I have written in the past about the importance of making disciples through mentoring. To be frank, though, I don’t know a lot of pastors who prioritize this work – though I am beginning to see more who are at least considering it. Those who are doing it have often been doing it for a long time, and here are some of their characteristics:
- They were early adopters of this approach. “Early adopter” is, of course, relative, since mentoring has been around a long, long time. My point is that these pastors often began intentional mentoring when few other pastors were doing it. They were discipleship pioneers in a North American culture that had long forgotten what mentoring was.
- They are continually praying for someone to invest in. They have their current mentees, but they’re always watching for others. They pay attention to how other believers walk with the Lord, and they watch for faithfulness and fruitfulness. They just want to obey the Lord in choosing the right mentees.
- They particularly want to invest in others considering a call to ministry. It is not that they’re unwilling to invest in other faithful members, but they want to steward their time and energy most wisely. By investing in some who will likely invest in others in the decades to some, they’re multiplying their efforts.
- They hold the bar high for their mentees. I’ve seen some of these leaders ultimately weed out less committed mentees by expecting more out of them than they had ever previously experienced. If these pastors are going to invest their time and energy in someone, they expect that person to be committed to their mutual goals of discipleship.
- They don’t worry about accusations of favoritism when they choose mentees. Others might charge them with such, but they know better. They choose mentees under the Lord’s guidance, and they raise expectations so high that some folks would not be interested in being their mentee. Favoritism is seldom a motivating factor for these leaders.
- Their approach to mentoring is much more than simple life-on-life “let’s have conversations and hang out.” The latter approach can be productive, but these pastors mentor much more intentionally and strategically. They expect their mentees to do things like study with them, be accountable to them, do evangelism with them, and serve alongside them through the church.
- They want their mentees to do greater things than they’ve ever done. Disciple-making pastors aren’t worried about building their own kingdom. They’re more concerned about sending out their mentees than keeping them around. They don’t get jealous when their mentees find themselves on bigger platforms or receive greater publicity. They simply want their mentees to honor the Lord.
by Chuck Lawless, Vice President of Spiritual Formation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on ChuckLawless.com. Used with permission.