Talbot Davis ~ How a Reluctant Mentor Learns to Be an Adequate Leader

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Those who know me well know that  I have made confessions like:

I’m better at leading the congregation than I am at leading the staff; or

I’m a disciplined person but not a very disciplined leader; or


I’m better at dealing with one or with 2,000 than I am with 12.


To a certain extent all those things are true.  I will always more naturally incline towards pastoring and teaching than I will to leading and mentoring.

However, I have recently come to a realization that has helped me enormously in increasing my leadership ability when it comes to both the staff at Good Shepherd and younger clergy in the United Methodist Church.

It’s this:  take what has become second nature to me, put it on paper, and then share it verbally with team members.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

*I’ve done so many funerals and memorial services through the years that preparing eulogies has become second nature.

*I’ve knocked on enough doors of new movers into our area that the script for Bless This House has become second nature. 

*I’ve had so many counseling sessions with men who are addicted to pornography that sharing with them the steps into recovery has become second nature.


*I’ve followed up with enough first-time guests that the process has become second nature

*I’ve even done enough marital counseling that the agenda for a first session with a couple has become, you guessed it, second nature.


And my natural wiring is to store up that second nature information inside me – essentially, to approach ministry like I do a singles match in tennis! 

All that is why through the years, on occasion I have become frustrated with team members or younger clergy who weren’t responding to those same ministry opportunities in ways I thought they should.

But then it hit me:  it’s not second nature to them.  You need to take the time to spell out all those years and all that stuff you have running around in your head and share it with them.

That process, in turn, has become great fun – especially if you have either staff members or younger clergy who have teachable spirits.   

So we’re having some smaller staff meetings that become verbatims (for those of you who remember Clinical Pastoral Education), shoring up counseling abilities.

It’s why we now share much more of the sermon development process.  It’s even why I am learning to take the time to show team members what is involved in the seemingly mundane task of composing hand-written notes to first-time guests.

Because in the big picture, mentoring is about turning what is second nature into a first priority. 

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Talbot Davis is the pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, a modern congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina. He helps lead a talented group of pastors and support staff. He is the author of Head Scratchers, The Shadow Of A Doubt, The Storm Before The Calm, and Solve, all available from Abingdon Press. In another life, he played a lot of tennis. He married up and has two children.

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