There Is No Off-Season

The year we have just entered is a year when the Gospel will be setting more people free than any other year in your lifetime. As we pray and the Holy Spirit works opportunities will open for us to share the love of God. And, that love is discovered and received through the finished work of Jesus the Christ. So, we need to be ready to share the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) as doors open allowing us to do so. 

The key to being ready to plant seeds and bring in the harvest is preparation. Always being ready. The most excellent athletes in the world have this principal down pat.

Every sport has an off-season. This is the time when players who have been enduring a long, exhausting season take a break to relax and rejuvenate. All sports have these designated periods of rest. The best competitors will take a few weeks to allow their bodies to recuperate, but then they’ll use the rest of the time to prepare for the next season.

They train.

They lift weights.

They run.

They go through drills.

They push their bodies to the limit so that they will not only be ready for the next season but will also be better than the previous season.

The Bible clearly states that there is no off-season for an ambassador of God. And we are all ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, “I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

Notice this wasn’t a casual suggestion, but a charge. A strong command for all believers – not just pastors – to be ready to preach the Word anytime, anywhere, to anyone. When it’s convenient, and when it’s not. When it’s easily accepted, and when it is adamantly rejected. Our circumstances, situations, or surroundings do not alter the charge.

The mandate is still the same – no matter if you’re in Southern California, Mexico City, Bangladesh, South Africa, or any other region of the world: preach the Word!

God’s Word is precious. It is everlasting, unchanging Truth. We as believers have been given the awesome responsibility to become stewards of the Word of God. It is our duty and spiritual obligation. Now is the time to preach the Gospel … more than ever before. It is exciting to anticipate Jesus’ return to this earth – but until that happens there are specific mandates God has made clear to every Christian.

Receive the Word. Be faithful with the Word. And preach the Word as often as you can. 

To preach the Word simply means to share the love of God with others you relate to and those you don’t. It is more than helping or serving someone in a physical way. It must always include speaking God’s Word to them – sharing your experience of being born again and set free by the Cross of Christ. You will, of course, need to be familiar with the Gospel of the Kingdom. You will also need to learn how to share that good news with others in a way that they can understand and receive it. And, you need to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s work and let Him do what He does best – convict the person of their sin (John 16:8-10). So there is some training to undergo. 

And, as important, realize that when you are speaking to another generation – that although the message has not changed the method by which you share it must. You need to approach each generation differently and be sensitive to where they are at in their understanding of spiritual truths  and in their spiritual journey.

We are mandated to be ready to share. But, there is a season of intense preparation and I believe we have entered that season here at the start of 2020. 

If your church is not teaching you how to share the life-changing Gospel of the Kingdom, change churches. Find one that believes in being born again and that teaches, trains, and equips believers to share the Gospel with others. Find someone more mature than you are who is “going into al the world and making disciples” and ask them to teach you how to do what they are doing. It is your responsibility to fulfil this command that Paul writes to Timothy about. And, everyone of us will be held accountable for what we have done in this regard. 

Born Again or Bored Again

The Barna Group found that 68% of unbelievers would describe Christians as boring. I can’t handle that statistic. Jesus was many things, but boring was not one of them.

  • Boring people don’t have five thousand followers flocking to hear their boring message
  • Boring people don’t get approached at weddings to make the party better
  • Boring people don’t get crucified for their boring beliefs
  • Boring people aren’t greeted with palm branch parades when they enter cities
  • Boring people don’t inspire martyrs to give up everything for their boring cause
  • Boring people don’t change the world

My point is simple: Our God is not boring!

The world altered its calendar and gauged human history by everything before Christ (BC) and after Christ (AD). His life made a mark. His life made a difference. His life was everything but boring.

So obviously the question is: If the Christ we follow isn’t boring, why in the world are we?

If you look around at those who claim to follow Jesus – believers – they really are generally very boring. They lack angst. They lack a faith that cost them anything. But, I think the situation is far worse than it looks.

I don’t think Christians are just boring. I think Christians are bored.

