Mentor or Tormentor
I met for lunch with Pastor Leonard DeWitt (Ventura Jubilee Fellowship) a few years ago. As most of you know, he has pastored for decades – yet he continues to preach to a wonderful congregation that he planted a few years ago (at a time when most pastors would be enjoying retirement).
As we enjoyed lunch together, he made the comment that he was either “a mentor or a tormentor.” I laughed out loud at the table.
Leaders have the responsibility and opportunity to mentor future generations of leaders. This is an important priority for pastors and spiritual leaders. Yet many abdicate this responsibility. Instead of mentoring, they torment young, emerging leaders.
Leaders can easily criticize and point out blind spots – yet not with a helpful and hopeful approach to encourage growth and improvement. Rather, they put younger leaders down to assert their position and authority.
This is tormenting.
Peter writes about tormenting in his first letter – he identifies it as a behavior of secular leaders who “lord it over them” (1 Peter 5:2). That is not the way spiritual leaders act. We are to shepherd young leaders. We invest in their development. We point the way. We lead them to places of discovery, fruitfulness, and ongoing growth.
As I have worked with pastors and leaders, I’m amazed at how many are busy doing the work of the ministry – yet failing to equip others to do the work of the ministry. It’s as if they think that helping others to grow and succeed will make them useless to the body. One example of this is when pastors don’t develop other preachers so that the church remains dependent on their preaching.
[Side note: I think this way of thinking is messed up. Your church family should not be dependent on the pastor to feed them. They should depend on the Good Shepherd to feed them. And pastors need to develop self-feeders– sheep who know how to feed themselves.]
A mentor strengthens and encourages other leaders.
- To strengthen = challenging others to stretch and grow
- To encourage = supporting others to press on when it’s tough and to refuse to give up
This is what Paul and Barnabas did as they returned to the churches they had planted. They were “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22).
Take a moment to evaluate your efforts to strengthen and encourage leaders in your church.
Are you a mentor or a tormentor?
- How would young leaders in your ministry describe you?
- How are you pouring into their lives so they can rise above your influence?
- How may you be putting them down so they will never rise above you?
Mentor or Tormentor – the choice is yours.
This blog post is from the August 23, 2022 Vinia Newsletter.
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