1. Start With One
When Moses’ father-in-law Jethro saw Moses answering all the disputes for a nation of 2,000,000 people (600,000 men plus women and children) he told him “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
So Jethro proposed an ingenious plan. Put others in charge of groups of 10, 50, 100 and 1,000, leaving Moses to deal with the Level 1,000 issues. (Ex 18:17-26)
This plan is often referenced by megachurch pastors when they talk about how to organize a church in rancher mode. But those references usually leave us small church pastors feeling left out – again. We’re not ranchers, we’re shepherds. And we don’t need Level 1,000 Leaders. Many of our churches don’t even need Level 100 or Level 50 leaders.
But every church needs – and can disciple – a Level 10 Leader.
So start there. With one. Find one person who has exhibited the smallest seeds of an ability to lead 5-10 people. Like any parent or grandparent in the church. Parenting is Level 10 leadership, after all. Or the teenager the other teens follow.
Don’t be intimidated or discouraged by the lack of Level 50 or Level 100 Leaders – or even the need for it in a church of 25 people. Start with one person who can become a Level 10 Leader. Every church has one. Even yours.
2. Listen – A Lot
Maybe the biggest mistake we make in mentoring is teaching people to become like us, instead of like Jesus.
Helping someone become like Jesus doesn’t start by talking at them, but listening to them.
Notice how many conversations Jesus had. If anyone ever had the excuse to say “I don’t need to hear what they want, I have the answers,” it was Jesus. But he never did that.
Jesus did what we need to do. He had conversations. Conversations in which he listened to people’s ideas, preferences, fears and hopes.
When we listen, we learn things. Like what gifts, skills and personality traits God gave them. Then we can use one of the primary advantages mentoring has over curriculum – personalizing it.
3. Do Ministry With Them, Not For Them
Mentors don’t spend a lot of time alone.
If you’re an introvert, that last sentence just gave you the creepy-crawlies. I know. I’m one, too. I need serious alone time to be able to function.