COACHING & 15 Essential Questions To Ask Your Mentor Or Coach

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my coaching of church leaders, pastors and denominational leaders I ask them to look over the following questions and ask me one at each coaching session.

By Forbes Magazine Coaching Panel, 11/25/19.

1. Can you help me identify my blind spots?

2. Where are my areas of opportunity?

3. What is holding me back from my next level?

4. How can I make better decisions?

5. Which skill should I focus on?

6. How can I help you?

7. What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

8. Who else should I speak to?

9. What are my end goals?

10. When I look in the mirror, how should I react to myself?

11. Who coaches or mentors you?

12. What might not work in our coaching relationship?

13. What would you do if you were me?

14. What are you noticing about me?

15. Ask them your most ‘burning’ question.

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ACCOUNTABILITY PITFALL #2 & Mentoring Others, When You’re Not Being Mentored Yourself.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D, Church Revitalizer Magazine, Sept /Oct 2018.

Mentee vs. Being a Mentor

… In my personal life I found that as my ministry increased, others wanted me to mentor them. Not only was I honored, but I was told I had the gift of teaching and therefore I enjoyed mentoring others.

But the times when I suffered the most were when I was mentoring others but no one was mentoring me. In my town I sought out the lead pastor of a large nearby church. And though we were very theologically different, we became fast friends and he became my mentor. Later he went on to become the president of a nationally recognized theological seminary.

In the times we spent together in his kitchen, I realized the challenges I was facing he had already faced years before, and he had insights from the encounters. In much the way Paul mentored Timothy (1 and 2 Timothy), a more experienced leader can bring needed encouragement to a pastor who is encountering daily frustrations in turning around a church.

Solution: Find a mentor and submit to being a mentee. No matter how long you’ve been in ministry, there is probably someone who has encountered what you are encountering now, and can offer perspective and biblical insight. The New Testament precedent is a one-on-one relationship with someone who has already countered the challenges which a turnaround pastor is daily encountering.

QUOTE: I suffered the most when I was mentoring others but no one was mentoring me.

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EDUCATION & Local church revitalizes a failing elementary school by sending in congregants to mentor w/ Kids Hope USA program

Commentary by Prof. B.: One of the most life changing ministries I’ve seen a local church embrace is the Kids Hope USA program utilized by College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.

Here is an overview:

“Frances Slocum Partnership Year in Review” by College Wesleyan, June 8, 2017.


“College Wesleyan Church just finished its seventh year in partnership with Frances Slocum Elementary.  Our partnership has created ways for the church to be intentional in loving our community better.  There are many ways volunteers can invest in Frances Slocum Elementary to build relationships, encourage teachers and staff, and work together to build a stronger community with families.

“One way is through our mentoring program with Kids Hope USA. Kids Hope continues to be a strong academic, social and emotional support system for students and teachers. This year we mentored 85 students each week through Kids Hope in the school.

Another way volunteers are involved at Frances Slocum is through our adopt a teacher/staff ministry. We want all teachers/staff members at Frances Slocum to know they are loved, valued, prayed for, and admired! CWC made the intentional decision to provide an encouragement partner to each member of the Frances Slocum family. Encouragement partners from CWC offer support with notes and small gifts along with prayer. “Receiving a gift or a note of encouragement from my CWC family is a consistent reminder that I am not in this alone. It’s amazing to know that I have someone praying for me and my students on a regular basis,” said Mr. Evans, a third grade teacher at Frances Slocum. Teacher luncheons for teachers and staff is another avenue we use to support and encourage. The first Wednesday of each month the hallways of Frances Slocum are filled with the sweet smells of homemade soups, freshly baked desserts, and fresh salads. Twelve volunteers from CWC work on a rotation to supply a lunch to the teachers/staff at Frances Slocum. Teachers come to the lounge, gather around tables, laugh and talk as they are served lunch by our CWC Body. We want to thank each soup maker, salad creator, dessert baker, server, and lounge hostess for their faithfulness this school year. Your acts of love are appreciated and making a difference in the lives of our Frances Slocum teachers/staff….

Many volunteers continue to support and serve our community throughout the summer.  Our partnership with families at Frances Slocum continues through the summer through relational events. Our church sends over 50 kids to summer camps.  We do Kids Hope summer backyard parties.  We do popsicle parties in neighborhoods where our kids and families live.  We help kids earn bikes through our Tandem Bike ministry.  Last summer over 10 kids earned a gently used bike through  doing community service.” (retrieved from

They signed up retired members of the congregation to volunteer one lunch break each week to meet with a mentee and help them with their homework. Not only is this giving purpose and opportunities for retirees, but it’s also raised the educational level of Francis Slocum School. Kids Hope USA is national program they’ve adopted for missional impact.  Here is more info:

Regardless, the program leverages the expertise of our senior citizens which are a growing percentage of our culture with many of the latchkey children that struggle in our schools.