I think many older Christians were once born-again Christians and now they are just bored-again Christians. They are waiting on the next message, the next conference, the next experience that will ignite their faith. All the while the Great Commission is at their doorstep. The reality is, we are bored because we are disobedient. I bet painters that don’t paint are bored. I bet dancers who don’t dance are bored. I bet writers who don’t write are bored. And I am convinced that disciples that don’t disciple are bored (and boring).

There is a true story I read just a few days ago. It is about a dog named DeSoda. When the owner’s children were young, he got them a puppy. This puppy, like all puppies, had a ton of energy and lacked a lot of wisdom. DeSoda always tried to run away when the door opened, always tried to jump on any stranger who walked in the home, and always barked obnoxiously. Then a decade went by. DeSoda was now an old dog and no longer a young puppy. His energy was gone. He desire for adventure was gone. Heck, he didn’t even care when a stranger walked in the house. He would just lift his head from the mat, give them a nod, and go back to sleep. In dog years, DeSoda was really old. The family was pretty sure he was going to die soon.

So the kids, now young teenagers, asked their dad, “Dad! Dad! Can we please have a new dog? DeSoda is so boring now! He never plays with us anymore. He just wants to sit around the house all day.”

The Dad conceded and got the family a new puppy. And the process repeated itself. The new puppy, Beau, had a ton of energy and no wisdom. Except one difference was, their puppy Beau had DeSoda to show him the way. Beau and DeSoda became really good friends; they were like peas and carrots. All the puppy passion and energy in Beau would get DeSoda to do things he normally wouldn’t do. DeSoda was playing outside again. He was modelling for Beau where to go to the bathroom. DeSoda was now wrestling with Beau. He had a renewed energy, and the kids could tell.

The dad noted, “The crazy thing is we thought DeSoda was going to die that year. It just wasn’t looking good for him. But he ended up living four more years. And I’m convinced it was because of Beau.” Then he said a profound thing we have all heard before but never in this way. He said, “You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can give an old dog a new purpose.”

I just wonder how many old dogs in the Church are bored out of their minds, and their lives would be radically changed if they’d just find a young puppy.

That is what the Great Commission is all about. “Old disciple, go into all the world and make a new disciple (or two). Find a puppy and end boredom.”

Choosing a Mentor – Part Four

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…                    1> A good mentor is a worthy example                                                                                                                                         2> A good mentor is available                                                                                                                                                    3> A good mentor has proven experience                                                                                                                                 4> A good mentor possesses wisdom                                                                                                                                         5> A good mentor provides friendship and support

6> A good mentor is a coach who makes a difference in people’s lives

A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.

In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested. 

In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,

      • In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
      • In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
      • In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
      • In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
      • In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
      • In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
      • In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course. 
      • In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor. 

All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’  lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change. 

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

In my opinion, good mentors share five common characteristics. They…

        • Care for the people they coach
        • Observe their attitudes, behaviour, and performance
        • Align them with their strengths for peak performance
        • Communicate and give feedback about their performance
        • Help them to improve their lives and performance 

Please note that the first letter of each characteristic spells “coach

The process of growing with the help of a mentor usually follows this pattern: It begins with awareness. You realize that you need help and that following yourself is not a viable option for effective personal growth. When a person comes to that realization, one of two things can happen. The first is that the person’s pride swells up and he cannot bring himself to ask another person for advice. This is a common reaction. However, to keep from looking ignorant, they almost always ensure their own ignorance.

The other reaction to awareness is to humble yourself and say, “I need your help.” That decision not only leads to greater knowledge, but it also often develops maturity. It reinforces that people need one another [- not just when they are young and starting out, but their entire lives. 

Chuck Swindoll in “The Finishing Touch” states…

“Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken.

Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited.

Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…

You guessed it. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. 

To make this thing called life work, we gotta lean and support. And relate and respond. And give and take. And confess and forgive. And reach out and embrace. And release and rely…

Since none of us is a whole, independent, self-sufficient, super-capable, all-powerful hotshot, let’s quit acting like we are. Life’s lonely enough without our playing that silly role. 

