One of the greatest privileges of serving as an Executive Pastor is the opportunity we have to come alongside men and women and help them develop in their leadership. The first few months of the year are critical for establishing and communicating a well thought through plan to provide resources and coaching for our leaders. Do you have your mentoring plan set for next year?

I have found Dr Kinlaw’s work on leadership development very helpful as I organize my mentoring plans for each person that I serve (see Coaching for Commitment, 2 ed. 1999) After years of research in a multitude of organizations, he discovered that there were four critical components that needed to be present to help a leader do their very best. To the degree that these components were available to a leader, there was a direct correlation to the level of their commitment to do well. In other words, he was able to measure improved performance that he could attribute to the presence of these four components.

As Executive Pastors, we have a responsibility to provide our leaders with the resources and environments where they can continue to grow and excel in their leadership. As their leadership excels, God’s people are the direct beneficiary of their work—and ultimately the Kingdom work we are all committed to advancing.

Most Executive Pastors I coach have a wide selection of books and resources on leadership but struggle with synthesizing the information into a simple and effective mentoring plan for their leaders. Kinlaw’s components are a great starting place for effective mentoring. I have used them over the years as a template to design the leadership development for each individual, as well as for fostering the leadership culture of my church.

Before I share these with you, I want to make a couple of introductory comments:

1. All people want to do well.

It is difficult to look at a low performer or a struggling leader you have on staff and believe this about them, but it is true. Many times we rush to conclusions because we are frustrated. These components also serve as a checklist for the XP’s responsibility to provide this for their leaders. When I am tired of working with a leader because of lack of progress, I prayerfully review each component, asking God to reveal to me if I have adequately provided what the person needs to do well.

2. A paradigm shift is often in order for Christian leaders in terms of staff development.

Because most of us resource secular leadership information, we have a tendency to adopt the underlying philosophy—this being “success at all costs.” However, we cannot forget that this is a Kingdom endeavor and our “bottom line” is radically different than what the world is pursuing. Thus, all leadership information must be filtered through the Scriptures and reviewed prayerfully. We need to remain committed to our calling of developing people (Eph. 4:11ff) to their God-given potential versus simply increasing their performance for the growth of the organization. As pastors, we must remember that our jobs are a partnership with God who called us to equip and serve His people. He is far more interested in our treatment of others than the “success” of the church. He is the builder, not the guy in the microphone nor the high performance team.

Keeping these two thoughts in mind when putting together your leadership development plans for this year will serve you well.

Crafting a Mentoring Checklist

Now let’s take a look at Kinlaw’s critical components which can serve as a mentoring checklist. His research yielded the following:

“People tend to become fully committed to do their best all of the time to the degree that they:

  • Are clear about core values and performance goals.
  • Have influence over what they do.
  • Have the competencies to perform the jobs that are expected of them.
  • Are appreciated for their performance.”

I recommend that XPs take a day away from the office to craft a mentoring or leadership plan for each person on their staff. You begin by writing the person’s name at the top of the page and then use the critical components (above) in the form of a question. For example, let’s assume John Smith is your worship pastor. The type of questions you would ask yourself as an XP would be:

  • Is John clear about our church’s values and is he clear about his performance goals/what we are asking him to do? What would John say? When was the last time we discussed our church’s values? Does he have a list of performance goals that he is working from? What can I do as an XP to help in this area?
  • Does John have enough influence about what he does week to week in his job/ministry? Is he too confined/restricted? Does he have the right amount of freedom to lead and create? How would John answer this question? What can I do as an XP to help in this area?
  • Does John have the competencies to perform the jobs that we expect of him? What are the key competencies to do well? How does he feel about his competencies? Is there training available to help him improve? What can I do as an XP to help in this area?
  • Is John appreciated for his performance? When is the last time I have asked John if he feels appreciated? How does he like to feel appreciated? How do I know what performance to appreciate? What can I do as an XP to help in this area?

A simple checklist like this one can do wonders to help Executive Pastors focus their mentoring ministry to the leaders in their church. You can also take the same list to develop the leadership culture of your organization/church. Once you have gone through this exercise and made your mentoring plans for the year, I recommend that you schedule a monthly block of time to review and refine your plan.

As XP’s, we have the responsibility and the position to provide for the leadership development needs of our leaders in our churches. My suspicion is that if we ever shared lunch with Jesus on the bay and were discussing this whole issue of mentoring and taking care of the needs of our leaders, He would challenge us to make it one of our top priorities. Pass the tarter sauce.