MISSIONAL COACHES & What separates a coach from a mentor?

“Mentors offer great advice; coaches ask great questions.”

“Coaching: The Best-Kept Secret to Growing as an Entrepreneur”

by Zack Ferres, Entrepreneur Magazine, 10/26/17.

… Up to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies now work with executive coaches, according to consulting firm Hay Group…

What separates a coach from a mentor

I posted about this coaching paradox on LinkedIn a while back, and my post attracted a flood of comments. After reading them through, I realized that many people don’t understand the distinction between a mentor and a coach. While these positions might seem similar, there’s actually a world of difference between the two.

“Mentors,” for one thing, don’t usually follow a fixed schedule or require payment. They help with strategic issues, answering questions for founders without actively participating in company operations.

“Coaches,” on the other hand, are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are typically paid, and operate on, a fixed schedule to help entrepreneurs make themselves better. Mentors offer great advice; coaches ask great questions…

Read more:

MULTIPLICATION & Want to Grow Very Fast? Get Mentors and Read Lots of Books

by Jordan Kastler, Inc. Magazine, 7/28/17.

…with the number of tools available today, the goal of becoming a profitable entrepreneur is more achievable than it was ten years ago. Today, it’s easier to connect with people, find mentors who have years of experience related to where you want to go, and read books to accelerate your growth.

I recently caught up with Tai Lopez to pick his brain… An investor, partner, and advisor to over 20 multi-million dollar businesses sums up his occupation…

He attributes his success majorly to mentors he’s had and books he’s read. Here are some excerpts from my chat with him:

Kasteler: Could you share your story of starting out as an entrepreneur?

Lopez: I really started at around age 19 when I partnered with my first mentor Joel Salatin. I was working for him on his farm, and a neighbor farm came up available for rent but Joel said he was too busy to do it.

So I said, “What if I take over the farm, you put the money in to start it, and I will split the profits with you?” He said, “Well, as long as you do all the work.”

I worked on that farm every night when I was done at Joel’s farm, I’d drive an hour and work late into the night on that other farm. My profit after one year was $12,000 after I split and paid back Joel. It felt as a lot of money at the time because I’d never seen that much money–it was a great start. One of the things I learned is that when you’re first starting out, it’s great if you can partner up with somebody who is more stable…

What lead you to reading a book a day?

I already started with that concept back when I was 19. Joel Salatin had a mentor named Allan Nation who was visiting from Mississippi and one day he came down to eat breakfast with us and he started talking with all these interesting stories and anecdotes and facts right off the tip of his tongue.

I was like, “How do you know so much about this subject? I do not even remember it.” Allan said, “Oh, I read a book this morning before breakfast.” This was on a farm, so we were eating breakfast at 7:30 in the morning. And I said, “What do you mean, you read a book this morning?”

He said, “Yeah, every morning before I eat, I read a book.” I asked him how long it takes him and he was like, about an hour. He just sat there and would read a book, had developed a great memory, and that was always a set impression on me. I didn’t always read a book a day, but I went in phases–I’d always have that as my goal and landmark of what was possible.

…put a book and a chair in a little room even if you want to read for five minutes a day…

It doesn’t really matter how long you do it. People make the mistake of reading a lot and burn out. They’re like, “I cannot do that, I do not have the time.”

Well, read a little bit and then build up to it…

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COACHING & 6 Ways to Turn Managers into Coaches Again

by Keith Ferrazzi, Harvard Business Review,8/10/15.

Use regular one-on-one check-ins. Regular check-ins, as opposed to waiting for the annual performance review, allow you to work collaboratively with your direct reports to offer regular insight, knowledge, guidance, and suggestions to help them solve pressing problems, and to help them stay on track for their professional development goals…

Encourage more peer-to-peer coaching. Peer-to-peer coaching offers some of the richest, most valuable learning in an organization..

Create mentoring partnerships. “Some of the richest mentoring I have experienced is through ‘reverse mentoring’ where a younger generation employee partners with a more senior employee and they agree to share lessons learned with one another,” says Michael Arena, Chief Talent Officer at GM, so consider pairing-up team members from different demographics…

Tap into the potential coach within everyone… You can encourage your own team members to become coaches and trainers by allowing them to hold their own mini-seminars on an important topic or skill…

Support daily learning and development activities… Suggest that they digest small bites of content when it fits into their schedules during the day, or look for creative and engaging ways that you can bring learning and development into daily activities for your people.

