EPISODE #103 – LEARNING FROM MENTORS
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the boot camp, South Carolina edition, getting a couple of knocked out while we’re here in the hotel. We’ll make sure that we post them all on the face box so
Bob Bickford: that, so I would make one
protein and then I correct it. So I see face box trying to refer to Facebook,
JimBo Stewart: such a stereotypical old man mistake. Thank you. I mean, it just, I mean, I don’t consider you an old man. But you, you have a little, little glitters every once in a while that you go, oh, okay. He
Bob Bickford: is older.
Then when I get a good summertime going and, uh, dress some hipster clothes. And I was asking about my shoes today. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Oh yeah. I am stylish. You are a fashion forward AAR P member.
Picture your shoes on the face box? [00:01:00] Yes. No, that was good. It was very good. Very good discussion that you had earlier today. Very good talk. And it was 99% great except for the base box, except for the face box, but it also brought joy to my heart that you said face box.
Bob Bickford: Now I’m going to be watching with close eye and ear for any gap that you make so that I can bring that up.
JimBo Stewart: Challenge accepted.
Bob Bickford: It was good to be with James and all the South Carolina guys. And we’d see Craig TOK and Johnny Rambo, Paul McKee. And, uh, Tom cats and, um, Scott could tow a bunch of those guys, you know, that are just solid south Carolinians. And, uh, now here I was a little confused watching the video today. And one guy was saying a word that I context, I was like, what is he saying?
[00:02:00] And he was, he was saying mil.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, M I L L like a paper
Bob Bickford: mill wood mill, something. But what it sounded like to me Jimbo was that he was saying meal
JimBo Stewart: where the good South Carolina accent meal.
Bob Bickford: And so, you know, he was talking about his town, a small town that was known for its meal. I can’t even say it. Right.
Like he says it yeah. When the mill closed. And I was like, so what did they have? Like a giant table. They, that like downtown and that I have like, you know, collard greens and fries in front of okra and all that stuff. It’s been good to be here. Yeah,
JimBo Stewart: it’s been great. You got to meet my longtime friend, Casey Williams.
Just a great, great guy. Now I love Casey. Is he also equally appreciated your face box comment? Um, no. Well, Casey, we’ll bring you on here at some point. I promise
Bob Bickford: there’ll be an episode
JimBo Stewart: and a half, right? It’s like, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous, Casey. And I. Uh, go back a long, long way, prior [00:03:00] to Adria and I, and he’s one of the few people that’s known me that long that I have kept in touch with there’s, there’s a couple of people, the list isn’t very long, but he’s on it.
And, uh, we’ve got a lot of good stories on each other that could not make it on a pocket.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, well, we don’t want to have, we don’t be booted off iTunes and fired from Nam, so
JimBo Stewart: we’ll need to really watch our head. It would have to be a separate time. Yeah. So we talked about today. Well, here’s the thing it does tie in because when you, you get to meet guys like James Nugent and Craig tuck and all these great guys that we just got to spend some time with, you always learn.
When you’re with the wind guys, like with guys like that. And one of the, I think the most important principles for any leader of anything is to be a lifelong learner. And he’d be a lifelong learner through reading books and blogs and listening to amazingly illustrative podcasts, like the replant bootcamp.
Absolutely. but a really great way to be a lifelong learner is mentors, and finding mentors. [00:04:00]Can be local important to your life directly, formally, but then also informal mentors that you just choose. Hey, I’m going to watch that guy and I’m going to learn from him. I don’t know about you, Bob, but I can a hundred percent say I would not be where I am at in ministry or in my marriage without a long list of really great mentors that have somewhat directly poured into my life.
In some I have learned from indirectly from watching them. Absolutely.
Bob Bickford: And I think one of the keys you point out is it’s not mentor it’s mentors, right? And, and the idea of having a mentor is I’ve got to have one person who can school me or equip me, or encourage me, or coach me in everything. And that just, that person does not exist.
And I think you look out throughout history, we have some really great. Leaders throughout time who were fantastic in a couple areas of life, but not in [00:05:00] others. And so I think it’s important for us to understand. We need a collection of mentors, not one mentor. And then I think also, you know, there’s, there’s the reality that Christ is a perfect, that he is the ultimate all of our.