The game’s over. Let’s link up.” 

Choosing a Mentor – Part Three

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…

1> A good mentor is a worthy example                                                                                                                                         2> A good mentor is available                                                                                                                                                    3> A good mentor has proven experience

4> A good mentor possesses wisdom

There’s a well-known story of an expert who was called by a company to look at their manufacturing system. It had broken and everything was at a standstill. When the expert arrived, he carried nothing but a little black bag.

Silently he walked around the equipment for a few minutes and then stopped. As he focused on one specific area of the equipment, he pulled a small hammer out of his bag and he tapped it gently. Suddenly everything began running again, and he quietly left.

The next day he send a bill that made the manager go ballistic. It was for $1000! Quickly the manager e-mailed the expert and wrote, “I will not pay this outrageous bill without it being itemized and explained.” Soon he received an invoice with the following words:

For the tapping on equipment with hammer – $1                                                                                                                  For knowing where to tap – $999

That is the value of wisdom. Mentors with wisdom often show us where to tap. Their understanding, experience, and knowledge help us to solve problems that we would have a hard time handling on our own.

One of my mentors (I read everything he ever wrote) when asked why highly successful people often sabotaged their lives and hurt their careers said, “Never confuse the giftedness of a person with the person. Their gifts allow them to do amazing things but the person may be flawed, which will eventually cause harm.” That bit of wisdom about a person’s character has helped me immeasurably. First, it helped me to better understand how to work with talented people and to help them develop. Second, it has been a caution to me personally. I know that having talent in a given area never exempts me from neglecting discipline or character issues. We’re all just one step away from stupid.

Wise people often use just a few words to help us learn and develop. They open our eyes to worlds we might not have otherwise seen without their help. They help us navigate difficult situations. They help us to see opportunities we would otherwise miss. They make us wiser than our years and experience. 

5> A good mentor provides friendship and support

The first question most followers ask of a mentor is, “Do you care for me?” The reason for this question is obvious. Who wants to be guided by a person who isn’t interested in them? Selfish people will assist you only insofar as it advances their own agenda. Good mentors provide friendship and support, unselfishly working to help you reach your potential. Their mind-set is well expressed by business coach and author James Vuocolo, who says, “Great things happen whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God’s gift to others, and begin seeing others as God’s gift to us.”

If the person who offers to mentor you doesn’t really support you and offer you friendship, then the relationship will always fall short of your expectations. Knowledge without support is sterile. Advice without friendship feels cold. Candour without care is harsh. However, when you are being helped by someone who cares for you it is emotionally satisfying. Growth comes from both the head and the heart. Only supportive people are willing to share both with you. 

More next time…

Choosing a Mentor – Part Two

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. Last time we saw…

1> A good mentor is a worthy example

2> A good mentor is available

Andrew Carnegie stated, “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” As I grow older I too am doing just that. For us to be able to observe models (mentors) up close and see what they do, we must have some contact with them. That requires access and availability. For us to be actively mentored, we must have time with people to ask questions and learn from their answers all the time watching how they live and work.

When I mentor people, we usually meet once a month at the most. However, I am available by email and text at other times should they have a question or a concern between in-person meetings. Many of their mentoring questions are stimulated by my actions, not my words. That, of course, is a humbling thought. I know at times I fall short of the ideals and values that I teach and that we see in Scripture. Often the greatest leadership challenge I have is leading me! Teaching people what to do is easy. Showing them is much more difficult.

The greatest piece of advice that I ever received from my mentors is in the area of availability. When you are looking for a mentor, don’t shoot too high too soon. If you are considering going into politics for the first time, you don’t need the advice of the president or prime minister of your nation. If you are a high school student starting work at MacDonalds, you don’t need to relate directly to the manager or owner of your local hamburger joint. If you are fresh out of school and just starting your career, don’t expect to get extensive mentoring from the CEO of your organization.

