cross

Making the most of Mentors: Some brief thoughts on how to have a proper mentoring relationship

Mentoring is 20620796_10212740897253354_8047508259673876878_nextremely important in Christian ministry, but it’s worth is not appreciated as it should be. To have a mentor is to be blessed, and any mentoree (what I call someone who is being mentored) should work diligently to make the mentoring relationship viable. It’s important to handle mentoring relationships properly to get the most out of them and to bring glory to God. Here are some things I think will help…

  1. Listen, listen, listen

There is nothing more important in a mentoring relationship than the mentoree simply closing his mouth and opening his ears. Not listening in a mentoring setting is akin to a car with no tires; it’s pretty much useless.  The objective in a mentoring setting is for the mentoree to learn as much as possible from his mentor, and use what you learn for the glory of God in the ministry God has assigned you to.  But if you talk more than listen, you nor the people you will minister to in the future will profit from years of knowledge and experience of your mentor.

Often mentorees want to impress their mentors with their knowledge.  Don’t let that be you! Let your mentor be a mentor; don’t use him as an ego builder for yourself. Remember, this relationship is not about you, it’s about you being equipped better to make much of Jesus and to point people to him.

If your mentor is equipped to be a mentor, let him do the talking; if he’s not, find another one who is and listen.

  1. If you must talk, ask questions

If you can’t resist the urge to talk, then at least let your talk be in the form of questions.  Ask your mentor questions often and listen intently to his answers. Questions are a wonderful way to find out who people are, where they have been, what they have done, and the why to all the former. Questions get people talking and lets the person know you genuinely care about what they think.

In a ministry mentorship you should ask questions in the following areas:

Call to ministry, Family, Gifts, Theology, The Church, Conflict, Burnout, Humbleness, Etc.…

Asking your mentor questions in these areas is like opening a treasure cove of ministry knowledge… don’t allow it to go untapped. Even if you already know what the answers to your questions will be, it’s incredible discipline to ask and simply listen.

  1. Observe

Observing your mentor in everyday ministry is priceless. You must observe him as he interacts with his family, friends, public, and church family. The wealth of knowledge and insight you will gain from these interactions can save you from a plethora of mistakes and missteps, and help you gain trust with the people you minister to.

Observe him as he deals with an irritated or frustrated church member in a business meeting or someone who drops by his office and asks for money. Observe him as he engages a server as you eat lunch together and as he stops to chat with a group of seniors. Observe him as he kneels down to spend time with a little child to show them they are important.

Again, the lessons you can learn from this observation is beyond priceless and simply cannot be learned in seminary. Never overlook the little things that a mentor does; everything he does is a lesson in how to do ministry.

  1. Respect their years of ministry and life

You may be super duper over the top brilliant and the greatest theological mind since the apostle Paul himself, but that is not the end all.  You must know how to use that knowledge in a manner that brings glory to God, not yourself, and doesn’t make much of yourself but points people to Jesus.

Unfortunately I’ve seen young men in ministry abuse their God given intellect by thinking they’ve got it all figured out and the old guys are just, well…old. While that may be true, every old guy has seen a lot, and often forgotten more than you will ever know. DO NOT BE A “KNOW IT ALL”! Be humble, listen, ask questions, observe, and respect the years of experience that God has providentially blessed your mentor with.

You can learn something from everyone, even if they’re not on the same theological level you are on. A good theological mind is a must in ministry, but do not overlook the experience of someone who has loved God and served Him in the trenches for years.

I have seen this scenario many times in ministry; someone is saved as a teenager; goes to Bible college immediately after high school; then directly to seminary, and begins pastoring a church. Oftentimes they have never had a job that required a lot of physical labor or much of what many church members must face on a daily basis. Then they get frustrated at church members because they simply do not understand what people endure. This is where a good, experienced mentor can help. Most have been around and understand what people bear day in and day out, and if you listen, ask, observe, and respect their ministries it will make things much easier for you and keep you from many ministry calamities!

  1. Pray for them/thank God for them

Finally, the greatest thing you can do as a mentoree is to pray for your mentor and thank God for them. I have been immensely blessed with men who have poured  their lives into me and have invested countless hours mentoring me and teaching me about biblical ministry. I am indescribably indebted to them. Anyone who has a mentor is blessed and should show they’re gratefulness by praying for them and thanking God for them.

