I would like to receive insights from the preaching community about spiritual mentoring. What is a pastor's responsibility to his associate ministers as far as spiritual training and development? Conversely, what is the nature of an associate ministers responsibility to his pastor? What are the results/ramifications for both parties if the relationship is lacking?

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Brotha, I feel you. But, let me encourage you to enjoy the safe place you currently have. Ministering outside of your church, if you mean other pulpits, has its benefits...as well as dangers. There are some pastors who will be unfair and unkind with you. Where you are has its benefits. Trust me on that one. Enjoy these days and study like you've lost your mind. If the Lord should decide to do so, there could be awaiting you the day when you could have so many engagements that you forget what true ministry and true living is all about. Staying on the road...away from your family...not tending to your flock as you should...not having time for or being too tired to exercise and take care of your body...man, it ain't what a lotta people think it is.

Right now is a great time for you to determine how you want to live your life and KEEP YOUR LIFE BALANCED before so many doors open for you that your life is in a whirlwind and you end up not really living at all. Believe it or not, you can get so busy preaching that you are missing out on the abundant living you call yourself preaching about. Study, learn, preach, teach, relax, enjoy friendships, play golf or something, enjoy the days when you can come home at night and enjoy an evening of peace and quiet as you eat dinner without your phone ringing off the hook. There are so many preachers in the spotlight who are imbalanced. As a result of that, they're in poor health, families are falling apart, no time to take in anything fresh, preaching the same stuff over and over, abounding in sin-I don't wanna sound self-righteous so I'll just stop there.

Let me say this, in terms of preaching outside of your church, seek God for opportunities within your community that need your gift. I used to share the Word in shelters, youth detention centers, schools, etc. The gift God has given you is needed first and foremost where you are-your church. There may also be an audience somewhere else waiting on you to show up and meet their need. A door may already be open for you and you may simply need the Lord to make it clear where that door is. If you are willing to step through some place that may not appear to be all that and a bag of chips, you may find something exceeding abundantly above all you could ever ask or think inside.

In terms of teaching yourself doctrine, I was taught what pastor wanted me to teach and preach so that all the ministers would be on one accord. However, I was encouraged by my mentor/pastor to think for myself and not be afraid to think outside the box. Study on your own so you can formulate your own positions on issues. As you study, bounce your thoughts off of others and see where they are and whether or not they think you're in left field.

Another way to look at your Pastor's approach is perhaps that he trusts you so much that he's not micromanaging you. It sounds like he's allowing you great freedom and flexibility in your responsibilities with what HE has been given oversight of. Don't take that lightly. Take your young adult Bible study to a new level. Are you mentoring any of them? Are any of them crying out for the same thing you're crying out for? Are they longing for you to give them more than you're giving them, but not getting it? Are any of them being mentored/discipled by you or just being taught the Bible once a week? There is a difference between the two. Are you developing any leaders, teachers, or awesome stewards from that group? Who can you look at in your Bible study that has so much amazing potential that you are doing all you can to partner with them to maximize what is inside them so they may bear more fruit for the kingdom? Don't settle for preaching and teaching. Make disciples. I really hope you understand the difference. Develop relationships and let God use you to expand the kingdom. Let God use you where you are and trust Him to put you through those doors He will open for you. Be faithful over a few things now and He'll give you more!

I didn't get where I am overnight. I didn't get where I am trusting others to expose me, either. I have been very, very blessed to get exposure and recommended for churches that I ended up serving in. I was recommended for the church I am currently pastoring. I am indebted to some great, generous, caring men that I served and sought relationships with. They nurtured me through our relationships and our times together away from the church as I drove them to revivals, funerals, burials, etc. But I give God the glory for all the doors He has opened for me.
I am a associate minister in my hometown and face this very situation. You have to connect with others in the ministry who can become mentors to you to help you grow. As you pray to God and ask for this training, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will bring you many connections in the Kingdom.

