It was Tuesday evening at the end of 2016. We had just finished another Bible study series. For the record, I have taught this class for women 4 or so years and I always create and write my own material. I had been considering what I wanted to teach next when I had an idea. I approached one of the young moms in the class and asked her to think about the lessons we had been doing and consider what she would like us to study next.Read More
I believe the most difficult part of this process is Trust. There simply comes a time when you must turn responsibility over to the other person & surrender control. This can be tough, especially if the project is one you started from scratch. When we birth a project & develop it, we have specific ideas how it should be done. We have to accept the fact, for our idea, our project to continue after we turn it over to someone else, it needs to evolve. Nothing survives in a stagnant environment & this is especially true of ideas. They need to develop & grow over time, having a fresh approach added to the mix in order for them to continue & survive.
Let’s look at the example Jesus set for us. No matter what you believe happened to Jesus after He died, we can all agree, He eventually had to turn things over to His followers & leave. We have a record of the events that followed & not just from the Bible. The apostles took the things they were taught by Jesus & built on them. They organized the church. They created other roles in ministry. They began training new leaders. They wrote down an account of the things they had seen & the things they were doing. They defined the role & responsibilities of the church & the people in the church. The list goes on & on.
The apostles took the lessons Jesus taught them, they took His message, they took the things they learned while studying under Jesus & they expanded on them. Things were changing around them & they adapted & developed with the changes without sacrificing the message or lessons Jesus had taught them. And Jesus had to trust them to continue in His absence. He had to surrender the work to those that followed. And over 2000 years later, the work Jesus began continues, different than it was back then but still the same at its heart.
Mentoring can be a rewarding experience for both the mentor & student. It makes the transition of power on a project or organization smoother & increases the chances of things continuing into the future. Never let your fear of change prevent you from turning the reins over to the next generation of leaders. Insure continuation & growth by choosing & mentoring your replacement. Then relax knowing you have placed things in qualified hands.
Your mentoree has watched you in action. You have explained to them how you do things & answered their questions about your techniques. You have given them the opportunity to try to do it themselves & had them tell you about the experience. Now it is time to train them to do it better.
I would like to differentiate between teach & train for the purposes of this material. When I talk about teach someone, I’m referring to more of a lecture type situation. You explain a subject in detail & take questions from the students. At this point, they may have no practical experience on the subject. Training comes after the student or mentoree has had the opportunity to apply the lessons they have learned through your teaching. Now they have practical experience however, they need their abilities refined. They are more apprentices than masters in the field. To give a broad example, medical school teaches students about medicine. They have the opportunity, through internships, to test what they have learned. Eventually, they move on to a residency where they receive more detailed training to refine their skills & abilities.
When the disciples would return from the mission trips Jesus sent them on, Jesus would take time to debrief them. He listened as they told Him what worked & what didn’t. They told Him about any problems they had. This debriefing is more for the mentor than the student. It gives the mentor the opportunity to discover areas that need more focus or topics that are confusing. It also helps the mentor understand things that simply don’t work anymore. If the mentor has been doing a task for years, there may be a newer or at least easier way to do it nowadays. You always need to listen carefully to your student. Your task as a mentor is to turn a job, position, etc. over to them. Unless you want to keep on doing it until you are gone, you need to help them discover the way that works best for them. That means combining your way & their way.
Training allows you to break bad habits before they begin, strengthen good habits & help your student discover the best way to do it for themselves.
One more step in the process & you’re ready to begin!
The second biggest mistake mentors make, after not mentoring new leaders at all, is failing to test them. We tend to be too quick turning things over to the newbie before we are certain the are prepared. Offering them a short period of time to shadow you & then giving them only a bit of teaching before handing over the reins is worse than no mentoring at all.
When we drop everything into the newbie’s lap too soon, they may become frustrated when things fail to go well. Even worse, they may become embarrassed, believe THEY are to blame for their lack of success when the mentor is the one responsible.
Rather than quickly giving them the responsibility of their new assignment, take time to make certain they are ready. And the best way to do this is to test them. No, not a written exam! Instead, give them responsibility for an assignment while you are still there to offer guidance & advice.