May God continue to raise up godly mentors, as well as wise mentorees who will use the mentoring relationship for the glory of God and the good of His church.

One generation shall commend your works to another,

    and shall declare your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4

Advertisements
Categories: bible, biblical, Christians, cross, God, Gospel, grace, Jesus, mentor pastor preach, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heavenly Affections

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

(Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

I’ve grown so weary of bad news.  Day after day thousands of news outlets pour all their efforts into reporting tragic happenings; from images of flag-draped caskets to flooded streets and water rescues.  Video footage from drought stricken countries, war-torn nations, community violence, and school shootings have become commonplace and we’re barely even moved by the reports. It seems as if it never ends and certainly never gets better…especially if you’re a pastor.

Pastors often hear the worst things.  In counseling sessions, people pour out their hearts.  I will say this, nothing surprises me any more…nothing.  In nearly 25 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve learned that people endure horrendous and tumultuous events; and many on a regular basis.  I hear of financial failure, ruined relationships, bizarre addictions, and the list goes on… It never ceases.

Then there’s the video I saw today, of the little boy in Syria whose home was destroyed by a bomb.  He sits in the back of an ambulance, dirty, disoriented, and wiping blood off his forehead.  It was such a sad and sickening sight.

Sin is everywhere, and like a snail that leaves a slimy trial, or a tornado that leaves utter destruction in its path, sin devastates.  I’m sick of the result of sin.  I’m sick of it in my life, the life of my family, the life of the people I shepherd, and it’s far reaching effect throughout the whole of humanity.  In one sense, sin is the mother of disaster; where sin abounds, disaster thrives.  I am simply tired of it all.  The more suffering I see, the more I can be identified with Romans 8:19…

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

In other words, I long to see Jesus.  I long for the day when creation will be restored.  I long for the day that is described in the book of Revelation,

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)

Sure, there’s a lot I want to do, a lot of gospel I want to preach, but the more I see this world, the more I want to see Jesus.  David felt the same many years ago when he wrote,

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

(Psalm 63:1, ESV)

A “dry and weary land” gives you great thirst.  For those who are alive in Christ, he is consistently and perfectly creating a disdain in us for the things of this world and ever increasing our desire for him, to be realized ultimately in his presence.  Come Lord Jesus…

IMG_2040

Categories: bible, biblical, Brother, Christians, cross, Glory, God, Gospel, grace, Jesus, king David, sin, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Proper response to Christian Persecution

On Sunday, June 28th, 2015, I preached a sermon regarding Christian persecution from the book of 1 Peter.  In part the sermon was in response to a ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) which was reported by CNN like this,

In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory.
(http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/politics/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling/)

This ruling sparked what many would consider an avalanche of freedom for people to be vocal, act on, and even celebrate things that beforehand would have been considered immoral, and helped to solidify an anti-Christian sentiment in America.
Many pulpits across America were filled with preachers/pastors decrying the ruling, stating biblical standards for marriage, and generally helping their people understand what Scripture says about marriage.  I also stated what the Bible clearly says about marriage.  From the Old Testament to the New, it’s clear that marriage is between one woman and one man for life, or as John Piper unmistakably says it,

Marriage is created and defined by God in the Scriptures as the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life-long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.
(http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/let-marriage-be-held-in-honor-thinking-biblically-about-so-called-same-sex-marriage)

I also stated that I respect someone much more if they simply say they disagree with Scripture instead of trying to justify it through Scripture, especially when Scripture is so crystal clear on the matter.  But I was “preaching to the choir”!  The folks I pastor already know what Scripture says regarding marriage and so called, “same sex marriage”.  But there was an overarching issue in the midst of SCOTUS ruling, and all of the reaction that the church in America, at least in my opinion, has not been prepared for; that is the issue of how to respond such rulings, and furthermore, how to respond to persecution in general.