Seek formal training…Consider seeking out formal training to enhance and improve your hard and soft skills, whether it’s one class, a certification program, or completing a more formal executive education or leadership training curriculum.

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TRAINING LEADERS & How to Create a Formal Training Structure in Your Church #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 197-198.

(In other postings I’ve discussed more specifics of “Apprenticeship” and “Mentoring” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from SpiritualWaypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Churches over 1254 in attendance should create a leadership development and training program. There are three elements that are essential for fostering holistic leadership training.

Element 1: Educate the mind.

Leadership training in a local church often takes place one night a week, with churches offering courses on leadership, volunteerism, management, etc. Too often churches confuse leadership training with theological or historical training, neglecting the former and accenting the latter. While good training has elements of each, remember that the trainee is struggling with hands-on application. Thus a sizable portion of the educating the mind should deal with the principles of application. It is also important to host a question and answer time for application clarification.

Element 2: Educate the hands.

The focus of most church leadership training is head knowledge, but this can be inadequate for hands-on doing is needed too. Remember the story of Len Sweet at Waypoint 6? Len had burgeoning head knowledge about Christianity and Christ, but it was not until he was forced into a ministry experience did God‘s power impact his life. Thus, training should not be only about theory or case studies, but should require the leader to be actively participating in ongoing ministry. And the trainee should be reporting back the results on a regular basis. This forces the trainee to learn ―in the field‖ as did the twelve disciples and the thirty-six teams of two, who reported back to the master the results for clarification, adjustment, and improvement in ministry.

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]Element 3: Educate the heart.

As will be noted in the next section, educating a heart to be sensitive to God‘s nudging, guidance, and correction are critical for effective leadership. Research suggests that formal training often results in less spirituality in a trainee‘s life.5 Thus, to offset the potential to over emphasize head and hand knowledge, a formal training program should include devotionals, meditation, ministry focus verses, and spiritual formation.

Elements 1, 2, and 3 must also be equally balanced. Due to the urgent nature of ministry, education of the hands can often dominate. At other times educating the mind can rule. Yet because supernatural intervention is needed in leadership development, it is educating the heart that is most critical to the process. Let us therefore investigate this area more closely.

TRAINING LEADERS & The Two Rules for Fostering Mentoring #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 194-195.

(In other postings I’ve discussed more specifics of “Apprenticeship” and “Formal Training” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]Mentoring: The Two Rules for Fostering It

1) Organically link experienced leaders and new leaders. This means the mentors and trainees should have a great deal in common, not just job descriptions. If feasible, leaders of similar backgrounds, cultures, and affinity groups should be linked, because communication and connection is best fostered when social and cultural barriers are minimal. For example a young assistant pastor might best mentor a youth pastor, rather than requiring the senior pastor to mentor the youth pastor. Though youth pastor and senior pastor are involved in similar pastoral functions, the cultural gaps between a middle-aged senior pastor and a twenty-something youth pastor may be too great.

2) Communicate both ways. The mentoring process must include clear and candid communication that goes back and forth between the mentor and the trainee. If communication is only one way, primarily from the experienced leader downward, the trainee will not be able to question for clarification, indigenize for their local context, or evaluate for improvement. If this occurs, communication will cease and frustration will ensue.

#StMarksTX mentee mentor

TRAINING LEADERS & Easy Steps to Fostering Apprenticeship in Your Organization #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 196-197.

(In other postings I’ve discussed “Mentoring” and “Formal Training” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Spiritual Waypoints [104KB]Apprenticeship, on the other hand, is more focused action than mentoring. Apprenticeship means focusing on one specific job. For example, a Sunday School teacher might recruit an ―apprentice‖ and groom them to be their replacement. To foster apprenticeship, there are also two fundamental rules to follow.

Require job descriptions for all professional and lay positions. Job descriptions should include:

  • The number of hours customarily required each week to adequately undertake these duties.
  • The leadership hierarchal structure, i.e. to whom the leader reports and those individuals the leader oversees.
  • A detailed description of the task, including paragraph long examples describing: exceptional work, adequate work, and unacceptable work.
  • A reminder that an updated version of the job description is required to be submitted when a person resigns from a job.

