In our prophetic role, pastors need to challenge people to keep the faith, fight the good fight. And often that means giving a forceful word to the congregation.
The other side of being prophetic, the side that the mentor highlights, is being an encourager. The goal is the sameliving faithfully a Christian lifestylebut the means are different: encouragement, affirmation, praise.
As a mentor I don't want to tell people what God's will is for them; I want them to discover it for themselves. And that happens best, I've noticed, when I affirm what's going right with a person.
- Express encouragement regularly. A young lawyer in a class I taught recently wrote a paper on 1 Corinthians 15. He didn't just parrot back my lectures, however. He went beyond what I had taught, doing his own study and making his own breakthroughs. He grappled with issues we hadn't discussed in class; he dared to draw his own conclusions. It occurred to me as I read his work that I was learning from this student. So on his paper, along with his grade, I wrote a note saying his ideas had inspired me.
Sometime later he told me that little note had bolstered his confidence to work through his own thoughts and draw his own inclusions. I had confirmed that his thinking was sound, that his ideas were exciting and helpful to me. He began to have the confidence that he could teach.
I didn't plan for that one note to have that impact, but when I regularly encourage, some of my notes and words will.