Why shouldn’t I? You may be thinking. Why not start with the best? First of all, if you’re just starting out, nearly all your questions can be answered by someone two or three levels ahead of you – not ten. And their answers will be fresh because they will have recently dealt with the issues you are dealing with. Second, CEOs need to be spending their time answering questions of the people who are on the verge of leading at their level. I’m not saying you should never go to the top. I’m saying spend the majority of your time being mentored by people who are available, willing, and suited for the current stage of your career. And as you progress in your development, find new mentors for your new level of growth. 

3> A good mentor has proven experience

The farther you go in pursuit of your potential, the more new ground you will have to break. How do you figure out how to proceed? Benefit from others’ experiences. As the Chinese proverb says, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”

Ever time I have entered into a new venture, I’ve sought the advice of people with proven experience. When I planted my first church; when I formed a network of churches; when I began to travel overseas on a regular basis; when I started ministering apostolically; when I left full-time pastoring; and now as I devote quality time daily to the writing and publishing of books. Hearing about their bad experiences makes me aware of potential problems I will be facing up the road. Hearing about their good experiences gives me an anticipation of potential opportunities up ahead of me.

I don’t know of a successful person who hasn’t learned from more experienced people. Sometimes they follow in their footsteps. Other times they use their advice to help them break new ground. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani says, “All leaders are influenced by those they admire. Reading about them and studying their traits inevitably allows an inspiring leader to develop his own leadership traits.”

I personally read at least one biography or autobiography every month. Recently I read Michele Obama’s book “Becoming.” I am currently reading “Born With Teeth” by Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager. You can always learn by reading the life story and adventures of others. 

More next time…

Choosing a Mentor – Part One

Personal growth should be the number one priority of all believers who are serious about following Jesus and reaching their divine purpose in life. Since I began my walk with the Lord over 43 years ago I have had a series of mentors.

At first, I simply grabbed hold or anyone who was willing to impart information into my life. This was good as I was a young believer and gained a great deal from other more mature believers and leaders. But this was a scattershot approach. Although I learned a lot I did not achieve the traction that I had hoped for. Then I figured out that I needed to focus my growth on my areas of personal strength: relationships, communications, teaching, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When I did that, my effectiveness in growth started to increase. Most of my early mentors were authors whose books I devoured.

Through one of my mentors I started to learn to glean from what I was studying. Resources have little value unless you can pull from them the essentials that you need. That meant learning that I didn’t have to finish a book simply because I started it. I could read only the portions that I needed and deemed important at the time. I learned how to take useful notes, gather quotes, and, most importantly, reflect on what I was learning. I often summarized what I learned and wrote follow-up points inside the front and back covers of a book that was significant and life-changing for me. And, I learned to collect, categorize, and file stories and quotes every day. I also put into practice anything I learned at my earliest opportunity.

Of course, all of that is so much easier now with a good laptop computer or a tablet. And, even today, these disciplines are still part of my daily routine. I read several books a week, I listen to podcasts and watch You Tube videos of good preaching or interviews with people I admire and can learn from. However, I also learned early in my professional life and ministry that personal growth without the benefit of personal mentors could take me only so far. If I wanted to become the leader and teacher that I desired to be – and believed that God had created and called me to become – I needed to find models who were ahead of me to learn from. Why? Because it is hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. 

I have learned a lot from people I have never met or met briefly. Reading helps you to grow and gain from the experience and wisdom of others who have written books and shared their hard earned lessons with the reader. Most people who decide to grow personally find their first motors in the pages of books. That is a great place to start. For that matter, it’s a great place to continue. I am still learning from dozens of people every year that I will never meet. But at some point, you must find personal, in-person, models too. If you follow only yourself, you will find yourself going in circles.

When choosing mentors and models, you must be careful and be selective. There were these two derelicts sunning themselves on a park bench. The first guy said, “The reason I’m here is because I refused to listen to anyone.” The second guy responded, “The reason I’m here is because I listened to everyone.”