In the church we face alot of jealousy, strife and malice that comes against the body that affects many in the works of ministry , but we must stay steady, and pray for God's leading in our ministry.
Hmmmmm. You have an interesting perspective. I'll have to chew on it for a minute and allow it to digest. If I understand you correctly, it sounds as though we are to only serve Senior Pastors who have their act together. I have NEVER served a man of God who completely had it all together. HELL, I AIN'T GOT IT ALL TOGETHER. Anyway, because of my travels while in the Marines, I have served various types of pastors. One thing they seem to have had in common, for the most part, was great, obvious favor on thier lives. Imperfect...some with obvious imperfections, and, yet, with obvious favor. Those years taught me an awful lot about God's mercy, favor, and purpose. God will use whoever He wants to accomplish His purpose. Despite David's continual failures, God used Him mightily partly because David was a man after God's own heart and partly because God simply wanted to use David the way He did. I do not advocate half-stepping when it comes to holy living by any means. But, the Bible clearly shows that God will have mercy on whomever He wants to have mercy. We should all desire to serve leaders who are striving to live lives of excellence. No doubt about that. But, I may need some clarity on what you mean by someone who has totally submitted themselves to God and having authority over their own issues.

When I was an associate, I always simply prayed for where God would have me to serve and once I was convinced of where I belonged, I settled down and filled the voids that I could fill in that particular ministry. I had strong bonds with virtually all of the leaders I served and learned a lot from just going fishing with them, driving them to funerals & burial sites, and breaking bread in one another's homes. One thing I walked away with was that God makes unique choices and I'm grateful that He shows me favor and uses me despite my issues. Another thing I walked away with was the importance of developing godly character and striving to keep your nose clean in order to preserve a good name for yourself and your ministry. That, y'all, is crucial. Finally, I learned that many Senior Pastors are extremely busy and although developing and discipling others is a high priority, those who need to be developed/discipled need to bring an awful lot of initiative to the table and study on thier own in addition to what they get from their Senior Pastor.
I feel, according to scripture, the relationship of Pastor and associate minister is like that of a Spiritual father and son. As seen in the example of Paul and Timothy, they had an unique spiritual relationship. Paul taught Timothy the ways of the ministry. Paul had a close relationship with Timothy. However, keep in mind that the view - attitude of the associate minister makes a big difference as well. If the associate minister do not learn or fail to serve in the role that he/she is to display, this will have a long lasting effect on the pastor/associate minister relationship.
Is it possible to have someone be your Pastor, but yet not be your spiritual father? A father gives life. A father protects. A father imparts knowlede and shares his wisdom. A father creates opportunities for learning. A father establishes a legacy. These are just a few of the things that a father does, but all of the aforementioned things are rooted in love. They are a manifiestation of what's in the heart. So... if you are under the leadership of a Pastor who does none of the above..i.e. (never meets with his associates. never discusses the associates development..his/her role in ministry in general or that particular ministry. Never corrects, never builds up...) What exactly do you have? Is it possible that you have a spritual "sperm donor" and not a father. In other words, your calling to preach was acknowledged. You were licensed and perhaps even ordained under that Pastor's leadership. God sanctioned it, but there is no fathering..no sheparding taking place. What does that indiciate? The scriptures state that even a child is known by his doings...
It is hard to be in that situation, because I was once in your shoes. I became frustratred because I did not want to be disrespectful, because the Pastor is your Spiritual Father and I wanted to grow, which I felt I wasn't achieving my goal.
Keyword, I
A hard thing to struggle to understand.......These were my expectations, my own assessments, and my analysis, which resulted because I want or expected to be in a certain place in ministry by a certain time. This is a tough pill to swallow. My will against God's Will. Young Ministers struggle with this daily and satan uses this struggle to confuse God's Annointed.

So how do you work within the Pastor's vision and grow with little guildance or sheparding? Well first, Pray - specifically for your Pastor, not that he improves but that God protects him and strengthens you to support him even more. Sounds crazy but during this time God is preparing you for the time in your life when you become a Pastor.

Secondly.....become active in Ministries!!!!!! You have so much to offer and the world can and will benefit from it. Remeber your growth is not accomplished because you are always taking the lead but because you participated. An idle minister becomes the devil workshop. Stay active.....even with other churches, organizations, and etc. This is not a suggestion to sow roots elsewhere but through Spiritual exhaustion comes spiritual growth.

Lastly, remember this is your season of preparing. Small assignments take very little time to prepare but great assignment that much time to prepare.