Admiration and all of our longings are fulfilled in Christ. And so Christ is the ultimate mentor, right? He’s the perfect man he’s fully divine. And so he Christ sets for us the example in all things. But we’ve got to have people around us with flesh on the skin, on who walk along with us in this season of life and our very seasons of life that help us figure things out.
JimBo Stewart: I would say early on for me, My dad was a mentor to me in a lot of ways. I learned a lot about a work ethic and integrity and honor from my dad, vocationally. Yeah, one of the first guys to really pour into me at a job was a guy named Dino at an Outback steakhouse where I was a bus boy, a dishwasher [00:06:00] and a host and all those things.
And I learned a lot about leadership from him, watching him lead the steps. there’s a chef. I got to train under her name. Robbie Ballou, the man, I learned an immense amount under Robby Ballou. And so here’s the thing is mentors only Christ is the perfect mentor. And I think an important principle in choosing who you learn from it.
Choose people who are better at you, more knowledgeable than you at something, right? It doesn’t have to mean they’re better than you are knowledgeable that you, that everything. And don’t discount someone as a mentor in some people may disagree with me on this, but I, I feel pretty firmly about this.
Don’t discount someone as a potential mentor for your life, just because you don’t align with them. Theologically. I believe you can learn from just about anybody I’ve been really. I’ve just about anybody in your life. You can learn from anybody. Sometimes you can learn what not to do. I wouldn’t call them a mentor, but I do believe that in your interactions with [00:07:00] people, as you watch people, you can learn from everyone.
even in vocational, you can learn life lessons from people that. May not be in your career field quote unquote or may not even believe a lot of the same things you believe, but you can still learn things from them. Obviously we weren’t alarmed theological things from people that are theologically astute, but there’s a lot of areas of life to be mentored in, in marriage and raising kids, and all kinds of things.
And so it made, I, I am always accruing mentors in my life in all aspects of it. Whether they realize they’re mentoring me or not. There are some people I just tell them, Hey, I’m watching you. I try to find ministry leaders who have raised kids that have left the house and loved Jesus deeply and serve their churches as, as lay members or in ministry.
Well, and I I’ll tell them, Hey, I’m, I’m, I’m watching you. And I want to learn, I like help me know how that happens. That was your things [00:08:00] I want to see happen in my life.
Bob Bickford: I think you’re, you’re the challenges that we face in terms of finding mentors is we may have approached it like this we’ve we, we find somebody that we want to learn from, and we might go up to them and say, Hey, would you mentor me?
And that’s a pretty threatening question. Right? And so I remember, there was a movement back in the day. You know, when I was first starting in ministry and my wife, and there was another young lady in our church, the first church I started in and they were both trying to figure out, okay, well, what does it mean to be a Christian woman our age?
And so they saw a lady who’s a great lady. She served a lot in church. She was really awesome. And so many ways that we saw. And so they both kind of said, well, why don’t we just go out to spend time with her? And so they came with the mentor question. And it really kind of freaked the lady up. And she, she had some areas in her life that she was aware of, that they were not aware of.
And she declined because she was like, yeah, I can’t mentor these people because I think if somebody comes and says that to you, it’s a pretty mega, how am I? Like every, every model has got to be [00:09:00] ACS. Right? And so there’s none of us that not a single person who has a life that is, that hits all the marks everywhere.
Right. We always have particular areas of our life that we’re always being sanctified. Trying to figure out or, you know, we’re not as strong. So I think finding a group of mentors and also finding people who are good in certain things is, is vital, is key. And so I guess there’s some things I would say to some, some of us, we’re not discipled or we’re not mentored much.
And in an intentional way where somebody came to us as a younger person that said, let me pull you close, let me teach you a few things. So most of my experience has been informal. Right. And I kind of grew up in that stage where it’s like, you got to figure it out on your own. Right. And you got to do it on nerves.
And so part of that is I’ve had to collect groups of people in my life that I thought, okay, I like how they do Holly, tell me, preach, like how this person does, like staff leadership. I like how this person does marriage, et cetera. And so I’d come put together a group of mentors. [00:10:00] Gleaned from them. So it sounds like a lot with what you have done.
So what I would say is be discerning in your mentors. You don’t have to agree from a hundred percent on everything. but I wouldn’t go too to be mentored by somebody who wasn’t living the way that I thought I needed, you know, in a way that, that I wanted to be mentored in, like, if they were, if I was looking for a marriage mentor and I picked a guy that was really bad at marriage, not smart.
