Mentorship is another asset to educating and training individuals for the pastorate. Mentoring provides a more personal and intimate experience with those who are leading and being led. One may see first-hand experiences of the pastorate. Mentoring can be an ongoing, beneficial activity as long as one is open to someone speaking into their life. Mentorship can be time-consuming, but it requires more of a commitment from both parties. Both individuals must commit to availability, honesty, and respect towards one another. In doing so, it is possible to build belief in oneself and help replace followers’ fears and doubts with a sense of value and vision, as explained by Roger Elrod:
Although some followers can believe in the value of a leader’s vision, they may not believe they’re good enough or spiritual enough to fulfill it. They doubt themselves more than they doubt their pastor’s leadership. So, our leading and feeding will be to no avail unless we believe in our people.
A Biblical example of pastoral mentorship is the Apostle Paul and Timothy, the pastor of the Crete churches. Paul’s letters to Timothy were written as a spiritual father to a spiritual son:
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
About mentoring, one female pastor said, “Pastoring can be challenging and draining, but knowing there are others who have traveled the same path. Learning from them and their experiences can be reassuring and encouraging.” Another pastor claimed that one’s experience and guidance of others may help new pastors with overcoming similar situations and frustrations.
From a peer research, the resounding statement amongst ministers, pastors, and Christian educators is oriented toward “Pastoral Mentorship.” They all believed that it would be more positively influential for new pastors than education and training. Mentorship would provide upfront, current, and relevant experiences with today’s congregants and church administration. Mentorship will channel the individual beyond the mindset that pastoring is only preaching, teaching, officiating weddings and funerals, and making hospital visits.
Overall, ministerial education, training, and mentoring are aids for equipping individuals to become better servants of God. As one Christian educator explained, “Pastors must be life-long learners. If God is infinite, then one’s life must be spent ever-searching, ever-questioning, and ever-pressing to know God’s revelation about himself and eternity.”