Early in their training, Jesus sent the disciples out into neighboring towns to do ministry. He sent them out in pairs so they could support & encourage one another & to hold each other accountable. When they returned, Jesus talked to the disciples about their experience. What worked? What didn’t? Where did they have problems?
These mission journeys gave the disciples to practical experience, like an internship. They were able to fail on a small scale while Jesus was still available to offer them guidance & advice.
Nothing discourages a new leader faster than failure. It takes less time & effort to retrain them to overcome their mistakes & weaknesses than it does to start all over with a new person when your current new leader quits in frustration.
Take the time to do the job right!
The disciples first had the opportunity to watch Jesus talk to large crowds & smaller groups, seeing Him share His message. These moments gave the disciples the chance to see Jesus model the behavior He wanted them to imitate & to hear the lessons He was sharing as He spoke to the public. This, however, was not enough. Jesus needed to be sure the disciples understood the lessons so they would be able to teach them later.
For this reason, Jesus always sat down with the disciples after these events & asked them if they understood the lesson He had taught. He would go over His message in detail, answering their questions until He was sure they not only understood but would also be able to share the message later.
It’s important for the new leaders you mentor to watch you perform the work they will need to continue when you turn it over to them. It is also very important that they understand the work they are supposed to do. For example, they may think an aspect of the work is minor without realizing how vital that small step is to the whole process.
A woman once spoke to me after I finished teaching a Bible study to a large group of women. She lamented her inability to do what I did, minimizing the gift of hospitality she had been given. Every week, she & her sister stood at the door, greeting every woman that came in & giving them a hug to make them feel welcome & at home. They performed this same task every year during our huge women’s conference. I told her I would probably be speaking to an empty room if not for the warm welcome she & her sister offered women every week. If a new women’s ministry director had taken over without know the importance of this seemingly small task, she might overlook inviting the sisters to greet during Bible study & the conference. This task might seem small but it set the tone for every event the women hosted during my time working with the ministry. New leaders must not only see the process in action, they must have it explained to them so nothing, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is overlooked!
It’s important for new leaders to see the desired behavior modeled for them. It’s always easy to TELL someone what you expect. It’s powerful to show them. It’s even MORE powerful to have them watch tame after time after time. Before I served as President for a local chapter of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, I was elected 1st Vice President. My whole job for that term was to shadow the President, learning all I could before following her into office. Yes, there was material for me to read. There were workshops & training for me to attend. Yet the best lessons I learned were from watching our chapter President. Jesus used this very same technique with His disciples with great results.
Jesus always took the disciples with Him when He spoke before crowds. The disciples had the opportunity to see Jesus interact with people, watch His speaking techniques. They even had a chance to study acoustics. When a large crowd showed up to hear Jesus one time, He went out in a boat away from the shore a bit. The sound traveled better over the water, enabling the crowd to hear everything He had to say. The disciples also watched Jesus when He talked with individuals. A large part of ministry is listening. Jesus always gave His time & attention to people when He was in conversation with them. The disciples had a chance to watch this interaction time & again. So today’s lesson is simple: book learning is great. Training is wonderful. However, the best way to mentor leaders is to let them watch other leaders, like you, in action!
Jesus was a leader & a mentor. In fact, He was a great trainer & mentor. He took an eclectic group of men & trained them, not only to continue the ministry He began but develop it into a long lasting, thriving organization that continues today. This was not easy. The group was not just eclectic, they were, well, let’s just say most of them were not the ones you would pick if you were creating a world changing organization!
As a leader, Jesus set an example for His disciples, modeling the behavior He want them to copy. As a mentor, He encouraged them to test the skills He taught them, then worked with them to strengthen those skills & make them even better.
You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the leadership & mentoring skills of Jesus. Business books have been written, sharing insights into His abilities & offering ways to incorporating those skills into the business world.
While leadership training & development have been hot topics in recent years, mentoring has been largely ignored. This is a major mistake. A leader can’t be fully developed simply through leadership training. Practical experience must be coupled with training. In order for that experience to be most effective, a mentor needs to walk beside the developing leader, offering advice & encouragement along the way.
Unfortunately, a new leader is usually given the training & then sent out to perform, learning over a long period of time by trial & error. For many new leaders, the only mentoring they receive is in the form of discipline when they make the inevitable mistakes.