Require a designated apprentice for all jobs. In today‘s fluid and flexible culture, jobs will change and workers will depart. Thus, for continuity it is necessary for all leaders to train their replacement, even if the leader does not intend to leave in the foreseeable future. Thus, an apprenticeship strategy should:

  • Be required throughout an organization, and thus be acknowledged by those who are being led, as well as by all leaders.
  • Allow the apprentice to lead (under the supervision of the leader) at least 25 percent of the time.
  • Allow the apprentice to attend and receive the same training as the senior leader.


TRAINING LEADERS & How to Foster Apprenticeship & Mentoring #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 194-195.

(In other postings I’ve discussed more specifics of “Apprenticeship” “Mentoring” and “Formal Training” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Churches often worry about allowing novices to engage in hands-on ministry too soon, especially those travelers who have just completed Waypoint 4: Spiritual Foundations. A common opinion is that travelers need time to ―get to know the way we do things here.‖ Yet one of the most prevalent and productive methods to foster leadership is to encourage hand-on training.

Foster hands-on training and expect failures.

Volunteers must be permitted to roll up their sleeves and engage in actual ministry. Jesus exemplified this when he sent out the twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1–42; Mark 6:6b–13) along with thirty-six teams of two (Luke 10:1–24). And he knew they were not fully ready for everything they would encounter. Since Jesus is all knowing (1 Sam. 2:3; 1 Chron. 28:9; John 16:30), he knew his disciples would flounder at times. And Jesus chose not to prevent this. For example, Jesus knew beforehand that the disciples would not be able to cast out the demons they encountered (Matt. 17:16–19). Yet Jesus used this failure to teach them about the additional preparation needed in prayer, faith, and fasting (Matt. 17:20–21; Mark 9:29). Because Jesus let them flounder and fail, lessons learned would not be forgotten. Therefore, allowing a person to be involved in hands-on ministry, and even to make some initial missteps, can drive home a lesson.
Spiritual Waypoints [104KB]
Foster apprenticeship and mentoring.

In the above biblical story, Jesus did not leave his disciples without advice or follow-up. Jesus beckoned his disciples to live with him (Matt. 4:18–20; 8:20), to travel with him (Mark 1:16–20), to watch him as he ministered (Mark 1:29–45), report back to him (Matt.17:16–19) and to be accountable to him (Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10). This gave his disciples informal learning opportunities, an ingredient that many churches underutilize. Too often new volunteers are abandoned when previous volunteers think they are now relieved of their duty and free to depart. But nothing could be further from the truth. New volunteers need an extended time to learn the wealth of knowledge the previous leaders have accumulated. Returning to our example above, Jesus spent months with his disciples before and after he sent them out. And even then the disciples‘ mistakes dogged their mission.

Such training can be fostered by both apprenticeship and mentoring. Apprenticeship is training for a specific task, while mentoring trains a leader in a range of ministries. For example, a newly graduated seminarian might be mentored in preaching, delegation, worship, etc. This would be an example of mentoring, for the seasoned leader works with the novice in a broad range of duties.

Speaking hashtags: #StLiz

MENTORING & Why having that nearby megachurch mentor you isn’t always a good idea

By Bob Whitesel July 7, 2014

I’ve noticed that newly planted churches will often approach a large church or mega-church in their area and seek to create a mentor-mentee relationship. On the surface this seems like a good idea, for the planted church can learn from the flourishing larger church nearby. However I’ve noticed some caveats that you must consider before undertaking this relationship.

My research on this began during my years as the Minister of Church Growth and Evangelism of a mega-church with dozens of planted offspring. As I talked to the leaders of these planted churches I found that though the relationship with the mother church had began with positive intentions, most now had deteriorated because of three factors.

Recently I consulted for one of the nation’s most well-known congregations. In the process I analyzed it’s many planted churches and satellites. And I found the same three conclusions that I had discovered 30 years ago.

The following observations can help large churches and planted churches avoid these three missteps.

First, the mega-church operates with a different leadership style, because it is a much larger organization. Many mega-churches have not been a small church for many years, even decades. And though the leaders in mega-churches are skilled at leading large organizations, their expertise in start-ups is usually in the past and in a different era. Thus, mega-advice can often be focused on hiring, firing and targeting a niche market. These are things that the small church often does not have the ability to undertake.

Secondly when a crisis arises in the mega-church (as will always happen at some time – be it moral, fiscal or transitional) the mega-mom will often focus mostly on her needs. The small church’s cadre of 50 to 100 people can be viewed as a way to help stem the exit tide in the mega-mom. Thus, in times of crisis the mega-church will often give advice to the planted church that favors the mega-mom.