Neither course of action is helpful. You must be selective in who you choose as a mentor. From both the positive and negative experiences I haver had with mentors, I went looking for direction as to how to properly choose a mentor who would be a real benefit to me. One of my early mentors developed the following criteria to determine the ‘worthiness’ of a model for me to follow.

1> A good mentor is a worthy example

We become like the people we admire and the models we follow. For that reason, we should take great care when determining which people we ask to mentor us. They must not only display professional excellence and possess skill sets from which we can learn, they must also demonstrate character worthy of emulating.

Many athletes, celebrities, politicians, and business leaders today try to disavow being any kind of role model when others are already following them and mimicking their behaviour. They want people to separate their personal behaviour from their professional life, but such a division cannot really be made. Religious leader and author Gordon B. Hinckley advised,

“It is not wise, or even possible, to divorce private behaviour from public leadership – though there are those who have gone to great lengths to suggest that this is the only possible view of ‘enlightened’ individuals. They are wrong. They are deceived. By its very nature, true leadership carries with it the burden of being an example. Is it asking too much of any public officer, elected by his or her constituents, to stand tall and be a model before the people – not only in the ordinary aspects of leadership but in his or her behaviour? If values aren’t established and adhered to at the top, behaviour down the ranks is seriously jeopardized and undermined. Indeed, in any organization where such is the case – be it a family, a corporation, a society, or a nation – the values being neglected will in time disappear.”

As you look for role models and mentors, scrutinize their personal lives as carefully as their public performance. Your values will be influenced by theirs, so you shouldn’t be too casual who you choose to follow.

More next time….

Eagles Make Life Happen

As a leader I am often asked to disciple or mentor young people. I am open to saying “yes” to those who have a call on their lives to be part of the fivefold ministry team as seen in Ephesians 4:11-12

“And he (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

However, a call is not enough. I have worked with and even travelled with young men who have a strong call of God on their life who were disasters looking for a place to happen. Others simply were of no help on the trips they took with me and actually created more work for me and damaged the reputation of my ministry that has taken decades to build. The issue is more than a call – it is their character.

So, when saying “yes” to someone wanting to be discipled, mentored, or a member of my team on an overseas trip I am much more hesitant than ever before. I need a season to come to know the person really well and to experience them in action so as to see their character and their relational abilities. 

Now, when I say “yes” to someone I am looking for what I call “an eagle.” These are people with great potential that I can then create an environment for them to flourish, reach their potential, and emerge as powerful ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom and leaders in their own right. The have the qualities, the character, and the motivation to develop into powerful leaders or “eagles.” If they have what is required to grow and develop and blossom – and are willing to learn and relate to me and my team, then they are considered for entering a mentoring relationship with me. I am looking for “baby eagles’ who have the potential to develop into strong, mature eagles.

The ten marks of an eagle are:

      • Eagles make things happen
      • Eagles see and seize opportunities
      • Eagles influence the opinions and actions of others
      • Eagles add value to you
      • Eagles draw winners to them
      • Eagles equip other eagles to lead
      • Eagles provide ideas that help the organization or ministry
      • Eagles possess an uncommonly great attitude
      • Eagles live up to their commitments and responsibilities
      • Eagles show fierce loyalty to the organization and the leader 

So, I am much slower in saying “yes” to someone who wants to be discipled or mentored. I am much more selective as to whom I choose to invest my time and energy in. I am looking for young people with a call and with character … and the potential, with my help, to become eagles. 

Few People Want to Stretch

I have observed that most people do not want to change or to grow. They often talk a good talk but the walk is missing. They know what they should do to improve their family, their job, their financial situation, their level of satisfaction and fulfillment. But, they simply don’t do it. And, you can offer them an amazing amount of good advice based on your own life experiences and your education and knowledge and nothing changes. As a result they simply keep going around and around the same mountain all of their lives never conquering the issue or the situation. They simply never grow up and talk responsibility as an adult to grow and mature, to change, to reach their potential, to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for their life. 