I am convinced that the church has had the reigns in America for so long that the entire idea of persecution is foreign to us.  Sure, we hear about it in other places, in foreign lands, and we pray for those believers as they face incredible obstacles while striving to live out their faith in Jesus, but the idea that American believers will face persecution for their faith is almost more than we can fathom! But more and more, with each passing week and with each passing law that is blatantly contrary to Scripture, Christian persecution (to one degree or another) is an ever developing reality.  Therefore, we as the church must be prepared to respond properly in a post-Christian America that not only disagrees with a Christian worldview but actually celebrates, revels in, and sanctions a thoroughly secular and flesh driven worldview.  So my purpose in this lengthy blog is to point us to Scripture in order for the church to respond properly, or rather “suffer well” for the glory of God. 

1. Don’t be surprised by what is happening.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you
 (1 Peter 4:12).

Why are we shocked when people attack us simply because we profess faith in Jesus? The Bible says repeatedly that believers will be ill-treated:

2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18; Matthew 5:44; 1 John 3:13; Luke 6:22; Matthew 5:10; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; Mark 13:13; Matthew 10:22; Mathew 5:11, and the list goes on…

Whether we have watered down the doctrine of Christian persecution in order to make Christianity more palatable, are focused on a so-called prosperity gospel, or any number of other reasons, by in large our churches have not been taught to expect persecution, and now that it has become a reality we are taken aback by it.  Much like the man who decided to become a boxer; he hired a trainer, worked tirelessly in the gym for months, and scheduled his first bout.  When the bell rang, signaling the start of the fight, he ran to the middle of the ring and started dancing around when suddenly his opponent hit him squarely on the nose, nearly knocking him down!  He then ran to his corner where his trainer was coaching him and with great surprise yelled, “He hit me!?!?”  Unfortunately that’s how the church too often responds to persecution!

Bottom line…as a Christian living in what has become a post Christian country, DO NOT be surprised when you are persecuted for/because of your faith in Jesus…rather, expect it!

2.  Rejoice that you are being reviled because of Christ.

Verses 13 and 14 say,

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
There is a reason that some people are persecuted… now mind you, this is not the case for everyone, but for those who simply lift up the name of Jesus, you will be persecuted and you are blessed because of it.  Why? Because the Spirit of God rests upon you…and that is a privilege!

3.  Don’t suffer for dumb stuff!

Verse 15,
 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

There is enough to keep the Christian busy in this world by simply dealing with anti-Christian sentiment produced by our profession of faith in Christ and holy living…suffering well, for the glory of God should be the only thing we suffer for.  Suffering for dumb stuff like sin is a complete waste of time, energy, and testimony. DON’T DO IT!
4.  Don’t be ashamed of suffering, but glorify God during it.

Verse 16,

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

So, there is a reason you have been reviled, scoffed at, mocked, belittled, etc… It’s an opportunity to glorify God!  You must understand what is happening here.  When persecution comes, step back, put the wide angle lens on, and get the big picture.  God is bringing glory to Himself through our dependence upon Him in the midst of persecution and the spread of the gospel in the midst of persecution. 

5.  Respond to persecution properly.

Verse 19,

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

There are two extremely important truths that we must glean from this passage…The first is, TRUST GOD!  There’s no other way to endure persecution or to suffer well.  When we don’t trust God through it we will become extremely frustrated and even angry, which brings no glory to God or peace to us.  On the other hand, when we trust God in the midst of persecution He is glorified and we are satisfied.

The second truth is, CONTINUE TO DO THE RIGHT THING! When we as believers are in the midst of persecution it’s easy to become side-tracked… But we simply cannot afford to do that! Keep your eyes on the crucified Christ and continue to live a life that is surrendered to him.

Finally:
Here are a few things that we can expect to see when the church is persecuted:

·        – Regardless of how great America was/is, our faith is not in a nation, but in God alone.

·         –Expect to see theologically shallow churches scatter.

·         –Expect to see gospel-centered churches rise to the top.

·         –Expect to experience God’s grace, mercy, and glory more than ever before.

·         –All of this gives us a great hunger for Heaven and Jesus.

·         –Use this as a divine opportunity to make Jesus known

Categories: 1 Peter, bible, cross, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, persecution, same sex, suffer well, supreme court, trust God | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: