Mentors. Something every leader and pastor needs. It should not be optional, or thought about haphazardly. Mentors should be in place in the same way a building has a foundation, or else the same things will happen to you as to a building without one… collapse.
However, some leaders I speak to have a vague understanding that there is a vast difference between a mentor and a friend, even a close friend. When looking for mentors, factors such as experience, personal involvement, forwardness, love, and passion should be heavily considered. It is also imperative that you find several different mentors for different areas of your life and ministry. Most likely, no one person can help you in all these areas.
Actually, a leader should have multiple mentors, and here are three I believe to be of utmost importance:
This should be obvious, but the reality is most pastors do not have a spiritual mentor. (And, no, reading an Andy Stanley book does not make Andy Stanley your spiritual mentor!) In my life, I have had the same spiritual mentor for over 14 years. A spiritual mentor will be the person you turn to for prayer, correction, advice on scriptural matters, and Godly wisdom. This person must care deeply about you, and your continuing relational development with Jesus.
This is not about church growth. This is the person you turn to for the development of you as a leader. This person should be willing to challenge you in your reading, learning, and then application of leadership training. This person should challenge you on how well you lead your home, your staff, and yourself. This person usually provides suggested readings followed by discussion. They may sit in on their staff meetings (or you in theirs), and they usually observe your leadership and provide coaching.
Organizational Health Mentor
If you are a pastor, this is the person that will focus on the health of your organization, thus the growth of your church. That’s because focusing on the health of your church, not the gimmicks, will create true sustainable growth. With this person, your ability to be completely transparent will be a non-negotiable. If you are not true with your numbers, growth patterns, statistics, etc., you are simply wasting time. When learning from this type of leader some key components must be in place.
- Do you share the same view of ministry?
- Are they where you want to be?
- Is this someone you would spend considerable time with?
We can have all the right mentors in place, but it will do absolutely no good without one very important facet from you: Are you willing to submit? These mentors are charged with accountability, correction, and a myriad of other things that are vital to your growth. The submission to these mentors will be the key ingredient, and one that will ultimately be on you.