Right. So, I mean, that goes without saying, but I think you just have to clear that.
JimBo Stewart: can I tell a funny marriage mentor story, that involves someone who periodically listens to our podcast. And so I’m not going to give them the heads up. Okay. I’m going to wait until he listens to this episode. And then I’ll receive a text message from him.
There’s a pastor in our city that is now my pastor at the church that I attend named Dr. Mark Siegel. I love mark. I love his heart. I love. As a pastor of them as a friend and several years ago at a difficult point in ministry where the turmoils of replanting had [00:11:00] started to take a toll on our marriage.
We were at a JVA pastors date night event sitting at a round table, and we happen to sit with mark Siegel and as well. And I’ve known. I knew some about mark Siegel. I knew that he had a therapy background, counseling and had done marriage counseling with some people. And he was a pastor. I knew that he had done revitalization and some, even some replanting and some other things like that.
And so I also watched that night, how he interacted with his wife and I looked at Audria and I said, Hey, what if we asked them to be our marriage mentor? And she goes, yeah, we were just desperate. We needed. And so we asked them that night they were enthusiastic and said, absolutely. And then we never heard from him.
Bob Bickford: Aye. Aye.
JimBo Stewart: That’s when it became this running joke of, how they saved our marriage and our marriage really did improve. And, we we’d gotten to a great place just because you asked them [00:12:00] to be here. No, because we put in work, we went to counseling,
but, uh, so when we were considering going to the church, we were like, you can finally mentor us in our marriage. And, I give him a hard time about that. but I do tell that story for two reasons. One it’s funny, but two there’s a lesson to be learned in that you can’t put the weight on the menu. Yeah.
And that’s a mistake I made, right. If I really wanted him. So you can hear me relieve you of all this tension and pressure mark. This is not your fault. This is my fault. If you really want somebody to mentor you, a couple of things, one, you might not, if they are not someone who is accustomed to mentoring people formulate, I wouldn’t recommend asking them, mentor you.
I would recommend take them to coffee. Talk to them. Hey, I’m trying to learn how to do better at parenting, or I’m trying to let her learn to be better at preaching. Would you be willing to give me some advice? Sure. I’ll just start there and see where it goes. Cause here’s the other deal you don’t know.[00:13:00]
They might not be a very good mentor and you may ask to be your mentor and now you’re stuck and yeah, just ask them for advice. Just start the relationship. But here’s the other thing that I learned with that with mark is if you really want somebody to be your mentor, you, you put in the work. To say, Hey, can I buy you lunch?
What’s a good day. This month that I can, I can buy you coffee or lunch. And during that time, if you could just pour into me for a little while and don’t put it on them to chase you down or schedule, it’s not up to them, it’s not their responsibility. If you want them to mentor you, that’s your responsibility.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. I think that’s a good approach. And I think this, you know, the question we always would ask on a podcast like this, or discussing a topics. How formal does it need to be, or how informal? And I think most of what we’re talking about is informal mentoring that you pursue personally, and then, you know, with a person, a real person that you can have a relationship with, uh, or a connection with or meeting with.
Right. And, and the [00:14:00] other thing that, that you’ve mentioned, I think by, in the introductory part of our talks on this, books and podcasts and sermons and seminars and all of those sorts of. And I would also say this, there, there even have been insignificant conversations that I’ve had with people at the end of a conference or the break in a conference where I’ve walked up to somebody who’s been part of the program that said, Hey, I got a quick question for you.
Can you answer this? And it’s almost like it’s a divine appointment and the Lord gives him the exact word that they, you know, it’s a word maybe that I was not expecting that would come from them. But it’s the word, it’s the wisdom that comes from a mentor hearing the question that I’m asking that needs a different answer than the one unexpected.
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. And so, those times have been very valuable in shaping in my life cause me to make a turn rather than reinforced my, my particular thought [00:15:00] or paradigm or prejudice. And so I look at those kinds of, by the way, incidental mentorship moments as really key. Those are, those have been some really groundbreaking, like turn right or turn left moments in my
JimBo Stewart: life.
