Category Archives: Mentoring

Smell Like Sheep

Having “grown up” in the church for most of my life, I can honestly say that I hadn’t given much thought about what an Elder should look like or act like. 

I mean, Elders were those old guys with sour looks on their faces, like they had been baptized in pickle juice, you know…they hung around in the shadows of the church building, coming forward to serve at the Communion Table and sit in those throne chairs left over from the Dark Ages. I never thought of them as “bad guys,” I just didn’t want to hang out with them.

You, too, may suffer from misconceptions about what the role of a biblical Elder is. Manmade traditions have clouded the clear call of God in this matter. To this end, allow me to summarize some thoughts from Dr. Lynn Anderson, president of Hope Network and author of the two volume work, “They Smell Like Sheep.

Elders are shepherds.

Which, is a good thing in light or Isaiah’s assessment of us when he wrote: “we all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” We need a shepherd who lives with us, walks with us, feeds, waters, protects us in a hands-on, personal manner.  A shepherd is simply there for the flock. A biblical Elder smells like sheep.

A shepherd is committed to the Lord, to the church, to the clear teaching of the Scriptures, and to the people entrusted to his care as an Elder.

A shepherd is trusted. They are followed because they have established that they can be trusted in the good times and the not-so-good times. Shepherds attract flocks through loving service and authentic relationships.

Elders are mentors.

While a shepherd tends the flock, a mentor pulls up along side individuals to model behavior, values, and faith through a shared life. Mentoring is pouring your life into someone else so they become more like Christ.  Mentors are models, not moguls lording it over anyone. Elders as mentors are not cowboys driving the herd, or sheriffs “enforcing the law.” Mentors who pour themselves into others often see things in the person they are mentoring that the person being mentored may not see in themselves.

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My spiritual mentor, Don Boswell, saw in me the potential to move out of that broadcast journalist mindset and into full-time ministry. 30 years later, I am still living out that vision Don cast before me, and loving every minute of being a minister of the Gospel of Christ.

Elders are equippers.

News flash: biblical Elders do not do all the work of ministry that needs to be done. They cannot do all of the work of ministry that needs to be done. As the flock grows, needs grow, and those needs outgrow the ability of a handful of Elders to handle. So, Elders need to follow the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13, and equip others for works of service.  This means that Elders must

  1. Delegate meaningful tasks to others.

  2. Search for the “right fit” for the tasks at hand.

  3. Train them with the skills necessary to accomplish those tasks.

Knowing this is what God expects from Elders, what is our responsibility to our Elders? I am so glad you asked.  I will offer some thoughts on that in my next post. Meanwhile, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.

Be God’s.

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Affirmation

My oldest son Elliott and I are currently reading Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. Yeah, there are three links in my last sentence, and you should check them all out! Every chapter in this book grabs me, stomps on my toes, and/or has me standing and cheering “YESSSSSSSSS!”

satan does not deserve the respect or the credit of having his name capitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence. Now, I understand that many folks want to give him more credit than he deserves, but satan is a wimp. He is a liar, a braggart, a self-deceived and self-deceiving cast out from heaven.  Now, I understand satan can be stronger than we humans can be, and I understand folks fear satan for what he can do in their lives. However, those people are allowing satan to hold that power over them. I refuse to do so.

I am not claiming that satan does not wage war against me every day.  He does.  I am simply saying that I call him out for what he is: a spineless, wimp of a wannabe god. I recognize that satan does indeed have power to wield, but I will battle that power with the superior power of God’s Word and God’s people in my life.

I have spent much of this week drawing closer to God, while expressing my pure hatred for death.  Death was not part of God’s original design, but satan helped facilitate death’s entrance into the world when he enticed Adam and Eve to sin. God is the Father of Life, while satan is death’s daddy. I long for the day of Christ’s return when those who are in His Kingdom, those who are His Bride, go to be in His presence forever, and when death is told to “go to hell.”

Meanwhile, I want to encourage those who are doing their best to follow Christ daily to resist satan and to draw closer to Jesus. I want to remind us that satan holds no power over us unless we give him that power. Instead, let us draw from the mighty power of our Heavenly Father by spending quality and quantity time in the Bible, in prayer, and in doing life together with fellow believers.

