A Christianity Today article quoted leadership guru Peter Drucker as saying that the four hardest jobs in America are, in no particular order . . .
- President of the United States
- University President
- CEO of a Hospital
- Senior Pastor
The article’s disclaimer creates some question as to whether or not Drucker actually said this, but based on my conversations with pastors across the country, this idea isn’t too far off. Many Senior Pastors feel the strain of navigating their various roles and responsibilities . . . chief communicator, team leader, wedding director, counselor, hospital chaplain, program director.
With that strain in mind, there is no way a Senior Pastor would lead a mentoring group, right? To get a better idea of the answer to this question, I consulted my friend Ronnie Cordrey. Ronnie is the Men’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. He was instrumental in launching Radical Mentoring at Southeast earlier this year, and he’s currently co-mentoring with Kyle Idelman, Senior Pastor of the church.
I asked Ronnie to share how Kyle came to be his co-mentor and why he thinks it’s essential for Senior Pastors to mentor. His thoughts are below . . .
Here’s how it came to be. I directly asked, “Kyle, will you co-lead a Radical Mentoring group, and will you co-lead it with me?” I did not assume a “no” from him.
And further, here are six reasons mentoring is crucial for Senior Pastors like Kyle. And it’s not unique to him or churches of our size. These apply to anyone in the role.
- It helps keep the Senior Pastor connected to the outer rim of the church – The longer a Senior Pastor is at a church, the more he is naturally pulled to the center of the organization. This becomes dangerous if the only voices the pastor hears are those of elders and senior-level leadership. When this happens, it’s easy for him to lose relevance with the people the church is trying to reach.
- It protects the Senior Pastor from 100% crisis management – The role of a Senior Pastor can be consumed with crisis management . . . praying for and dealing with people whose houses are on fire (i.e., marriage problems, addictions, etc.) . . . this produces sporadic, “one-and-done discipling.”
- It models “leading from the front”– When a Senior Pastor intentionally engages with a Radical Mentoring group, it removes the excuse from literally every man in their church. No more, “I’m too busy to invest in a small group of men for a year.”
- It makes a Senior Pastor easier to follow – Any Senior Pastor who engages in intentional disciple-making is easy to follow because he’s in the trenches . . . it gives him handlebars for saying and living out 1 Corinthians 11:1.
- A Senior Pastor’s sermons will be better – A Senior Pastor’s sermons will become better because he’ll see the struggles of those in his church, up close and personal. A super well-known Senior Pastor who finished co-leading his first Radical Mentoring group came to this conclusion as a result: “I’ve been preaching the wrong sermons.”
- It will increase the quality of the Senior Pastor’s ministry – Connecting him to men he can be real with will help remove him from the extreme isolation and loneliness this role can unintentionally produce. And in doing so, it will increase the quality and effectiveness of his life and ministry.
Radical Mentoring is not the solution to any of the above, but it is a powerful tool to help a Senior Pastor (and church elders for that matter) engage in intentional disciple-making.
Kyle and I are growing as much as the men we’re discipling, which is part of the brilliance of the Radical Mentoring model . . . it produces mutual transformation.
I can confidently say that a Senior Pastor who says yes to Radical Mentoring will be glad he did.
Challenge: If you’re a Senior Pastor, will you consider leading a group? If you have a relationship with your Senior Pastor (or with someone who does), will you encourage them to lead a group?