A message from Dave:
“Leaders mentor, or leaders fail. Embedded in the Great Commission is the call to train and multiply – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. (Matt. 28: 19-20) The future of the church depends upon leaders devoted to reproducing what they have received, and doing it with growing skill.
If you’re wondering what growing skill looks like, listen to my friend Tim Kerr as he draws upon some lessons he’s learned from 33 years of mentoring.”
The following article was written by Tim Kerr.
I have been asked to share some of the lessons I have learned over these 33 years of mentoring businessmen and pastors. To be honest, I think I have learned more through my failures than any success God has given. So here are some of the core lessons I have discovered over the years that have helped me when I mentor others:
1.) The gospel drives everything. Just as we enter the Christian life through faith and repentance in Christ, we live out our Christian life through faith and repentance in Christ (see Rom 6:11-13).
2.) Action plans and clever strategies for change, as helpful as they are, can never replace the absolute necessity of a “renewed mind” and transformed habits (Rom 12:2) that comes from consciously contemplating God’s amazing gospel mercies! (Rom 12:1) Two wonderful ways to do this is to daily ask oneself these two questions:
3.) Pastors and the church’s most faithful people are usually cared for the least. Yet they are the most essential people to mentor because they are the multipliers.
4.) Don’t try to unravel & understand all the problems of the past—rather, take people from their broken past to a grace-filled future (i.e. Jesus with the woman at the well- John 4:17-18)
5.) We discover people’s true commitment to big change by testing them with small assignments (Luke 16:10). Mini-assignments discover time-wasters very quickly.
6.) We can only give away what we have. If the fire has not lit my own little stick of wood, my stick will never be used to light others (I must live what I teach, for it to be effective).
7.) Jesus had perfect wisdom and taught with perfect accuracy and with the fullest measure of the Holy Spirit and yet people still rejected his words. Mentoring failures are not always because we lacked enough wisdom or insight.
8.) Learn to address sin “incidents” (one time occasional failures) and sin “patterns” (habituated sins) in different ways because they act on the soul very differently.
9.) Humbly make “observations” about what you are seeing. Guard against the pride of making premature “conclusions “ (i.e. judgements). Always ask many questions (Prov 18:13). A key truth for marriages! Its much easier to steer a ship with wind in its sails than simply to row a boat under our own power. So also the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential in mentoring!
10.) It is essential that people learn wisdom if they are to ever be mature in the faith. Life is not simply a set of black & white options. There are multiple grey areas of life that need case-by-case wisdom (& prayer) to solve. This is especially true in relationships with others.
11.) Change may be powerfully begun by one-to-one encounters (1 Thess 2:12) but in the end it must be lived out in community with others. We all have a spiritual back that we never see when we look in the mirror of the word. We need others to show us what is hidden from us (both hidden sins and hidden grace). Without the local church, mentoring will fail.
12.) Being practical and specific is vital, but if we neglect the theology that propels all true application, we will end up with anorexic spiritual lives focused on high output (application) with minimal input (truth-feedings).
Theology is just another word for truth and truth is what takes us to Christ (John 5:39)! To focus exclusively on practice & to neglect the theology that propels it, amounts to neglecting Christ and only emphasizing our responsibility for change.
13.) We need the 3 elements of truth, love and power combined or we will fail. Mentoring with truth alone gives good direction but it can be impersonal (the program rather than the true needs sets the agenda). Mentoring by relationship alone conveys care but eventually stalls for lack of direction. Mentoring by power alone gives experiences that cannot be tested by Scripture and leads to deception and disillusionment. But all three together are life transforming! (Eph 4:15 & Matt 22:29 & 1 Cor 4:20)
14.) What people think is their main problem is rarely the true problem. Scripture, prayer and wise questions help get to the root! (Jer 17:9).