Time in the Bible

Use the reading plan that best fits you.  I have, for the past couple of decades, read the One Year Bible plan. You get a does of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs every day. Last year, as readers of this blog know, I added an immersion into Colossians in my daily reading.  This year, Peggy and I are immersing ourselves in 1 Peter as our couples devotion. I personally love the Bible App from YouVersion. Others prefer to use a Bible from their bookshelf. Whatever. I just cannot over emphasize the importance of daily immersing yourself in God’s Word.

Time in prayer.

I use desconsos to help remind me of prayer matters. My wedding ring reminds me to pray for Peggy. Grinding Juan Valdez Café reminds me to pray for Dale and Jeanie Meade and the Colombian Christian Mission, a glasses-wearing flower sticker reminds me to pray for Francesca Rodriguez. I have desconsos reminding me to pray for my kids, my grandkids, the folks at Vero Christian Church, the lost in our community, etc. I have dedicated times of intensive prayer, and I have an attitude of prayer through the day.  I am not a master of prayer by any means. I consider myself a novice but I work to make prayer a discipline in my life every day.

Time doing life together with fellow believers.

I disciple a couple of different men right now. I am in a Life Group. I lead two different praise teams at our church. I LOVE the time I get to hang out with Peggy. Well, you get the picture. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Christian,” and it is important to surround yourself with believers for encouragement and accountability.

I pray that this post is an affirmation for you. Don’t give satan credit he doesn’t deserve, but don’t think that you can overcome his schemes on your own. He knows you weaknesses, and will attack in those areas.  What are some ways you counter those attacks? I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Be God’s.

Discipling On Purpose

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In my previous post, I discussed the fact that God expects His followers to mentor someone else.  Mentoring, or discipling, for the context of this post will be defined as one Christian helping another Christian love Jesus more so that they both become more like Jesus. (I will use the terms discipling and mentoring interchangeably.) Discipling on purpose, therefore is designed to help a fellow believer become more loving. It is designed to help both the mentor and the one being mentored become more like Jesus.

To mentor means doing life with and making yourself vulnerable to someone.

To accomplish this goal, I want to focus on three aspects of Discipling on purpose.

  1. It requires authentic relationship.  Mentoring or Discipling requires more than a teacher-student interaction.  Yes, there is teaching to take place. However, without relationship, the transferring of facts is going to be all that takes place, and that falls woefully short of the goal of making Disciples of Jesus.  There are plenty of folks with head knowledge about Jesus who do not live like Jesus and who do not love like Jesus. If we are truly mentoring someone, it needs to take place in the context of authentic relationship.  That means I have to “get real” with the person I am discipling. They will see the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of me.  It is uncomfortable for most people, and I believe it is a key inhibitor to true Discipleship. Sharing your “deep, dark secrets” means that you are not going to come across as perfect.  I have news for you: everyone already knows that you aren’t perfect.  Only Jesus is perfect, and you ain’t Jesus! You must be willing to let the person you are mentoring “in.” To mentor means doing life with and making yourself vulnerable to someone.

  2. It requires doing life together. That is more than a time when you meet with the person you are discipling to study together.  Those times are important, but so are the times when you are dining together, playing together, and serving together. THOSE are the times when you get to know each other on a deeper level.  That is where the rubber meets the road stuff. Relationship outside of a “classroom setting” leads to a much stronger bond.  Jesus didn’t take His 12 Disciples and sequester them in a classroom setting.  They traveled together, ate meals together, served together, all the while Jesus was pouring Himself into them. We mentors need to pour ourselves into the folks we are mentoring. Remember, to mentor someone is to take them where you have already gone. As Dr. Lynn Anderson says, “Mentors pull alongside human beings and model behavior, values, and faith through shared life.” 

