going to be in suburbia or someplace in the heartland? As you look at your life, it is significant to clarify issues of calling, leading and direction.

(1)  Do you have a clear sense that God is leading you to resign from your career in order to use the full extent of your time and energies in serving Him?

(2)  If everyone is called to follow God completely, do you have a sense that He is asking you to follow Him with the totality of your life? Are you convinced that you would do that best by giving Him the totality of your time as well?

(3)  Do you have a sense that God wants you to stay in your career or location to serve Him? Or are you to leave behind that career or location and receive financial support from kingdom monies in order to follow Him completely with your time as well as your life?

Your Career

There are a number of assessments that are helpful in determining a job or career. A popular book written to help in this area is What Color Is Your Parachute? By Nelson Bolles. A detailed career assessment tool called IDAK is also extremely useful in helping you discover for what career or job you are most suited. (An IDAK assessment will take you approximately eight to ten hours.) Ask yourself the following questions:

(1)  What do I fantasize about?

(2)  What is my dream job?

(3)  What will bring me the most fulfillment?

(4)  How do I invest my life in a way that counts the most?

(5)  What are the outcomes of my life that I want to celebrate?

(6)  When I’m old and sitting on a porch in a rocking chair, looking back over my life, what do I want to have the greatest memories about?

(7)  When I near the end of my life, what will I wish I would have explored and gone for that I hesitated about and didn’t pursue?

(8)  What can I do in life that brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, satisfaction and peace that also makes a difference in the kingdom?

Getting There

Intentionality. Looking at your life purpose and intentionality with which you approach your life will really be the key to the fulfillment of your life plan. Begin to think in terms of how intentional and purposeful you are with your life, your giftedness and how you invest the best of yourself, your time and your resources each day. Look at your current situation and do some honest evaluation of where you are currently and how you arrived there.

(1)  How much of your life currently is a response to an intentional design or pattern of decision-making?

(2)  Do you feel particularly directed by God to this situation?

(3)  Have you been systematically discipled?

(4)  Has your spiritual development been, or is it now, an intentional direction?

(5)  How intentional have you been with spending time with God? With key friends in your life? With developing relationships with family?

(6)  In your spiritual life, have you sought to replicate your giftedness, reproducing it in other people so they can benefit from it?

(7)  Is your current life purpose and vocation something that has grown out of thoughtfulness and intentional development, or have you just happened to stumble into what you’re currently doing?

(8)  Do you thoughtfully dream and think about what your life is and could become or do you simply do what is required of you each day to get through it?

Other Key Questions to ask:

(1)  Have you participated in the intentional development of other people in your life?

(2)  Why did they choose you?

(3)  What did they see in you that they saw as either necessary or useful?

(4)  How did they impact you?

(5)  What’s been their ongoing influence in your life?

(6)  How has the influence changed your life?

(7)  How have you or can you pass that on to other people?

Proper Motives. Some people do the right things for the wrong reasons. To discover why you do what you do, it is important to regularly check your motives. The following are some key questions to as. Often nothing will show up. It is essential, however, that you do not try to answer these solely in your own mind, but that you have someone probe a bit into other aspects of why you do what you do. This should preferably be done with a mentor or an older, trusted friend with some wisdom who will ask you questions to clarify your purposes. A therapist’s help may even be beneficial. It’s important to note your idiosyncrasies here [a pastor or life coach can also be extremely helpful here].

(1)  Why are you the way you are? What are the life experiences and decisions that have formed you as the person you are becoming?

(2)  Why do you do what you do? Why is it important to you? What are the key motivational factors for you?

(3)  What criteria have you used to make decisions?

(4)  Do you do what you do for the right reasons?

(5)  Who benefits the most from what you do?

(6)  Are there any improper motives that need to be checked?

(7)  Is there any way that you are trying to fulfill your life plan in such a way that it will ultimately hurt, harm, limit or even destroy you or someone else?

(8)  What are your temptations to do things that will make you look better in the public eye? Do you take too much responsibility for how well you did? Do you give credit where credit is due?

(9)  Do you have any ‘dark-side’ temptations? Sexuality, addiction or addictive traits? (Again, to have a mentor, an older, wise friend or even a therapist [pastor or life coach] help you with these regularly is helpful).

(10) Who asks you tough questions about your motives? Who speaks truth to you? Who is someone in your life who can tell you that you have made a wrong decision and to whom you will listen?

