Subtitle: 9 Essential Characteristics of Influential Christian Leaders, 2005.
A decade ago I took a class on mentoring and had to read Howard Hendricks (As Iron Sharpens Iron) and Ted Engstrom (The Fine Art of Mentoring) among other books. They convinced me of the critical importance of this subject. From my experience in life and ministry, and my observation of both, I am increasingly convinced of the importance of mentoring.
This is not a preaching book, nor is it a book written for preachers. However, if leadership is influence, and if preachers are leaders, then we must consider the issue of mentoring. What a tragedy for so many preachers to pour their lives into preaching (for the sake of others), yet never to invest their lives directly into other individuals. While I might be pushed to agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones that preaching is the highest calling, I would suggest that mentoring is the heart of Biblical ministry.
Ted Engstrom and Ron Jenson teamed up to write The Making of a Mentor. While not setting out to write an endless list of “how-to’s,” they have included a lot of practical and helpful advice in this short book. However, the focus is on the kind of person who will mentor effectively. It is a book of personal testimony combined with a description of godly maturity that will lead to effective personal investment in the lives of others.
They begin with testimony of their own mentoring experience, demonstrating a chain of mentoring down through four “generations” of mentorees. This includes two friend to friend relationships, and one father to son relationship. I suspect some British readers may find the vulnerability and willingness to talk about themselves uncomfortable, but I feel this is a great start to the book. It is a contemporary demonstration of Paul’s self-giving in 1Thess.2 – a passage to which they return repeatedly throughout the book.
The bulk of the book works through nine characteristics of influential mentors, each chapter combining testimony with biblical support and finishing with helpful responses from a variety of Christian leaders in various fields. (I enjoyed noticing people I’ve known at seminary and elsewhere . . . perhaps you’ll know some of them too?)
To pique your interest, the nine characteristics considered are encouragement, self-discipline, gentleness, affection, communication, honesty (vulnerability), servanthood, godliness and confrontation.
I won’t share more detail here, but I would encourage you to get this book and prayerfully read through it. The summary of main points in the appendix is very helpful, the tone is encouraging and the content is often inspiring.
I’d love to encourage more preachers to mentor other preachers, but also remember the greater number of people (non-preachers) ready to be mentored simply by you, a more mature believer. I remember hearing Howard Hendricks describe how meeting with a group of five men every week over a period of time meant so much to him. He said something like, “if I die today, I die satisfied because of those men!” What about you? What about me? Will we die satisfied because of life-on-life investment in key individuals?