Every pastor needs a mentor. No matter what stage you are in your ministry, you need someone to coach you.
All sorts of organizations use the mentoring process to make people better at what they do. In medicine, doctors mentor younger doctors. In music, musicians mentor other musicians. Why? It works. We learn best when we have people who can speak into our lives and ministry. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life.”
I will always need a coach—no matter how old I get or how successful I become. Lebron James is one of the best basketball players on the planet. He still needs a coach. You will never get to a point in your life when you can say, “I’ve learned it all. I don’t need anybody else to help me.”
A mentor brings out the best in you in three areas: your roles, your goals, and your soul. Mentors give us perspective. They help us look at ourselves and our ministry from the outside. We don’t always see what we’re doing outside of our own perspective. We see from our own limited focus. We need somebody else in our life to say, “Have you thought about…? What about this? What about that?”
Saddleback would not be where it is today without men who’ve poured their lives into me—people who’ve made me look at my ministry in a different light. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisors they succeed.” What God has done through Saddleback over the past 30 years hasn’t happened because I’m smart. It’s because I’ve had great mentors and advisors. They are people I’ve bounced ideas off of and gotten feedback from.
What do you look for in a mentor? Let me suggest three qualities.
1. Someone who has the character and values you admire.
You want to find a mentor who is the kind of person you want to be.
2. Someone with the skills and experience you want.
Look for another pastor who has the particular ministry skills you want to improve upon. Maybe it’s preaching. Maybe it’s leadership. Maybe it’s a pastor who has successfully navigated through a building campaign. Find someone who is good at something you want to be good at.
3. Someone you trust.
If you don’t trust your mentor, you’re not going to learn anything from him. Just because a mentor has a lot of knowledge doesn’t mean you’ll click with him. To make a good mentoring experience, in time you’ll need to be able to open up to the person you choose.
Ask good questions. Once you pick the right mentor, you’ll need to make the most of the time you have with that person. Neither you nor your mentor have unlimited time. What can you do to maximize your time with your mentor? Ask questions. Before you meet with your mentor, spend some time thinking about questions you want to ask. Think about what issues you’re dealing with in your ministry. Think about what areas of your mentor’s ministry you’d like to learn from. Be specific.
One of my mentors was a guy named Billy, who had a mentor himself. Billy went to a large church in Texas and put himself under the pastor. At the end of six months, Billy went to him and said, “I’ve watched your teaching for six months and I’ve never heard you preach a dud. God speaks through everything you teach. Every time you teach there’s power, practical information, and good insight. I would like to know how you stay fresh. What’s your secret?”
The man told Billy, “About 35 to 40 years ago, I made a commitment to stay fresh, so I could feed other people. To do that, I read through the New Testament once a week.” Billy sat there dumbfounded, trying to think up an intelligent follow-up question to ask. “What translation do you read it in?” Billy asked. The Texas pastor said, “Usually in the original Greek.”
Billy later told me that he could have been with the guy for five or six years and never found out the secret to his freshness and spiritual depth if he hadn’t asked the question. Anyone—at any time—can be a mentor if you learn to ask questions. Everyone has a reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experience they can share. A wise person will learn to draw them out.
If I were to sit down with you, I’d learn some things that would make me a better pastor. I’m sure of it. You’ve had experiences that I haven’t had – and vice versa. Be prepared with standard questions to ask every time you get around someone you might learn from. Questions like…
- How do you handle stress?
- What have been the greatest successes in your life?
- What were the causes of those successes?
- What were the greatest failures in your life?
- What would you do differently if you were starting over?
- What kind of books do you read?
- How do you manage your time?
- How do you manage your money?
- What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned?
- What have been the greatest surprises in your life?
Successful people give off clues. Look for those clues. Pull them out and learn from them.
Welcome feedback. Getting feedback from mentors is absolutely critical. If you don’t get feedback, you’re going to get off course. During all the Apollo trips to the moon, those spaceships had to do constant course corrections. The earth was turning, and the moon was turning. To make it, the astronauts had to change the course of their ship, and the only way they could do that was to get feedback.
You need to make course corrections from time to time in ministry as well. To make those corrections, you’ll need someone on the outside of your ministry to give you feedback. If you’re not open to feedback from a mentor, you’re not going to learn and you’re not going to grow. Pastor, you need a mentor in your ministry. Whether you’re 25, 35, 55, or 75, there is someone you can learn from. Find someone with character. Find someone with skills you desire. Find someone you trust. Find a mentor.
I thanks so much for every topics because it help a lot for spiritual growth of not only the members but also for me as A mentor. You’re ministry is such a Blessing and may our Lord continue to Bless you with wisdom and knowledge. God Bless you all
VERY INSIGHTFUL, IS IT WORKABLE TO HAVE A MENTOR WHOM YOU DON’T INTERACT WITH。A DISTANT MENTOR。
Need God’s guidance and help. I am a Pastor. My wife cheated with my best friend. No church will hire me. I started a church in large house. Just baptized 5 people in river. Father died, watching Mom who is partially blind. I’m retired Diabetic $693 mth. So stressed and financially poor. Trying to be strong for God’s people but I find myself crying and devasteed. God bless. Donald
I hear what you are saying, but, I have not been able to find a qualified mentor. Most the pastor or mentors I’ve encountered don’t have time, what to charge a large sum of money; or they have an agenda that is different from mine. Where do you find someone who is willing to invest the time and energy in helping an unknown, non connected. Where are the mentor to help groom the next generation of Pastor’s, to impact out church to be effective in ministry. We need more to seminar and conferences, we need personal one on one help.
