The following is from this book: Bob Roberts Jr., The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).

Only the pastors who are willing to mentor young leaders will be able to plant churches out of their church. I do not consider myself an expert in this area but a practitioner because of various ministries and projects in which I’m involved. From being a pastor, to discipling a group of men, to working with church planters, to being involved in global development projects, here is some of what I’m learning. I learn more from our interns and others I work with than they probably get from me.

(1) Live the life and do the stuff you talk about. Bobb Biehl has taught me that credibility is gained by three threads: results, time, and character. Results are simply what is seen. People generally listen not because of what you know or what you did, but because of what you are currently doing. Character is who you are. No one is perfect and everyone has flaws. Time gives us the ability to see the good and bad and helps us filter counsel from someone. It is the ability to be consistent over time.

(2) Teach first from what you’ve experienced. Anyone can write or talk on a subject and yet not be a “doer.” Those who “do” and those who “talk” often sound similar, at first. However, the deeper you go, the more you learn the differences. What may sound like semantics actually becomes a key issue. Those who “experience” it will generally read more and more because they want to understand more.

I’ve learned over the years that there are two ways to gain influence. One is by what you know — people want to hear you talk about that. The other is by what you do — people want to hear the stories of what you’ve done and how you did it. Teaching is passing on information. Mentoring is life-on-life. The more healthy experiences a mentor has, the more he or she has to share.

(3) Let others be around you in your context. This is something I have to relearn repeatedly. Whether we are in church or overseas, or involved in a project or ministry, being together is crucial. People who are busy doing don’t always have a manual or journal near them to write down everything while they are working. (And if they did, they wouldn’t stop and write in it anyway.) They’re caught up in what they are doing, and living it is their passion. So, it’s important to allow people to watch you while you do it.

(4) Hold people accountable. Good mentoring doesn’t start by hugging, but by listening, observing, and then challenging. We generally hug too quickly and challenge too late. We should first present a challenge and then hug when they do it or at least attempt to do it (even if they fail and want to try again). Ask yourself, “What am I trying to produce, and what does the person need?” Often, we let our own emotional vacuums color our relationships with the people we are trying to mentor. I’m not afraid to say to a young guy, “Hey man, you gotta work on this,” or “That ain’t gonna cut it.” When a character flaw or negative personality trait arises, I ask him, “Why do you think you’re like that?” I affirm such people when they do or say something remarkable: “Wow, that’s incredible!”

(5) Give them bite-size things and watch them. Don’t give them the whole load — just a part. See what they do with it. It’s the parable of the talents — you’re going to find out who invests and who hoards. I think one of the reasons why I wind up being asked to mentor or meet with a lot of guys is because it pays off. They’ve seen consistency and growth in specific areas that continue to open more and more doors. That happens when you are faithful with the two talents you’ve been given, not wishing you were a ten-talent guy. The point is not how many talents you have, but how you invest them.

(6) Watch what’s unique about others and help them discover their own uniqueness.

(7) Let them see who you really are. Admit your faults. They already know them and can see them. They aren’t asking you for help because they think you’re perfect. When you’re honest about your weaknesses, you will increase your credibility with them. Let them see you at work, but also let them see you laugh, weep, sweat — everything you are.

Bob Roberts Jr., The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).

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