This situation is even worse for the volunteer leader in the church or organization. In business, there is at least SOME training & guidance. Volunteers are simply given the materials that have been passed down from one leader to the next, patted on the back & told halfheartedly, “If you need anything, call me!” They never call. They never know what to ask or how to begin or how this could happen to them.
For this reason, many churches have a hard time recruiting leaders & an even harder time keeping them.In this series, I’m sharing 5 simple steps to use when mentoring new leaders. They don’t take much time, they just take follow-up & consistency. I developed these steps by studying the method Jesus used to prepare the disciples for leadership. Not all the men He chose as His disciples were born leaders. Jesus trained them & mentored them during their time together, creating leaders that went on to begin & build a thriving organization.
Have you been mentored or mentored someone else? How was the experience for you? Do you have questions about mentoring? Share them with us in the comments.Training & mentoring leaders is the way to empower your organization & ensure the continuation of your programs. It is worth all the time & effort you put into the process considering all the benefits you reap!
Have you ever had someone tell you something so incredible that you just couldn’t believe what they were saying? Was that someone ever one of your children? Don’t feel bad. You’re in good company.
Look at the disciples! Here was a group of men that gave up their careers, their businesses, left their families to follow a man with a message. Sure, it was a message these men believed in but they walked away from their lives to enter a life that had no guarantees. For 3 years, they traveled, prayed, preached, healed, learned, and more. Then, the man they loved as their leader was arrested, tried and put to death. This was NOT how it was supposed to happen.
These men had heard the stories for years about the coming Messiah. All of them believed the Messiah would be a warrior like David, a king that would fight to reclaim their land. Jesus said all the right things. Didn’t He talk about the coming Kingdom over and over again?
Now He was dead and the cause He led was about to die along with Him. These men mourned, not just the loss of their friend but the loss of their faith in Jesus and God. How could this have happened?
Then something incredible happened. Mary Magdalene showed up and told the disciples she and the other women had seen Jesus! He was alive! Rejoice! Oh, wait! They didn’t believe her! Even though she had seen Him with her own eyes, they refused to believe her.
Then Jesus showed up. Well, they believed then. Except Thomas who wasn’t there when Jesus showed up the first time. The others told Thomas what they had ALL seen but he refused to believe it. Finally Thomas got to see for himself. Jesus came back to that upper room and appeared to the disciples, including Thomas. Then Thomas believed. Sure, easy to believe when the truth is standing right in front of you! Not so easy when you just have to take someone’s word for it.
There was an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (it’s on television now!) Andy’s son, Opie keeps talking about a man he met in the woods. This man walks in the trees. He shines like silver. He makes smoke come out his ears. He has 10 hands. Of course, Andy thinks it’s just Opie’s imaginary friend. Then Opie shows Andy a tool this man gave him. Andy thinks Opie took the tool from someone. Andy insists Opie tell him the truth. Opie swears he IS telling the truth. Andy feels he must punish Opie and Andy is very upset about the entire situation. He just doesn’t know what to think.
Andy goes for a walk to think and, there in the woods, he meets the man, a lineman who works up in the trees. He wears a helmet that shines like silver and has a tool belt filled with tools that he calls his 10 hands. Oh, and he can make smoke come out his ears. As farfetched as Opie’s story seemed to an adult, it was the truth, the absolute truth.
There is nothing more frustrating for a child than having an adult, especially a parent, not believe them when they tell the truth. How horrible when the child needs to tell an adult something terrible.
Thomas couldn’t believe the story the other men told him, even though they all agreed. Thomas couldn’t accept it until the evidence was presented to him, in the flesh so to speak! It is a great kindness to believe a child when they tell you something. Take time to listen.
1. Have you ever told the truth about something only to have someone not believe you?
2. How did this make you feel?
3. Have you ever not believed something one of your kids told you? Why didn’t you believe it?
4. If it turned out your child was telling you the truth, what did you do?
5. Has another child ever told one of your kids a story that seemed unbelievable? Was it the truth? What did they do?
6. Take time to talk about truth and doubt. Sometimes, we have to take a story on faith until we can confirm what is being said. Avoid overreacting one direction or the other.