(11) Do you have any patterns or tendencies to discredit people who do not agree with you? Do you discredit them or your opponents or do you take their advice and attempt to understand its implications for you?

Assessments help you create a personal profile of why you are the way you are and why you do the things you do. They will help you understand and see more objectively your preferences, the kind of person you are and God’s work in your life and help you figure out how to develop from there. In choosing assessments, it is crucial to look at personality, temperament, preference, vocational contexts and leadership management styles. Here is a short list of recommended assessments and the areas they assessment:

  • 16PF: Personality Profile
  • Uniquely You: DISC profile, temperament analysis, spiritual gift assessment and summary profile
  • IDAK: career assessment
  • LEAD: leadership style
  • Management Style Diagnostic Inventory: managerial style
  • Networking: complete spiritual gift analysis and spiritual gift profile

Focus. There is an old adage: “Very few people in life plan to fail; they just fail to plan.” This is a time to take a good look at your life and figure out what is holding you back and keeping you from fulfilling your life purpose. Ask yourself the following questions. You may also find it useful to pursue people in your life who will answer these questions for you.

(1)  How do you get a focus to your life?

(2)  What distractions in your life need to be addressed?

(3)  Are you a dabbler? Do you enjoy many things without focusing on one?

(4)  Do you have tendencies to over commit and do more things than you can do well?

(5)  Are you aware of the things you do best? Are you confident in them? Do they bring you a sense of satisfaction?

(6)  What are clutter issues in your life? Timing? Relationships? Emotional or spiritual deprivation needs?

(7)  If you were to ask the person closest to you, “What is the thing that keeps me from being successful or impacting others?” what would he or she highlight as the clutter that keeps you from experiencing success in your life?

(8)  What would that same person say was “good” in your life but was keeping you from doing your best?

(9)  How would the person who works closest with you but dislikes you answer the previous questions?

(10) If you take stock in your life today, assuming that the current pattern will continue for the rest of your life, will you be happy with the outcome?

(11) Is this the time for you to get a clearer focus and rid your life of some “stuff”?

Areas to Develop. Don’t forget that sometimes your greatest successes can become limitations. Sometimes you celebrate them too much and forget to keep a clear focus on priorities. Consider the three to five things in your life that you want to do most successfully and the values that drive you. Focus for a moment on any potential or perceived limitations to achieving your goal.

(1)  Do you take stock of your life in your emerging life plan?

(2)  What are the areas of your life that still need to be developed in order for you to fulfill this life dream, calling and life mission?

(3)  What areas need to be addressed with clear intentionality?

(4)  What areas of depth of wisdom, insight, relationship, spiritual understanding and understanding motivations that need to be developed?

(5)  Is there anything holding you back?

(6)  Have you let a minor setback keep you from experimenting or trying something else?

(7)  Have you focused too much on one strength without pursuing additional strengths to accompany it?

(8)  Have you simply become accustomed to what you do? Although you are comfortable in your current situation, is it possible that it’s not the best use of the totality of your strengths?

(9)  How do you maintain your passion?

(10)  How do you stay on the right road? How do you keep a clear focus and ensure that this isn’t another tangent or another “to do” in your life, but really the purpose, direction and focus of your life?

After you have done this assessment for yourself, find some other people to help you. Utilize friends, family members, counselors, pastors, life coaches, mentors and spiritual directors to ask questions like:

(1)  What are some areas in my life that are yet to be developed?

(2)  What are the developmental steps needed for me to develop them?

(3)  How do I move from where I am to actually fulfilling my life plan?

Future Dreams

As you look at future dreams, ask yourself the following questions. All of these come together to create a life plan for you. The goal is to invest the life you have been given in such a way that it creates the greatest impact on the kingdom of God and in eternity.

(1)  What else it there for me?

(2)  Is there one more big challenge? I there a mission or task that I need to undertake that I have nor yet done?

(3)  Is there something that no one else is doing that I can do?

(4)  What maturity and development do I need in order to be able to do it?

(5)  Do I have a unique perspective, calling or purpose in life that could be used in ways I have not thought of? In ways that perhaps others have not thought of, either?

(6)  What will be the lasting impact of my life? How can I begin to plan for it now?

(7)  What resources do I need in order to fulfill my missions(s)? People resources? Financial resources? Experiential resources?

