Mentoring Leaders Are Stewards!

I have been asked to serve as a presenter for a small group intensive. It is a supportive role as part of a larger meeting of leaders convening for a two-day conference hosted by our Baptist state convention. This is my second stint at contributing in this way. I led a similar breakout session two years ago.  My topic this year is titled, "Reimagine Mentoring Mentors." After 45 years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered and rediscovered over the years that it is humanly impossible for me to do everything that needs to be done in local church ministry. Therefore, to be effective as a pastor-teacher at equipping others to do the work of the ministry (see Ephesians 4:11-13), I need to utilize the mentoring leaders God gives to the local church.
Stewardship is about time, talents and treasures!

Mentoring leaders are stewards and managers of God's resources. With respect to the resource of men and women who serve as God's leaders in the local church, mentors are specially gifted in identifying, affirming, equipping and connecting potential leaders with meaningful places of service within the body of Christ and in the community.

Mentors model Christian behavior and service. They are ready and eager to invest in the next generation of Christian leaders. When you think about the immensity of the Christian calling in terms of our primary tasks of evangelism, discipleship, ministry and service, you can conclude, "We need more mentors who will develop other leaders for these tasks!" And that begs the question, "How do you cultivate these mentors?" I believe the answer is in mentoring or intentionally and strategically "mining" the local church for them.

The descriptive phrase for this "mining ministry" sounds like I am defining the task by using the same words... "mentoring mentors." And I am! The work is so all-encompassing that we need more mentors and the only way to supply the need is to identify, affirm, equip and connect these potential mentors with the strategic task of mentoring other leaders. You can almost hear Paul sketching out the vision for  this mentor-equipping ministry when he instructs his young protégé Timothy, "And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV). While Paul is speaking primarily about passing along the gospel to the next generations, I think there may be a secondary application in this verse regarding the work of multiplying mentors.

Jesus called The Twelve, but He had a special calling and work for the inner core of leaders by the names of Peter, James and John. These men would be close by the Lord at special times like the Transfiguration when He turned up the light of His Deity and in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, "Not my will, but Thine be done." What role did these three play in the overall work of advancing the gospel? Peter would be a bold preacher and gospel witness crossing cultural barriers (Acts 10), James would be the first and only Apostle recorded in Scripture who was martyred for the faith (Acts 12:1-2), and John would write five books of the New Testament, serve as a significant church leader in Ephesus and be exiled to the island of Patmos by Domitian for his unrelenting witness of Christ (Rev. 1:9).

There is something instructional about Jesus calling these three and making a special investment in their lives and ministries. Without Peter, would there be the ministry of John Mark? Without James' death, would Peter and John have been emboldened in their faith? And without John, would there be the fourth gospel, three epistles or the Book of Revelation? While there were other disciples who served with distinction, biblical history will remember Peter, James and John as that prominent core among the other disciple leaders.

Should a local church pastor identify his inner core of leaders? Only if he wants to multiply the effectiveness of his own ministry. Only if the pastor wishes to raise up enough mentors to "call out the called" of other leaders and efficiently equip them. In short, yes! It takes a team of mentors to create a culture of mentoring within the local church. Jesus had his inner core, then The Twelve, and then many others would join His team, the church. Ultimately, from this relatively humble base of leaders, numbering perhaps 120 followers (see Acts 1:15), a great movement would result. The world would be changed and continue to be impacted by generation after generation of faithful followers of our Lord who were mentored, equipped and commissioned for service. This didn't happen by accident. It was the result of an intentional strategy blessed by the Holy Spirit.

Mentoring leaders yield to God who desires to use their spiritual gifts to build up the church, and then these leaders become stewards of others and their gifts. In short, the process can be described as mentoring those who will mentor others who will in turn steward, invest in and mentor others! And so, it continues to this day and guides what we must do to advance the gospel in our generation!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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