I, I think informal mentorships can be incredibly powerful picking certain people that you see humility in and other things you can learn from those people. But there there’s great formal mentorships. I had a guy in new Orleans named Dr. Gerald Gerald. and Gerald Spicer, it’s not a name. Most people would know, but he’s accomplished a lot in his life.
And, uh, he was actually, the, the number two executive pastor under Charles Stanley for a long time. And he came and to our, our staff and coach, our staff at this church, I served at in new Orleans for awhile. And here’s what here’s, I mean, here’s the thing. He did some things that radically changed my life.
Certain books that he suggests I read and worked through and discuss with him are books that I still, where [00:16:00] you read in impact my life. I was a Radic. We’ve talked about this before. I was a radically messed up mess. Organizationally. I had zero organizational skills whatsoever and he made me start thinking he made me move from just big picture, visionary to execute.
And it was not muscles. I liked to flex at that time. I love that now. I mean, I, I it’s, my bread is my, I love it. I love thinking through, talking through processing, how do we take a big picture and how do we move that into concrete, next steps. But that wasn’t natural in me. I had to get that and he saw it in me and he poured into me and pulled that he pulled that out of me.
Rick Wheeler. I would not be where I’m at right now. If Rick Wheeler hadn’t seen something in me important to me, Bob Bumgarner right now, his mentor, me, Bob Bickford right now is mentoring me a couple people mentor me right now. Don’t know it as Brian Croft and mark Hallock. [00:17:00] Uh, those are guys who are humble and Jesus Levin and accomplished great things in their ministry for the name of Jesus, but they don’t over platform themselves.
they platform others and encourage others in do. Uh, gospel centered work and I’m watching those guys and I’m learning from them. And I have access to learn directly from them, some, but they’re guys who I learned, but they’re also guys who have never met and will never meet their dead guys. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has mentored me through some really dark seasons.
I think, I think the reason I’m rambling about all of that is I, my hope for you listeners, you would have a really long list and I haven’t listed it yet. But you would have a really long list of people that have, that you are intentional about letting people influence your life. you can’t go about life.
Assuming you have things figured out you don’t, you don’t. and you’ve gotta be a lifelong learner. I’ll tell you one of my favorite [00:18:00] lifelong learner moments of watching it. Yeah. A mentor of mine named Walter Bennett. Rick two of my mentors, Rick Wheeler and Bob Bumgarner. If they were going to be another chapter in the book of acts about what God has done in Northeast Florida, without a doubt, Walter Bennett’s name would be all over it.
And he’s planted tons of churches and mentored tens of people. And, he’s an older fellow now, but still doing ministry, right? He is on the face box. Not very well, but he’s, but he’s on the face box. But there was this moment at a church planter assessment event that I was helping run where there’s a guy in his early fifties giving a presentation.
And the title of the presentation was how to have longevity in ministry. Walter Bennett in his eighties is sitting there. Feverously taking notes. Walter buddy, if there were ever a seminar, you could skip, man, this is it right? I mean like you understand, like he [00:19:00] has grandsons that are planting multiple churches.
I mean, this is, I mean, generationally, this dude has impacted. I mean, it’s insane. And so I asked him, I need, so I asked him, and that’s the key thing for you to listen, to just ask people, Hey, why don’t you do that? Help me understand. So I said, well, I just gotta know, man, I I’m watching your feverously take it.
I saw you. Feverously taking notes during that guys talk. And I said, this is a talk you could so easily skipped. And he said, brother, I’m not done. I’m in his eighties and said, I’m not done. And it was an impactful moment for me to think you’re never done. Right. You’re never done learning and you’ve got to always be a lifelong learner and one of the best ways to do it.
Is learned from people directly and, and here’s the deal. They might surprise you. I’ve been very surprised by sometimes I’ll have, I’ll read a book that impacts me and I’ll have a question about how it applies to my life directly or my ministry. And I’ll find a way to try to email that author because why not?
They might ignore it. Chances [00:20:00] are they’re probably going to ignore it, but they might answer. Sure. And now I have a fairly friendly relationship with Les McKeown, the author of predictable success, because I keep emailing him questions and he responds and we discuss, so we’ve had zoom calls and we discuss.
And so now he’s a mentor. He may not know that, but he’s a mentor. Sure. I guarantee you, he listens to the PI.
