Emotionally Healthy Mentoring

I really enjoyed hosting the Australian Christian Mentoring Network’s training seminar in Adelaide today.  The keynote speaker was Keith Farmer who led two sessions on Emotional Health in Ministry.  Tony Ling (a friend from Tassie days) and now senior pastor at Victor Harbour Baptist Church led a session outlining his doctoral work on burnout in clergy.  During the afternoon we workshopped some mentoring resources and worked through a case study on emotional exhaustion. 

Members of the network in breakout discussion groups. 

The ACMN website has further materials however I have linked a number of resources I spoke about today to my own site. 

www.mentoringnetwork.org.au

For my resources see below:

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MEQ Graduation

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On 25th November I had he pleasure of participating in the final workshop for the MEQ 3 training program which Sally Jones and Peter Moore have facilitated 2014-2016 in Sydney.

Participants were warmly affirming of the training and spoke confidently about mentoring as an important part of their future ministry strategies. I praise God for another cohort of men and women equipped for this vital ministry.

Sally and Peter will be launching another three year training course in May 2017, and you can find the details at MEQ Training NSW.

The 10 key mentoring issues raised by pastors

This year I have been mentoring and journeying with pastors for 20 years.   Over this time we have reflected together on hundreds of challenging personal and ministry issues.  Mentoring does not provide easy answers in these areas of concern.  It rather creates space for sharing, questioning, exploring and seeking creative pathways.  In future posts I would like to share some resources in each of these areas.  For now I will list the top 10 personal and ministry concerns raised with me by pastors I have mentored..  

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Why pastors need mentoring

DR DANIEL WONG

Do pastors need mentoring? Aren’t they the ones who are to mentor others? Why is it crucial for pastors to be mentored? The biblical example, the challenges of pastoring, the importance of character development, and the need for encouragement are some reasons why pastors need mentoring.

The Biblical Example

Those in ministry need others who are more seasoned to provide guidance and support. It was Barnabas who was called to work with Saul, better known to us as the Apostle Paul. Barnabas got to know Paul, vouched for him before others, and worked alongside him in ministry. Then in turn, it was the Apostle Paul who worked with his mentee Timothy to provide him instruction on how to carry out ministry and use the gifts God had given him to serve as a pastor. Much of that mentoring was done by letter, as encompassed in 1 and 2 Timothy. Today, some of that correspondence might have been done by e-mail!

The Challenges of Pastoring

The nature of ministry easily makes it a highly stressful and challenging career. How many other careers are 24/7, involve the entire family with even designations like PK’s (Pastor Kids), and can encompass one’s whole existence where work life, family life, and personal life often intertwine? While everyone can evaluate stress-related life change using the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, clergy and clergy spouses have additional Rating Scales to identify factors augmenting their stress.

Pastors are often like General Practitioners who need to have a wide range of knowledge and skills. No wonder the term “seminary” means “seedbed” where one only plants a foundation for ministry and then enters the school of experience.

The Importance of Cultivating Character

Externals – in numbers, dollars, and size, often measure ministry. The great temptation for pastors is to conform to chasing the externals more than cultivating character. Of course this begins with the pastor. The pastor is to lead by example.Character development takes intentionality and time that a mentor can help encourage and hold the pastor accountable. We hear of too many fallen pastors.There are those who have even fleeced the sheep! Ministry needs to flow from character. Mentors play an important role in prodding pastoral character development.

The Need for Encouragement

Pastors need encouragement as they are prone to get discouraged. Pastors often have great expectations for the congregation, expectations for oneself, and even for God to do a mighty work. These expectations can be unrealistic and even beyond what God might desire. It is often noted that pastoring is a lonely profession.Pastors need a mentor/companion to view the situation from the outside, to note what good things are happening, and to offer perspective and prayer support.Personally, I have mentored pastors for many years. Some have served as pastors or interns in my previous churches and those who serve in other churches. I not only provide encouragement to others but I myself am encouraged and inspired as well. The pastoral waterways are not an easy to navigate. A mentor is a spiritual guide along that journey. Even I myself have a mentor who is also a certified spiritual director who really points me to the ultimate source of hope and help, our God.

Daniel L. Wong is Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, Tyndale University College & Seminary, Toronto To contact Dr. Wong, please use his e-mail address: dwong@tyndale.ca;