Falling Through the Grates

Now, where is that burger?
I think the expression is "falling through the cracks," but this is a picture of how a burger fell through the "grates!" The setting for this mishap was this year's July 4th gathering with family and friends in Pawnee. Marlon, Marc's father-in-law, has been gracious to host this tradition the past few years. I have become the designated "grill master" for the occasion. I'm sure this assignment fell to me in order to keep me busy. As you know, I am retired now!

The burgers to be grilled this day were of the "high-end variety." Monique's brother, Phil picks these up made-to-order from a meat locker in Mattoon. Some are plain while others are exotic! Jalapeno, Chili Cheese, Hawaiian, Dill Pickler, and Mushroom Swiss to name but a few of the varieties available. I try to handle these half-pounders with care, but accidents happen. Just as I was moving some of them to higher heat, one slid off the spatula and through the grill grates to the burners below. My near perfect grilling skills took a great set-back with that mistake. I was ribbed exceedingly by those who know of my quest for perfection!

I must confess that even with good intentions, some mentoring efforts in our churches fall short. Although we make lists of all prospective workers and pray over those individuals seeking God's will, we overlook some very gifted persons for service. We do take seriously our mission to match a willing servant with a place of service each year during our Nominating Team process. But some individuals who have great potential simply "fall through the cracks" in the church organization.

I'm passionate about leader development as our church's Commitment Team leader and Sunday School director. There is an ongoing need for new workers in the church. As I relate to other church leaders, they admit the same need exists in their churches. This is especially true these days with aging congregations where the pool of available leaders is increasingly diminished. How do we address this need for new leaders?

Our state convention has been conducting an annual leadership summit for the last years during January. I have been asked to be a part of this once again. I welcome the opportunity to share some ideas in one of the several breakout groups that will be offered. My particular intensive is themed, "Re-imagine Mentoring Mentors!" I will be suggesting that a good place to begin in replenishing the leader pool of our churches is to focus on developing more qualified mentors.

What do mentor's do? That question is filling my mind these days. After perusing several resources on leadership development recently, I am building a list of qualities for mentors. They are observant, sensing and intuitive leaders. They "see people!" They imagine how the skills and spiritual gifts of prospective workers can be utilized in the church and community. In short, mentors have vision and they can communicate a preferred vision to others. These mentoring leaders become a tremendous asset in developing a church's next generation of leaders.

Jesus sees, knows and values us. He taught his disciples that even two sparrows worth only pennies could not fall to the ground without his knowledge. He then calmed their anxious thoughts with these words, "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:29-31). While Jesus means much more to us as Savior and Lord than just being a mentoring influence in our lives, He is an example of how we must value others.

Churches need a culture of leader development that will identify and mobilize select individuals to become mentoring leaders. These mentors will then partner with pastoral leadership to guide the church through the process of leader development. Imagine a church where no one "falls through the cracks" but everyone is encouraged to find their place of service. What will we do with so many potential leaders? We will advance the kingdom's work to the glory of God!

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


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