A lot has gone into making you the person you are now. Some things you have just assumed, a few you have regretted. But they have all gone into making you the person you are today. Attempt to see your life with the greatest outcomes in view, and attempt to see your life from God’s perspective. He does have a dream for your life. He is on your side. He is working with you to accomplish it. May your life fulfill both your dream and His for you.

About the Author: Dr. Martin Sanders is a professor at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York. He also serves as president of Global Leadership, Inc. through which he develops leaders, national pastors and missionaries in over 30 countries. Dr. Sanders is married and has four adult children. He is the author of the highly recommended book The Power of Mentoring: Shaping People Who Will Shape the World. Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill, PA, 2004 from which the article above is adapted – Appendix 1 (pp. 173-187). He is has also written a very good book on the family entitled: How to Get the Family You’ve Always Wanted.

Senior Pastor – Are You Mentoring Your Associates? by Martin Hawkins

The Role of Mentoring Among Pastors

Perhaps the greatest contribution a senior pastor can make to the assistant position is to consistently disciple and mentor. He should mentor not only the intern who wants to learn how to become a senior pastor, or the intentional associate and unintentional pastor who will need to understand and tangibly fulfill his vision, but also the leadership in the church and the young men and women who will rise up to become disciple makers themselves one day. One of the greatest ways to find an associate who will fit in your church is to spend time mentoring and getting to know the young people with a heart for ministry.

As Paul stated to young Timothy, “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Good ministry—good leadership—involves multiplying one’s effectiveness through raising up new leaders to proclaim the gospel. The time that it takes to invest in the spiritual growth and training of others will be returned as they become able to carry some of the burden themselves.

Dennis Fields writes, “Training an associate is a learning experience for the senior pastor as well. He strengthens his communication skills as he teaches by word and example. The pastor may have forgotten some of the traits that served to make him successful, but as he imparts his knowledge and experience to the associate, he may rekindle fires of zeal. ‘as Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend’” (Prov. 27:17).

Senior pastors must make time to disciple their assistants. Some of the proof of Moses’ mentoring skills can be seen in Joshua’s success as he transitioned from assistant to leader. Evidently, in the first chapter of Joshua, Joshua was scared. God told him at least three times in chapter 1 to be strong and of good courage, indicating that Joshua was weak or faint of heart and God needed to encourage him. Perhaps Joshua didn’t feel up to the task. (Remember Moses’ earlier fear and protestations in this same situation?) We can imagine Joshua thinking, I don’t want to follow this man. He was a great leader. How can I measure up?

But Joshua had learned from his mentor. He didn’t question God’s appointment. And God responded favorably by bolstering him with words indicating that He would be in charge and would always be with Joshua.

Because Joshua recognized the magnitude of his responsibility toward God and his people, he came into this job with total dependence on God. He had no choice. And that’s what made him a great leader. He learned from Moses the necessity of depending on God, first as an assistant, yet even more so as the person in charge.

The other characteristic that shows both Moses’ mentoring skills and Joshua’s own leadership skills is Joshua’s understanding of his own design. Although he watched Moses, although he did everything that Moses showed him to do, he never tried to become Moses. And therefore, Joshua became just what God made him. He was the warrior, the military man, when the Israelites needed a warrior. Where Moses had been a theologian of sorts, Joshua was strictly a military man. We don’t see him coming up with much strong theology of any sort except at the end of his tenure when he told the people to make a choice. But “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

Although Joshua learned from Moses, they were different leaders. Joshua was quiet and reserved. He didn’t seem to get mad at the people for anything or get angry. He just took them through a military campaign. He was the leader whom God wanted for that particular time in Israel’s history.

The Art of Mentoring

The book of Acts gives us a detailed view of how Barnabas and Paul related in the ministry. Because of Paul’s great legacy through Scripture, Barnabas is often dismissed as a minor character in comparison. But, as I mentioned previously, he was an important person who mentored Paul and knew when to step aside to allow God’s plan to take effect.

Special note should be given to the name Barnabas. Known as “the Son of Encouragement,” Barnabas was used by God to befriend Paul, who was looked upon with skepticism by other believers. Paul needed the touch of a leader who could mentor or uphold him after his conversion. Barnabas, the consummate encourager, provided that touch.

For all practical purposes Barnabas became Saul’s mentor. Howard and William Hendricks describe special qualities one must have to be a mentor:

(1) He promotes genuine growth and change. The goal of every mentor should be the emotional, social, and spiritual growth of his protégé or the person he mentors.

