3 Essential Elements of Mentorship

It’s seems the church world has gone leadership crazy.

Everywhere you turn, there’s an article on leadership:

  • How to Spot a Leader
  • How to Be a Leader
  • How to Build Leaders
  • How to Lead Leaders
  • the list goes on and on

One would think that the Great Commission was, “Go into all the world and make leaders!”

Now don’t get me wrong. Leadership is absolutely essential. Every pastor knows that everything rises and falls on leadership.

However, with a never-ending tsunami of articles telling us we need to develop leaders, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and underachieving.

Every pastor knows they need to be mentoring new leaders, but the problem is HOW??!!

I don’t know about you, but I need mentorship boiled down to a few simple basics.

So, where can a pastor turn for a simplified approach to mentorship?

We turn to the Master mentor – Jesus.

When I read the gospels, I see Jesus focusing on 3 essential mentoring elements that raised up a powerful procession of leaders: CARING / SHARING / PAIRING



“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NIV)

When Jesus wanted to build leaders, He called them to a relationship before He assigned them a role.

So much that passes for leadership development today looks more like skills-based employee training rather than love-based mentorship. The very first step to build into a leader is to build into their life. People need to know that you love them before you can lead them. The only way I know of to develop love for someone is to spend time with them – to do life with them. If the only time you are spending with someone you’re developing is “on the battlefield,” then you are communicating that you value them for what they do and not for who they are. Doing life and showing love are essential ingredients for mentorship.

So what are some ways we can do life with burgeoning leader?

  • Leader retreats
  • Meet one on one
  • Do lunch together
  • Form a leadership small group
  • Have them over to dinner

Caring is where you are showing them the why before the what.


The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” (Matthew 13:10–11, NIV)

Jesus ministered the crowds, but He mentored the core. He shared the lessons of the kingdom to the masses, but showed the life of the kingdom to His mentees.

When someone comes to you for mentorship or development, it’s because they want to see behind the curtain (https://youtu.be/YWyCCJ6B2WE). They want an insiders view of what it’s like to be you!

In the early years of my marriage, we had some real struggles we needed to work through. We had seen a few Christian counselors over the years, but I never felt helped. One day while meeting with one of my mentors who I looked up to as the model Christian leader, the subject of marriage came up. Feeling ashamed and discouraged, I shared some of the struggles I was having and how I felt that I was a terrible husband. He chuckled and then proceeded to share with me his own struggles and failures. In fact, he had just had a major blowout with his wife that past week and he told me how he had messed up big time! I remember leaving there that day with more hope than I had felt from all the other counselors combined!

Church leader, share your struggles not just your strengths. Tell them how you got through what you’ve been through and let them know God’s not through with you.

Jesus gave the 12 an inside view of His life and they learned more from His lifestyle than they did from His lectures.


I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15, NLT)

I left the practical part for last. What I love the most about Jesus’ approach is how incredibly hands-on He was. This was no seminary class or academic experience. It was real-time OJT.

At my seminary we were required to intern somewhere before we graduated. I interned under a Young Adults Pastor in a large church. Knowing that I was called to be a lead pastor someday and wanting to build healthy teams, I asked if I could sit in on a staff meeting. My mentor said he would need to ask the powers to be. Several weeks went by and when I brought it up again he told me, “Sorry, the senior leadership wasn’t comfortable with having you at one of their meetings.” I was crushed. I remember thinking, “How am I supposed to learn what I can’t even see?” As it turned out, my internship became a glorified grunt job.

Jesus didn’t dump tasks; He built teams. He didn’t just give ministry assignments TO them. He did ministry WITH them.

Never do ministry alone.  For every task ask, “Who should be doing this with me?”

Dave Ferguson shares a formula for mentorship in his book, Exponential:

I do. You watch. We talk.

I do. You help. We talk.

You do. I help. We talk.

You do. I watch. We talk.

You do. Someone else watches.

Sounds simple, yet it is incredibly powerful.

The fastest way to develop people is to double up and then deploy. Train ’em then trust ’em.

Mentorship is really just focused discipleship. It’s all about building relationships where you:

  • Care for them.
  • Share with them.
  • Pair with them.

What would you add?

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