Pastor I would like to ask you a question if I may?…I currently live in Corpus Christi, TX and attend a church here with my wife who is a prophetis. She is very aware of her spiritual gift and operates in it quite often. I’m on the other hand do not. I know that I am called to preach. But I do not have anyone here to mentor me. The pastor we are currently under is younger than I am (I am 36) and he has only been “Teaching” for 3 years. He doesn’t believe in working in the 5 fold ministries and doesn’t believe in working in spiritual gifts. What do you suggest I do?
Thank you pastor for the advice I really agree with you that a pstor needs a mentor thanm you.
I need a help . My church is not growing
First off, I want to say two things: 1) Thank you for doing your spiritual gift of preaching God’s word, which we are called to do, but some are called to be preachers, so “Thank you very much”. 2) I am sorry for the loss of your son. My brother committed suicide many, many years ago after battling drugs, abuse from a father, etc…. and as a father myself, my son almost took his life over drugs and girl problems, with which even today he doesn’t speak to me. So, I can only imagine you have gone through a lot.
With all that said, I have to respectfully disagree with folks needing a mentor. I believe our mentor will always first and foremost be LOOKING UP TO GOD. To many times in this SECULAR society, we think we need someone else to coach us in life or to coach us to be more and more successful. What happen to being content with where we are in life? Other cultures are not trying to keep up with the Jones’s to become bigger and better. Other folks that still live the SIMPLE LIFE don’t hire life coaches or mentors to try get more money and become wealthier.
I think of how all these self help gurus from Tony Robbins to Oprah or doctors on TV like Dr. Oz to Dr. Phil have turned our society into thinking we need this or we need that to be successful or to do this to be more efficient in life or more healthier.
What happen to the days where folks lived in isolated areas and all they worried about was Maslow’s Basic Needs of Food, Clothing, Shelter, Water and praying and putting all things in God’s hands.
If our priorities in life are Faith, Family, Friends, and Fitness (Spiritual, Physical, Mental, and Emotional), then why should we seek out mentorship, unless it’s from our God, Family, or in your case, you as my pastor could be a mentor. Because usually, the pastor of a church, helps guide his flock with comprehending and getting a clearer understanding of biblical passages, fellowship among the church, and guiding us in how to become better disciples for Christ.
Yes, we need coaches if we are athletes, but that doesn’t mean they are my mentors. Yes, we need trainers or teachers that know more about a certain craft like fitness, technical skills, or academia, which one may pursue, so in that instance and PhD could be a Graduate Students mentor in becoming a PhD themself.
Yes, a lawyer may have a Senior Partner in a Law firm act as a mentor, while they start out in a firm, so they know the ropes. Similar to another player on a team shows a new player how things are done. I agree with having a “battle buddy” or a teammate to help guide you sometimes in life, but I still believe the mentors we have should be our God and Family.
These are the people we look up to and go to for guidance in our life. I don’t believe once we get to a certain point, we stop learning, I just don’t think someone that is in a higher leadership position needs a mentor, that is my opinion. They can learn on their own, come up with innovative ideas, and look to God or Family for guidance if they are struggling in life or moving their life in a different direction.
Our SECULAR society defines SUCCESS usually by titles and money. Wealth and power. But to me, success in life is through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Once people realize, we live in a sinful world, but we are not of this world and we put all our faith and trust in the Lord Almighty, then maybe, just maybe, we won’t have all this talk about mentors or people guiding us in life, when it should only be God is our true mentor. I still believe in coaches and teachers for continually honing our skills or craft, but mentor is a strong word that I believe should only apply to God or our close family of Mother/Father, Husband/Wife, Brothers/Sisters, etc…
Once again, thank you Pastor for what you do each and every day and sorry again for the loss of your son.
If you are mentored i believe it helps you reduce costly and grievous mistakes which could have destroyed your life and vision. Every great leader was mentored and it will be great if you desire greatness to pray to God for someone who will be willing to do so in your life. If you can’t get the person physically, you can get hold of their resources- books, tapes, podcast etc and put them to good use. I believe it’s also part of the mentoring process. God bless.
If a persons misunderstands who Jesus Christ is, does not matter what he says after! Stick with Jesus and the Bible!
can you be my mentor?
I would like to ask Mr. Warren, why don’t you believe Jesus Christ should be the only true source to look to for the answers you seek? Man cannot guide you for man is fallible and made of flesh. Also, when quoting from the Bible, I think using the exact wording from the KJV Bible would be more appropriate. Proverbs 19:20 states, ” Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” This is very different sounding than how you write it, ”
“Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life.”
I totally agree with Lindy. A lot of the pastors that we desire to mentor us are unavailable.
Solution to this would be to seek out available ones. They may not be “high profile”, but they are available. Remember, God chooses availability over ability.
In addition to this, you could read the books/blogs written by these “unavailable pastor”…a lot of the questions you want to ask have been answered in the books anyway.
Find a mentor. Keep your eyes on Jesus.