(2) A mentor provides a model to follow.

(3) A mentor helps you to reach your goals more efficiently.

(4) A mentor plays a key role in God’s pattern for your growth.

(5) A mentor’s influence benefits others in your life.

Barnabas fulfilled every one of these characteristics as he groomed Paul for the ministry.

When Paul left Damascus for Jerusalem after his conversion, he struggled to reach the disciples. Barnabas did not stand idly by observing, but he found out about Paul, “took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). Barnabas stepped in and mediated the relationship between Paul and the apostles, moving it along to a relationship of trust sooner than Paul could have done by himself. Certainly Paul had a strength that defied all resistance to his preaching the gospel of Christ, but can you imagine how Barnabas’s actions and belief in his sincerity bolstered Paul’s spirit and resolve?

Barnabas seems to have always kept his eyes open for a ministry slot that would fit God’s calling on Paul’s life. After Barnabas had ministered in Antioch and discovered the environment, he didn’t stay and pine for a helper, and he didn’t pray for God to give Paul a similar ministry; instead, he left his post and sought out Paul in Tarsus (Acts 11:25). Barnabas had a special insight into Paul’s strengths, and he helped him to define and refine his gift of teaching by developing those who were in Antioch.

The Holy Spirit validated Barnabas’s insight into Paul’s calling by commissioning Barnabas and Paul to go on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1–2). During that trip, the leadership transfer occurred. The text begins to refer to Paul as Paul instead of Saul, and it is after Paul’s mighty sermon at Paphos that the text begins to refer to the pair as “Paul and Barnabas” rather than “Barnabas and Paul.” Paul gained top billing. He came into his own senior pastorate role.

Mentoring with Intimacy

Paul learned the importance of mentoring with a personal touch. Soon after splitting from Barnabas, Paul chose to guide young Timothy (Acts 16:1–3).

Throughout his ministry Paul discipled several assistant leaders, yet Scripture shows us in detail the personal touch of his communication with Timothy. In Acts 16:1–3, Paul is introduced to Timothy, who had a unique set of circumstances. Timothy’s mother was Jewish, but his father was Greek. Since Timothy was so well spoken of by the people in the area, Paul insisted that he be circumcised. Paul was intuitive to the Spirit’s leading by seeing in Timothy that he would be used in the gospel ministry. This relationship became more evident as he wrote to Timothy in his epistles known as the Pastoral Epistles.

Paul spoke as a father in 1 Timothy 1:2: “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” The term of endearment used here implies that Paul was responsible for mentoring Timothy in his spiritual growth and development. Verse 18 follows with Paul mentoring Timothy and using the term “my son,” which indicated the spiritual leadership role Paul assumed in Timothy’s life. As a father who expected refinement in his son, Paul knew Timothy, a spiritual baby, required this nurturing. Later in the same book, Paul is clear about his intent and lets Timothy know of his desire to be with him.

It is imperative for the future growth of the kingdom of God that senior pastors have a fond affection for young assistants in their congregations. A spiritual model must be seen long before it can be heard. Paul’s model of fatherly affection allowed him to grow Timothy in every area of his personality and character.

In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul’s intimacy increased. He was in prison, and his words were weighted with a sense of urgency. Paul greeted Timothy as “my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:2). In the second chapter he continued, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Paul also reaffirmed Timothy by stating, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5).

Senior pastors would do well to be specific yet personal in their affirmation of their assistants. Too often we hear horror stories about the division among staff ministers because of lack of proper personal attention. Paul’s lessons of encouragement, discipleship, fathering, mentoring, teaching, and admonishing is a dynamic model for senior pastors and assistant pastors to study.

I thank God for a relationship with Dr. Evans, my senior pastor, that allowed for my growth in literally every area of my life. Though I am chronologically older, Dr. Evans’s model of leadership inspires me to greater heights in Christ. This can be achieved only through an openness, at times, to be vulnerable with each other. Senior pastors need not stop to talk about it, but let the modeling emerge through daily events. Hospital visits, weddings, communion, funerals, speaking engagements, counseling couples, encouraging singles, Bible study preparation, and many other events provide natural times to mentor assistants. Though laborious, these times are laboratories and are also God’s cameos of what the assistant can do to lighten the load of the senior pastor. Pastors can seize these moments as God-structured times to train and mentor.

