Think about the most formative, influential pastors in your life. What do you think has made them the effective preacher they are today? Are some people born with a natural gift in ministry, or is there something else?
In his trending post at The Gospel Coalition, Derek Rishmawy reasons that mentorship is one of the most important influencers on young pastors. His study on the life of theologian John Calvin has revealed three important lessons on mentorship for both younger and older pastors.
First, choose your mentors wisely. Under poor mentorship, Calvin became stubborn, confrontational, and inflexible. Likewise, new pastors often take on the character traits of those they look up to. Rishmawy suggests finding someone who shows characteristics you need to cultivate. For example, if you are a fiery type, you may need a cooler head speaking into your life.
Second, listen to correction from your elders. In his early years, Calvin fired off angrily at a future mentor. His mentor’s response was wise, gentle but firm—and showed Calvin his own impatience and arrogance. While young pastors have the benefit of enthusiasm and energy, it’s important they also know how to submit and receive instruction from those who have come before them.
Third, look after up and coming pastors. Just as Calvin’s mentor came alongside him, so pastors should pay it forward and provide care and attention to the next generation of pastors. Setting aside time for discipleship should be a priority for the health of the church as a whole.
If you’re looking for some practical guidelines on mentoring young men and women in the faith, Melissa Kruger has five principles to make the most of your time. “One of the most intimidating things about entering into a mentoring relationship is the fear of failure,” Kruger writes. “Openly communicating about expectations and considering these principles can help to begin a relationship that will bless both participants. This type of discipleship builds the church in powerful ways. Be encouraged – mentoring relationships are worth the time, energy, effort and thoughtfulness you put into them.”
As Rishmawy notes, “‘Calvins’ don’t just happen in the church. They are the result of a church culture that values wise cultivation of leaders, both through the submission and humility of the youngsters, and also the patient, faithful oversight of the elders.”
We want to hear from you. What do you think makes an influential, effective minister? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.