Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Leadership Training Page 1 of 2

coaching or mentoring
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Do I need a mentor or a coach?

In the last while, I have been thinking about how to strengthen our mentoring within SEND. In a recent analysis of leadership development within our organization, I noted that we needed more intentional mentoring of developing leaders by our current leaders. This is a gap in our current leadership development. Thinking about how to fill that gap has naturally led me to try to define mentoring. How is mentoring different from coaching? SEND U has already sought to create a coaching culture within the mission. More than 200 people in SEND have received some type of training in coaching. So, do we need both mentors and coaches?

Defining coaching and mentoring

A significant difficulty in answering this question is that the definition of coaching varies so much. For example, Lois Zachary and Lory Fischler in their mentoring fable, “Starting Strong” say,

Coaching is more instructive, but mentoring is more of a relationship. It’s not about me telling you what to do and you doing it.

Lois Zachary & Lory Fischler, Starting Strong: A Mentoring FAble, p.21.

Developing leaders: a perspective from Timothy and Titus

When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, he showed concern about transitioning to new leadership. He demonstrated a commitment to developing the leadership capacities of Timothy and Titus, his delegates to churches he planted. He is quite concerned about leadership development in the churches. While these letters are not leadership development manuals, there is much we can learn from them. I find five leadership essentials in the letters to Timothy and Titus that should guide leadership development.

CHARACTER MATTERS

Character matters a great deal to Paul. The qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are mostly behavioral characteristics. As many commentators have pointed out, most of these qualities are expected of believers in general in the New Testament. Church leaders ought to be models of mature Christian character. Christian leadership qualifications encompass the totality of the person, not just skill in ministry tasks.

Saul was not ready

1 Samuel 9 introduces us to a very promising young man named Saul, a young man who we soon find out has been destined by God to become Israel’s first king.  He is from a good, highly-respected family with wealth and influence (1 Sam 9:1).   He himself is physically impressive, tall and handsome (1 Sam 9:2). But this young man has a problem – his father’s donkeys have wandered off, and he and his servant have already spent three days looking for them without success.

At this point, we come to an interesting discourse that gives us a window into Saul’s spiritual formation up to this point in his life.

Crucibles

When God prepares a person to serve him in a leadership or other significant ministry role, he often chooses to use crucibles. Crucibles are small pots used in chemistry labs in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature. In the middle ages, alchemists used crucibles in their various attempts to forge gold out of base metals and various strange ingredients. But Webster also defines a crucible as a difficult test or challenge or a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions.

The Scriptures speak of the crucible as an instrument for purifying silver, but always in the context of some type of testing for the purpose of refining.

Reaching and Teaching in Animistic Oral Cultures

In my last post we looked at Sills’ book Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience. This book is clearly a follow up to this work. It is in essence an application in practice of the principles in the earlier book. “This book explores how the Lord led missionaries to minister effectively among a specific people whom he called to himself: the Highland Quichua people of Andean Ecuador.”(pp. 2, 3).The book highlights the challenges of reaching and teaching an oral people group with a long history of syncretism:

Are we reading all of Matthew 28:18-20?

A review of M. David Sills, Reaching and Teaching: a Call to Great Commission Obedience, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010.

This book has sought to bring awareness to those who have been lulled into thinking that God wants us to simply reach them. He doesn’t. He wants us to reach and teach – reaching them with the saving gospel message and teaching them to observe everything that He has commanded. (220).

So ends Sills’ book.

Still Learning from Roland Allen 100 years later: Contemporary applications

At the SEND Family Conference in July, I led a workshop on what we can still learn from Roland Allen’s book Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? a hundred years after it was first published. Allen’s key principle of submission and dependence on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God was the focus of the first blog post. In this blog post contemporary application of Allen’s principles will be the subject.

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