Bob Bickford: He right. He was on the podcast. He was on the podcast. Probably our most famous guest. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Nope. And so here’s the deal. He was super down there at about the whole thing. Yeah. And so just ask, and I’ve learned that a lot of times people, when they write things, they love to discuss it with you.
And so email them, ask them a question. But don’t over ask, right? Don’t be an a not be inappropriate. And just like, don’t let your first B email be, Hey, can we have a two hour zoom call once a week where you into our main life? Yeah. I mean understand that they’ve, they’ve got a life and, and, and [00:21:00] I think that would be an important piece for us to think about is make sure you respect the amount of time that they can give you.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And I think a couple of other thoughts in that I’d love that suggestion, be prepared with. Couple of good questions, not a notebook full of questions.
JimBo Stewart: Well, balancing that, you’re going to say not a notebook full of questions and not no questions. Yeah. Don’t just leave it open and go, Hey, mentor me.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Like here’s, here’s specifically what I’m wanting to learn from you, but don’t give him 17
Bob Bickford: things. Yeah. And then also I would say don’t debate them. Right. And that’s, uh, I’ve had a couple of conversations with some folks who called to ask me a particular question and then. I listened to the question.
I get a sense of it. Maybe I clarify the question, make sure I understand what they’re asking. And so then I respond and then they debate me on it and I’m just like, okay, like what did you do? Or were you looking for me to endorse what you already believed? Or were you asking me to give you feedback on what you just said?
So the first thing. [00:22:00] Yeah, so I’m like, ain’t nobody got time for that, right? No,
JimBo Stewart: that’s a very good point. Like respect. Yeah. Somebody is taking time, right? Chances are, if they’re a person you’re wanting to mentor you, they probably have a pretty full plate. Right. And so be respectful of that. And don’t overuse the access to
Bob Bickford: yes.
Yeah. And I would say this too, because I’ve had, I had a mentoring relationship like this in a worn me out. And I just was like, it was really exhausting to me. And, um, it was a ministry, a guy in. Who, whenever you would hit a rough patch, he just came and wanted to have a conversation about all the difficult things he was experiencing.
And basically this unload, all this frustration on me and I listened for a while. And then I’d say, here’s, here’s a couple of thoughts and he didn’t really want to hear my thoughts. He just wanted me to be a sounding board or he wanted me to be a receiving Lord, [00:23:00] basically for him just to dump all of his frustration on me.
And that’s not me.
JimBo Stewart: No, that’s that’s that’s counseling and say, here’s the here’s. The other thing is I’ve done some training as a, as coach, like a coaching, not like athletic coaching, like leadership coaching. And one of the things they tell you when you learn how to do that is in those types of relationships, it is very helpful to very clearly define a relationship.
And when you coach somebody even specifically. That you start out with, are you wanting me to be your mentor? Are you wanting me to be your coach? Are you wanting me to just be a friend that we listened to? Because all of those will look differently in the amount of time I can give you in how those relationships will work.
And there’s, it’s good to clearly define those relationships. And then here’s the with coaching and I wouldn’t, and you can do this in mentoring, like write that out. Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to give you one hour. Yep. We’re we’re [00:24:00] going to meet for that one hour. And, and, and it’s it. It’s not that oh, that I don’t like talking to you.
And so I wanted to in an hour, but that person’s got a schedule, they’ve got a life, they’ve got things going on and you can’t, you can’t drag them out to, to ed. If they say one hour, keep it in an hour. Right. And if you, if they don’t say, ask and say, Hey, I have several questions and I really would love to learn a lot from you today.
Well, we can continue this discussion. Another time whatever’s convenient for you. How, how long is an appropriate time for use today for so disgusting? If they say 25 minutes, then buddy’s twenty-five minutes and wrap it up. Don’t now, if they say no, no, no, I’m good. Let’s keep going then keep going. But just be really respectful in the whole process of their time and their availability that they’re offering you and giving you, uh, and you know, you buy their coffee, you buy their lunch and find ways to think.
For investing in you because it’ll make a huge impact man in your life. If you’ll [00:25:00] continually have people pour into you. And sometimes those are just one time we have, I don’t have some people that we watched them parent kids. And we were like, well, you just sit down with us for like an hour and talk to us about parenting and they did.
And that was the only time we met to talk about it. But it, there was so much wisdom there that we kept and still use to this. And so continue to be in that posture of man. I want, I want to learn from other people.