  3. The ultimate goal is to be more like Christ. That should be the ultimate goal of every individual Christ-follower and it certainly is the goal of discipling on purpose.  We need to remember that mentoring is of eternal importance.  The ONLY thing that will matter 100 years from now is your relationship with Christ. The only thing that will matter 100 years from now in your discipling relationship is that disciple’s relationship with Christ. I am challenged (and a little frightened) to echo the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he said, “follow me as I follow Christ.”  That should be the creed for everyone who dares to mentor someone else in the name of Jesus.  That should be the goal for every discipling on purpose relationship! If I am not closer to Christ in my personal walk now than I was a year ago, how could I possibly dare to disciple someone on purpose? A mentor can only take someone where they have already gone.

Bearing these three points in mind, what do we need to do to disciple on purpose? Pray that God leads you to the person He wants you to disciple. Prepare by studying God’s Word so you can effectively teach. Put yourself out there by being authentic and vulnerable.

A mentor can only take someone where they have already gone.

For those who are discipling others, what advice would you add here? For those interested in becoming a mentor, what other questions would you ask here? I would love to continue the conversation with you in the comments section below.

Be God’s.

 

Mentoring One Another

A photo by Luke Porter. unsplash.com/photos/1DDFLlCz42k

You can cannot lead people where you have not gone.

I will confess that discipleship/mentoring is a major part of my “job” at Vero Christian Church, so this is where I live. As such, having the privilege of re-reading Dr. Lynn Anderson‘s book, “They Smell Like Sheep” as I mentor someone these days is pure joy for me.  It also challenges me and shames me for not doing a better job in communicating the importance and the practice of mentoring.

As such, let me share just a couple of truths regarding mentoring one another, and let me encourage all of us to engage in mentoring.

Dr. Anderson asserts two serious principles which I want to address:

  1. God expects all of us to mentor others to some degree. – THAT is an expectation that should challenge and frighten us at the same time.  God EXPECTS me to mentor others?  Yeah, but I am not sure what that looks like.

  2. The modern-day church shouts the need for godly men and women to serve as spiritual mentors. – We understand that nature abhors a vacuum. I would say that there is a vacuum when it comes to proper mentors in the church in general these days.  In discussion about that matter this morning, a guy I am mentoring hit the nail on the head as to why that is so:

Too many of us are afraid to open ourselves up, make ourselves vulnerable to others for fear of them seeing our flaws…our sin. We want to come across as strong, as perfect and to mentor someone means getting in there and doing life with them to the point that the superficial facade that we like to put up crumbles in the light of reality. If God expects us all to mentor others, and if the church is shouting for the need for godly men and women to mentor, then it is incumbent on us to (and this is NOT a comprehensive list):

  • Do a heart check. Be a person after God’s own heart. Let your deepest motivations and passions be for God and for mentoring God’s people (by the way, God’s people are both Christians and non-Christians…God is for people, and you should be, too).

  • Get over the fear of being vulnerable to someone else. Open our life up to one person (and to a group of people in a Life Group), and “get real” with them.

  • Be authentic in your walk with Christ. Yeah, that IS related to being vulnerable. People need to know that you are REAL, that your faith is working for you, that you are a person of integrity.

  • Study to show yourself approved as one who correctly handles the Word of God. Share what you have learned and how you apply that to your life.

  • Remember that character matters. Be a person of character.  Be faithful, because faithfulness is character lived out.

  • Do the hands-on modeling for the person or persons we mentor to be able to follow.  We must make what we are doing scaleable and reproducible. It may come as a shock to you, but that is what Jesus did as He mentored the 12 Apostles, His inner circle of three guys, and the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

  • Be ready to invest significant time into the person(s) you mentor.  I often refer to mentoring/discipleship as the “crock pot solution to a microwave problem.” Mentoring is not completed in a day, or a week, or even a year. I don’t see a completion date when it comes to mentoring.  Oh, the frequency of meeting may (and will) change, but doing life together means just that: doing LIFE together.

Bottom line is this: to mentor someone, you must love God with a wild abandon, and you must love people the way God loves them.  You must invite them to follow you as you follow Christ, and you need to always remember that you cannot lead people where you have not gone.

Next time, I will examine “discipling on purpose.” For these discussions, I will use the terms discipling and mentoring interchangeably. Bear with me as I continue prayerfully considering this crucial topic of making disciples for Jesus.

What would you add to my list regarding mentoring?  I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Be God’s.