Your effectiveness in ministry will largely rest on whether or not you have wise, Godly, and humble mentors around you. These mentors can encourage, challenge, occasionally chastise, and regularly pray for you and your ministry. You can call on them when you face difficult tests, and you can count on them to have what’s best and biblical for you in mind when they offer you counsel.
Your effectiveness in ministry will also largely rest on whether or not you can distinguish between these kinds of mentors and their imposters: meanies. These kinds of people approach you from a position of counsel, but all they have to offer is critical observations, ungracious words, unfair judgments, and bad advice. They don’t know you, they don’t particularly love you, and their influence isn’t good for you. Actually, their influence can crush you and mess you up for a long time.
Here are some key differences between ministry mentors and ministry meanies.
1. A mentor says hard things to you in a way that builds you up. A meanie says harsh things to you that leave you feeling like you’ve been beat up.
2. A mentor loves you. A meanie judges you.
3. A mentor encourages you. A meanie discourages you.
4. A mentor comes to you from a position of humility, being no better than you. A meanie comes to you from a position of arrogance, as one who is superior to you.
5. A mentor reminds you of the Gospel. A meanie reminds you of your failings.
6. A mentor checks in with you for no other reason than to connect. A meanie only connects with you to criticize you.
7. A mentor has a lot of patience. A meanie has a list of grievances.
8. A mentor builds you up to encourage your strengths as gifts from God. A meanie tears you down and suppresses your strengths as if they’re problems to be managed.
9. A mentor helps you think wisely. A meanie tells you how to think their way.
10. A mentor pushes you to stand up and take wise risks. A meanie pushes you to sit down and play it safe.
Not only should those of us in ministry learn how to distinguish between mentors and meanies, but once we identify the meanies, we need to avoid them. Yes, love them. But protect yourself, your ministry, and your family from their toxicity.
Instead, pursue Godly mentors who will be a gospel-presence in your life, resulting in you blossoming in effectiveness in the soil of God’s grace.