Most people use only a small fraction of their ability and rarely strive to reach their full potential.  There is no motivation to grow in their lives, little to no desire to stretch and become a better person and build a better life. Sadly, a third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives, and 42 percent of college graduated similarly never read a book after college. And publisher David Godine claims that only 32 percent of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore. I don’t know if people are aware of the gap between where they are and where they could be, but relatively few seem to be reading books to try and close it. 

To many people are willing to settle for average in life. Is that bad? Read the description written by Edmund Gaudet, and then you decide:

      • “Average” is what the failures claim to be when their family and friends ask them why they are not more successful.
      • “Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best. Which of these are you?
      • “Average” means being run-of-the-mill, mediocre, insignificant, an also-ran, a nonentity.
      • Being “average”is the lazy person’s cop-out; it’s lacking the guts to take a stand in life; it’s living by default.
      • Being “average” is to take up space for no purpose; to take the trip through life, but never to pay the fare; to return no interest for God’s investment in you.
      • Being “average” is to pass one’s life away with time, rather than to pass one’s time away with life; it’s to kill time, rather than to work it to death.
      • To be “average” is to be forgotten once you pass from this life. The successful are remembered for their contributions; the failures are remembered because they tried; but the “average,” the silent majority, is just forgotten.
      • To be “average” is to commit the greatest crime one can against one’s self, humanity, and one’s God. The saddest epitaph is this: “Here lies Mr. and Ms. Average – here lies the remains of what might have been, except for their belief that they were only ‘average’.”

I cannot stand the idea of settling for average, can you? Nobody admires average. The best organizations don’t pay for average. Mediocrity is not worth shooting for. As novelist Arnold Bennet said, The real tragedy is the tragedy of the man who never in his life braces himself for his one supreme effort, who never stretches to his full capacity, never stands up to his full stature.” 

We must be aware of the gap that stands between us and our potential, and let the tension of that gap motivate us to keep striving to become better. 

Mentor -Mentee

If you are someone who is dedicated to personal growth, you will always be learning from many people in many places. Occasionally, you will have an opportunity to be mentored on an ongoing basis by an individual. This usually happens because you go looking for the help. Good mentors seldom find you as they are usually very busy. You need to search for one and ask them to walk along side you and mentor you.

Being mentored by someone who is successful in your area of interest has great value. However, let me give you some advice as you look for and approach a mentor. If you find a potential mentor, know that the following are your responsibility:

      • Be hungry to learn and grow
      • Be assertive and aggressive, not passive
      • Possess a teachable spirit
      • Always be prepared for the time you get with your mentor
      • Set the agenda by asking great questions
      • Demonstrate how you’ve learned from your time together
      • Be accountable for what you have learned

As someone who had mentored a lot of people, here are what I believe the responsibilities of a mentor are. My responsibility to the people I mentor is to add value. My goal is always to help them to become more than they are, not to try to make them something they’re not. These are the areas I focus on:

      • Strengths
      • Temperament
      • Track record
      • Passion 
      • Choices
      • Advice
      • Support, resources, connections
      • Game plan
      • Feedback
      • Encouragement 

For each of these areas, think about what specific contribution you can offer to the person you are mentoring.

In one case I heard of, during the start of the second meeting with the mentor, the one being mentored said:

      • Here’s what I asked
      • Here’s what you shared
      • Here’s what I did
      • Now can I ask more questions?

This situation would be a mentor’s delight. 

Every person who can help you is not necessarily the right person to help you. You must pick and choose. And so must they. Your goal should be to find a fit that is mutually beneficial for both mentor and mente

A Good Mentor

A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.

In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested. 

In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,

      • In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
      • In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
      • In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
      • In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
      • In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
      • In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
      • In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course. 
      • In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor. 

All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’  lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change. 

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

John Maxwell states, “In my opinion, good coaches share five common characteristics. They…

      • Care fort the people they coach
      • Observe their attitudes, behaviours, and performances 
      • Align them with their strengths for peak performance
      • Communicate and give feedback about their performance
      • Help them to improve their lives and performance 

We all need at least one mentor in our lives.