Hopefully when mentoring becomes a more established norm for pastors, a standard term will evolve. Until then, we will continue to use awkward terms like protégé, mentee, or disciple to refer to people being mentored by an older and/or more experienced person.
Mentoring is already the established norm in Scripture, even though the term is never used there. Moses prepared Joshua to fill his sandals, Elijah walked Elisha through the paces of a prophet, and Paul wrote the pastoral epistles for Timothy, Titus, and other pastors he was equipping.
Even though the Bible has a lot of examples like these of mentoring, it does not articulate a clear game plan on how to pull it off. When pastors don’t know what to do, they typically freeze up and do nothing. I am praying that this post will inspire you to take your first few steps toward mentoring.
Initiate a Casual Meeting
Online dating is something I have never experienced before in like and Christian walk. I have talked to several singles that use these popular sites to save time, money, and heartache on the sometimes painful process of dating.
Should we, if possible to create a mentoring matchmaking service that will save lots of time and energy! Just in case that doesn’t happen it won’t, take a non-committal first step of sharing a breakfast, cup of coffee, sandwich or lunch. Wait until after your first meeting to determine whether God is leading you to invest in that person regularly.
Help Them Find the Way
I can’t tell you how many times I have made the mistake of leading without first listening. After carefully listening to what this younger leader’s greatest challenges are, help him/her overcome one of those particular challenges.
One church planter I am mentoring asked me to give him feedback on his sermons because he is relatively new at preaching. Sometimes mentees need equipping, and sometimes they simply need encouragement. A mentor is both an encourager and equipper; a coach, uncle, even father figure – depending on the age dynamic. You don’t need to be a genius to help someone through the challenges that arise in life, home, or church.
Add Them on Your Calendar
I suspect that most pastors do not initiate mentoring relationships because they already have too many people who need them. I understand and respect that concern, but also want to assure you that you will experience more of a charge than a drain from mentoring. By the way, Our Lord Jesus preached and taught many, some five thousand and some four thousand that followed him or come to him but he only mentored twelve young men and called them his disciples and later appointed them to the office of Apostleship. Before He left entrusted unto this same young men his mission on earth.
I do not have a standard schedule for all of my mentoring relationships. I would suggest you put them on your calendar settable to be faithful and connect with each of them; either monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly get together.
Have Realistic Expectations
Young pastors need someone to love them unconditionally “in season and out of season.” Mentoring is not the same as counseling, so if you discover that your mentee needs medical or clinical help, you may need to leave mentor-mode and go into triage-mode. I’m not trying to get you off the hook as much as I am trying to get that pastor the right kind of help.
My pastor Fathers in the faith did a great job of parenting me, but they thankfully did not try to be my doctor or dentist. These rich relationships are not always easy to find or quick to take root. Know that you can customize your mentoring menu based on the particulars of each relationship.
See the End from the Beginning.
We first meet young Timothy in Acts 16 when Paul stops in Lystra to pick him up on his second missionary journey (Acts 16). Paul initially addresses him as his son in the faith (1 Tim. 1:2). After Timothy has became a seasoned pastor, Paul referred to him as my fellow worker (Rom. 16:21), brother and coworker (1 Thess. 3:2). As with Barnabas, Paul’s mentoring relationship with Timothy evolved into a peer relationship.
I experienced that with my childhood pastor. Like Timothy, Titus, and John Mark I went from being son in the ministry to a peer. Today he now calls and introduce me his colleagues in ministry.
My Pastor friend, who sees mentoring as a discipleship strategy, he once said, “The discipleship process is not complete until the mentee becomes the mentor or the player becomes the coach”. I hope this post encourages you to make room in your life for a younger pastor or leader to mentor.