Mentoring with Humility

The senior pastor should mentor even the intern who is after his job. Even if a young assistant or a young intern bad-mouths you or says things about you that are not true, you still have the responsibility of making that person effective.

Look at Peter. The fallen one among Jesus’ disciples, Peter took the leadership of the church after the crisis. Even in death, Christ was discipling. And Peter began to espouse God’s plan. Do you see who Christ left at the head? The one who always had his foot in his mouth. He left the one who always appeared to be in the center of controversy. But Jesus recognized Peter’s potential and guided him to it.

Barnabas understood this concept. Following his heated discussion with Paul about John Mark’s dedication, Barnabas chose to leave Paul and take John Mark under his wing. Barnabas’s mentoring duties to Paul had been fulfilled. Now John Mark needed his special touch. Barnabas’s willingness to risk his reputation on the development of a young minister provided for John Mark the needed affirmation to ignite him into the responsibility of the gospel ministry. Once again, Barnabas fulfilled his name—Encourager.

Senior pastors must be able to see what God sees in developing the assistant. There are times when this is the only transmitter God uses to aid in the development of others. Barnabas’s approach to ministry was rare, yet needed. Vision for God’s kingdom must always include the discipling of those closest to you.

A Bountiful Journey

Assistant pastors are often forgotten as God’s people who need special attention. As a senior pastor, you are mentoring and discipling your congregation. You are ministering to your congregation’s needs and arranging for help to be available. Consider whether you are also exhibiting these qualities in how you relate to your staff.

A respondent to a survey about assistant pastors a few years ago wrote:

I believe I am just about in the best case scenario. The relationship and affinity of purpose-driven direction between the senior pastor and myself are paramount to creating this environment we enjoy. We are a perfect match. Second, the congregation’s high view of pastoral leadership has helped the environment. Third, when pastors who are competent leaders, who model biblical servant/ God direct ministry that is backed up by people accepting Christ and discipling people to become fully devoted followers of Christ, Satan will have problems getting a foothold.

The senior pastor should be an example of serving others, realizing that Philippians 2:3–5 requires him to see the quality of the associate’s position before God. Within the local body, most recognize that the senior pastor is often the higher person of authority. But from God’s viewpoint the persons are equal, with differing gifts and responsibilities expressed through serving one another and the congregation. Senior pastors who fail to see assistants as gifted servants will often tilt the vision of the congregation to misunderstand the pastoral support staff. On the other hand, openness about their respective callings can begin the journey of a fruitful relationship

Article excerpted and adapted from Hawkins, M. E., & Sallman, K. The Associate Pastor: Second Chair, Not Second Best. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005 (110–115).

What is Biblical Mentoring? By David P. Craig

Mentoring: What it is and Why it’s Practice is Crucial

Mentoring is a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” – Paul Stanley & J.R. Clinton

Discipling is a relational process in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus as Lord.” – Paul Stanley & J.R. Clinton

“A discipler is one who helps an understudy (1) give up his own will for the will of God the Father, (2) live daily a life of spiritual sacrifice for the glory of Christ, and (3) strive to be consistently obedient to the commands of his Master. A mentor, on the other hand, provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas—discipline, encouragement, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” – Ted Engstrom (The Fine Art of Mentoring)

Mentoring is a process of opening our lives to others, of sharing our lives with others; a process of living for the next generation.” – Ron Lee Davis

“If you are planting for a year, plant grain.

If you are planting for a decade, plant trees.

If you are planting for a century, plant people.” – Old Chinese Proverb

  • More time spent with fewer people equals greater lasting impact for God. – Principle of Mentoring from the Life of Jesus
  • Some Biblical Examples of Mentoring: Moses mentored Joshua, Naomi mentored her daughter-in-law, Ruth, Ezra mentored Nehemiah, Elijah mentored Elisha, Elizabeth mentored her cousin Mary. Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark, Paul mentored his spiritual son Timothy. Paul also mentored Priscilla and Aquila, who in turn mentored Apollos.

Mentor #1 – Who Is Your Paul or Elizabeth?

  • Do you have a spiritual mentor who is pouring his/her life into you the way Paul poured his life into Timothy or Elizabeth poured her life into her cousin Mary?
  • Do you have someone you can go to for wise counsel?
  • Do you have someone who is a godly example for you and a model worth imitating?
  • Do you have someone who lives out biblical values and spiritual maturity?
  • Do you have someone with solid skills that can help you improve where you are weak?

THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF A MENTOR

(Adapted from Ron Lee Davis, Mentoring, pp. 50-51, unfortunately out of print)

A willingness to spend the time it takes to build an intensely bonded relationship with the learner.

A commitment to believing in the potential and future of the learner; to telling the learner what kind of exciting future you see ahead for him or her; to visualizing and verbalizing the possibilities of his or her life.

A willingness to be vulnerable and transparent before the learner, willing to share not only strengths and successes, but also weaknesses, failures, brokenness, and sins.

A willingness to be honest yet affirming in confronting the learner’s errors, faults, and areas of immaturity.

A commitment to standing by the learner through trials—even trials that are self-inflicted as a result of ignorance or error.

A commitment to helping the learner set goals for his or her spiritual life, career, or ministry, and to helping the learner dream his or her dream.

A willingness to objectively evaluate the learner’s progress toward his or her goal.

Above all, a commitment to faithfully put into practice all that one teaches the learner.

“Be what you would have your pupils to be.” – Thomas Carlyle

“A mentor is not a person who can do the work better than his followers. He is a person who can get his followers to do the work better than he can.” – Fred Smith

“In truth, the deepest dimensions of the Christian life cannot simply be taught in a classroom or a book. They must be heard, seen, studied intently, handled, lived, and experienced in order to be proven and assimilated.” – Ron Lee Davis

Mentor #2 – Who is Your Barnabas?

  • Do you have someone in your life to encourage you?
  • Do you have someone to believe in you, support you, and guide you?

Encouragement: “is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough.” – Dr. Larry Crabb

“A person is never more like Christ than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten.” – Chuck Swindoll

Lessons From Barnabas:

1)    He was generous with his finances (Acts 4:32-37).

2)    He reached out to Paul when everyone else was skeptical about him (Acts 9:26-31 & 11:25-30).

3)    He spent time with Mark when he had failed (Acts 15:36-39)

The Results of Barnabas’ Encouragement:  If it were not for Barnabas we would not have Paul’s epistles nor Mark’s gospel; nor the rapid spread of the gospel.

 Four Key’s to Barnabas’ Life (Acts 11:24):

1)    He was a man of integrity.

2)    He was a man full of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26).

3)    He was a man full of faith.

4)    He was teachable. (Acts 13:43, 50)

#3 Mentoree – Who is Your Timothy or Mary?

  • Do you have someone in whom to invest your own life?
  • If married, you should look at your spouse, children, or grandchildren as “Timothy’s” or “Mary’s,” but is there anyone outside your family in whom you are investing?
  • You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others. –  2 Tim. 2:1-2

 What Mentoring is in a Nutshell?

Relational – The you in v.2 above refers to Timothy and the me refers to the Apostle Paul. People learn how to better love and follow Jesus in the context of a focused friendship.

Personal – The basics that Timothy learned from Paul were mediated through his unique personality, gifting, and style.

Theologically Grounded – Paul is faithfully delivering what he himself received from many witnesses or marturon (“martyrs”). In the first century a martyr denoted a public witness to the truth. The meaning of the word martyr into its present meaning is evidence that Christian truth-telling could be terminally costly. In the Greek the word entrust means making a secure run to the bank to deposit a treasure.

Intentional – All of us are involved in hundreds of unintentional relationships. However, in the case of Paul and Timothy we see a relationship that was established for a specific purpose.

Transformational – Mentoring involves study; reflection; action; and receptivity.

Reproducible who will be able to teach others.

 The Power of Multiplication

(adapted from Keith Philips, The Making of a Disciple, p. 23)

Year                        Evangelist                        Discipler

1                        365                                     2

2                        730                                    4

3                        1095                                    8

4                        1460                                    16

5                        1825                                    32

6                        2190                                    64

7                        2555                                    128

8                        2920                                    256

9                        3285                                    512

10                        3650                                    1,024

11                        4015                                    2,048

12                        4380                                    4,096

13                        4745                                    8,192

14                        5110                                    16,384

15                        5475                                    32,768

16                        5840                                    65,536

 

*Keith’s chart compares the numeric difference between one person coming to Christ a day and one person a year being discipled to maturity. Catch the vision and start making disciples now!

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