I hope this blesses you and please remeber you are never in this walk alone.
Pastor, I really enjoyed reading your comments on this topic. I too believe that the relationship between the Pastor and the Associate Minister can become damaged. I believe that communication and good listening skills between the two is very important; these are the beginning of a good pastor/associate minister relationship that can be built. Young ministers that have the heart to listen to good leadership has the potential to become great leaders. Paul and Timothy had that type of relationship, and therefore, Paul was able to recommend Timothy because he knew the character that he possessed. Very important knowing the qualities of the associate minister in training.
The role of the associate minister toward their pastor first of all is to gain knowledge and instruction. Being in the ministry a total of 17 years, I have served in both areas. First of all, each must know their roles according to scripture. Secondly, their must always be a channel opened for communication. Secondly, when it comes to the pastor, he must understand that it is his role to teach the associate minister. This means that the pastor must take time out of their schedule to make this possible. The associate minister's ministry not only reflects the church, but it also reflects the pastor of the associate minister. Thirdly, when it comes to the associate minister, the associate must be teachable. Too many times, being young in the ministry, associates fail to sometimes understand that ministry takes growth. Growth only comes with instruction. Without instruction, many associate ministry fail in ministry because of the lack of gaining wisdom. In conclusion, simply put, the associate must learn to serve first and allow God to produce within what it takes in ministry. The pastor must be patient and take time with his associate. When these things take place, a productive relationship can take place.
This is a key especially among black churches. I find that in other cultures the mentor is supportive to the letter. Personally, I gleamed all I could under my mentor/pastor but felt that there was more that I could have been instructed in. If the relationship is lacking, we are responsible to seek out those spiritual training and development that you feel you need.
Anthony, I'll be praying for you as you preach your initial message in a few weeks. Just as your pastor told you it's not all about preaching, let me add that it ain't all about crowds, tailored suits, gators, and shouting the church. I listened to Deon Sanders on the Tom Joyner morning show the other day and he talked about how cutting off his "homies" helped him turn his life around. He also shared how this is what caused Mike Vick to get into the trouble he's facing. Don't hang around the wrong types of preachers. Now, its okay to wear tailored suits, gators, etc., but I'm saying that there's much more to ministry than all of that. We are dealing with single women who are frustrated and lonely, single parents who are at thier wits end, HIV/AIDS-is the black woman now the face of AIDS?, racism seeming to escalate, etc. Keep the main thing the main thing: Christ and Him crucified and just as He addressed the issues of his day (Lk. 4:18-19), constantly wrestle with how that applies to the issues of our day.
Hello All,
I believe that before one can have a relationship, mentoring or any other aspect of what is called spiritual, one must have the spirit.there will always be something lacking.
you see even as Parents and raising our Children there is something lacking. Hindsight is always 20/20. A mentor can only provide that which is needed at the time. All the while hoping and praying that the mentorees will grow to become stronger.
I am a Sunday School Teacher, and find myself a many of times mentoring every individual student at sometime or another. And at the sametime having too treat all the same differently. What one needs the other doesn't. the one thing that I have found too be so evidently true is that I myself must be first not lacking in the Life that I live.
Paul told Timothy that he had seen and been apart of much of what he head been through, and too use it as his example of how too conduct himself in different circumstances,
Know that we learn more by watching and listening than we do with all of the conversations.
And also we must have the Holy Spirit because all the while we are looking towards a Man/ Woman of God for our growth and maturity, We make the Truth of none effect. The Spirit is here too teach us in all things.
So if anything is lacking we cannot blame anyone else, nor excuse ourselves.
Let God be True and every man a Liar.
Thank you for your words. What I find is that we have a lot of expectations on our fathers and mothers in ministry because there is and should be an apprenticeship type relationship for preachers (I believe - from sermon preparation, liturgy, fund raising, to church administration). In some cases this training, it is comprehensives and in others it is lacking. For myself, I asked for what I needed and I studied my teacher. Even now, having pastored for a while, I am in another area of learning and am eagerly following my Bishop for this next level of ministry. I don't think I need as much hands on care as I did as an associate minister but I believe that once I do have a ministerial staff, I will attempt to evaluate their needs according to how the Holy Spirit leads. I am more for the comprehensive than the lacking. When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

Rev. Wanda


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