And finally there is an important caveat regarding the planted church. The planted church often seeks a relationship with the mega-mom because subconsciously the planted church hopes to connect with people who are passing out the back door of the mega church. Often those people are looking for a smaller church environment, but I have shown in my book “The healthy church” that mega-churches can be healthy too, by having small groups and missional communities. Regardless, the caveat is that the offspring (often even unconsciously) seeks to attach itself to the mega-church in hopes of some of it’s mega-success rubbing off.

So what should be done instead? Let me propose three options.

First planted churches must have accountability and mentorship. Church planters and their leadership teams must be involved in a denominational accountability/oversight group or have a network that provides this. The pressures of entrepreneurship often take a toll on families and friendships. Accountability and mentorship are critical.

Secondly, relevant mentorship best occurs when the mentor church has recently grown to the next size level larger than the mentee church. Therefore, the mentor can offer more appropriate advice to the church plant. Gary McIntosh suggests three simple sizes of congregations. Most church plants are in the “fellowship size” and they resemble a group often called the Dunbar Number group (search for info on the Dunbar numbers). This church is under 150 attendees, and that is where most church plants reside. The next size larger is the “administrative church” according to McIntosh. This is the church in the 150-300 range b A growing and recently planted church from this size range would make a good mentor. This mentor will understand the situation of the planted congregation for not long ago the mentor church was in the same situation.

Thirdly, it is critical to have mentors that do not have any potential to benefit from problems in the church plant and vice versa. In other words, the mentor-mentee relationship is best served with each church is not in the same area or has a vested interest in the other. Thus, there is no inadvertent pressure to trade or assimilate congregants through transfer growth.

And so, the best mentors for church plants may not be the large church nearby … but rather a healthy, growing and slightly larger congregation that would not stand to benefit from transfer growth.

Mentorship is critical for planted pastors … but who you choose must be accountable, anointed and relevant. Too often if relationships are not founded on these principles it can undercut the health of both mentor and mentee.

MENTORING & Demystifying Mentoring

by Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review, 2/1/11


  • Build a cadre of people you can turn to for advice when you need it
  • Nurture relationships with people whose perspectives you respect
  • Think of mentoring as both a long-term and short-term arrangement


  • Assume that because you are successful or experienced in your field that you don’t need a mentor
  • Rely on one person to help guide you in your career
  • Expect to receive mentoring without providing anything in return”

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MENTORING & Engage a Micro-Mentor with a Short-Term Project

by Karie Willyerd, Harvard Biz Review, 2/21/14.

“There is such a thing as ‘micro-mentoring’ and you should try it.”

… According to a survey conducted by SuccessFactors in 2012, the number one benefit Millennials request upon being hiring is to receive a mentor. Yet the experience of many mentors, especially those in limited supply such as senior executive women, is that the free-range scope of most mentoring engagements presents a time commitment and emotional investment that prevents having more than one or two protégés at a time. That puts suitable mentors in short supply for young workers. How can you improve the likelihood that you will get access to the best possible mentor? As Jeanne Meister and I discussed in the HBR Guide to Getting the Mentoring You Need, one way to improve the odds of getting the mentor you want is to be sensitive to their limited time through a short engagement. Think really short, as in, less than a month — in essence, a micro-mentor…

Here are six tips for this special kind of mentoring engagement:

  1. Set targeted goals. Select one or two critical goals to focus on, and identify ways of measuring success. There’s nothing more draining for a mentor than a growing list of nonspecific goals and no end in sight.
  2. Find the right person. Look for someone expert enough, but not so expert that they’ve lost the ability to connect with someone at your level. You want someone just out of your league — barely. If you don’t know someone directly, use your network of peers and your manager to find someone…
  3. Identify your role. Be precise about your goals and your commitment to drive the relationship. Explain your role in the relationship, and what you plan to do during the engagement, whether that’s assisting the mentor in specific projects, shadowing the mentor, or having regular discussions. By doing so, you will stand out in stark contrast to those who simply ask someone to mentor them.
  4. Define the time commitment. The more specific you can be, the better. Using the example of someone asking for experience working with customers, you might ask to shadow the expert for one visit with a customer and for the mentor to respond to two structured one-hour interviews over the next month.
  5. Leverage the mentor’s time. Consider buddying up with one or two other peers who have expressed the same interest. The mentor gets bigger bang for the buck, and you gain visibility as a group that pursues professional growth. Your targeted mentor also earns a reputation for nurturing talent.
  6. Stick to your word. Don’t extend the time commitment uninvited or fail to do the things you’ve agreed upon. Instead, at the end of the engagement, thank your mentor and express your appreciation. Ask them if they’d suggest another area you should be developing and who they might suggest as a mentor…

Read more at …

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