If you know me at all, you know that when it comes to ministry, and really just life, I love mentorship. I love being mentored by people and I love mentoring people. I love being poured into, being prayed over, and asking questions while I also love pouring into others, praying over others, and answering as many questions as I can to help someone progress in thought and action. I LOVE mentorship.
However, I’ve found that there is an unhealthy measuring stick used by many pastors, overseers, and organizational leaders in ministry today that goes something like this: The success of a minister is defined by how much they are able to do. How many students can that youth pastor spend time with in a given week, how many people did that associate pastor visit in the hospital, how many school lunches did the children’s pastor go to. We measure successful ministry by how much we (as the point leaders or pastors) do, the extensive hours spent alone working on projects when everyone else is in bed, by how much abuse we can endure after shackling ourselves to a busy schedule that runs us into the ground. Doing everything ourselves – I do the bulletin, I teach the small groups, I preach every time, I design the outreach cards, I, I , I…me, me, me.
I really want you to think about this, especially if you’re a young, ambitious leader, because this could be the most vital concept about ministry that you grasp: pastors and ministers should not be measured by how much they do, but by their effectiveness in equipping and empowering others to do.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. –Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Think about that – pastors who continue to do without empowering and mentoring others don’t only wear themselves and their families out, but (get this) they cripple discipleship. They stunt potential. They leave hungry followers to just starve by the wayside because they can’t do it all. A one-man show is NOT noble. It isn’t humble. It doesn’t benefit anyone. It’s actually selfish, self-centered, and dishonoring to the Lord!
Why? Because we rob others of reaching their full potential for Christ. We rob others who could ultimately do it better than we could. We hold ministry close to ourselves and never tap into the full energy, power, skills, and creativity that the Church possesses and we sacrifice the glorious movement of the Church for a self-glorifying, pat-on-the back ministry of doing it all ourselves that will ultimately never be all that God intended it to be.
If you already have the mindset that, “No one can do it as well as me anyway; I’d rather just do it myself,” or “I just don’t want to bug people; after all, it’s MY job,” you’ve got to stop it.
What’s the answer to impacting your community and world for Christ? Equip the saints. Mentor them…encourage them, help them find their FULL potential in Christ and help them live that out.
This means spending time with them, casting vision to them, letting them know the eternal value of ministry. It means (1) demonstrating it for them, (2) ministering together in that setting, (3) watching them minister, and finally (4) letting go of that ministry to empower them to actually LEAD. It’s all about mentoring and raising up leaders. Forget numbers and programs – just focus on mentoring potential LEADERS.
Mentorship at its core is an incredible picture of discipleship. When you begin to minister like this, you begin to raise up leaders all around you that minister in specific areas even better than you do. You begin to free yourself from doing certain things so that you have the time, energy, and focus to do other things – you begin to multiply disciples rather than just be the lone ranger who is always worn out. This is what you are called to do – pour your life into the lives of others. Equip them. Empower them. Mentor them. There’s no better way to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.