Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ramblings on "Down to earth mentoring" by Fred Smith

It's Thursday already and I am feeling a bit under pressure.  So that's always a reminder to pause and try and "re-center". So it was nice to read this e-mail from Breakfast with Fred. 
Pastoral ministry inevitably is connected with some form of mentoring, whether one likes it or not :-)

One thing that struck me afresh in general is that mentoring and ethics go hand in hand. After all mentoring (Christian spirituality perspective) is about character development. On his questions. I love them - down to earth indeed. Will let you read his article first, then my comments (if you decide to carry on reading!)

"Down to earth mentoring"

What is the strength of your ethics?  Let’s find out by asking four questions.

1. Are you using a scriptural or a secular base?  In other words, are you using God’s law or man’s thinking  J.C. Penney, the respected merchant, said “I shall not be judged by the heavenly Father according to what I do nor by the material success I achieve.  I shall be judged by the honesty of my purpose and by the spirit with which I pursue life’s duties.”  He felt his work was his worship.

2. Do your ethics promote self-respect?  I was once asked, “How do you know when you have compromised your self-respect?”  The only answer I had was simple:  when I wake up in the middle of the night and try to talk to the little boy inside me who still knows right from wrong and he tells me to get lost, I know I am in trouble.

3. Does your ethical base accent responsibilities or rights?  I notice any individual, group, or society which accents its rights is constantly in conflict with others.  Responsibilities have a way of overlapping and forming a bond; rights clash against one another causing friction.  When we accent rights, paranoia eventually occurs.  Paranoia often results in “end justifies the means” thinking which is immoral.

4. How does your ethical base impact your character development?  A fast-moving executive came to me to talk.  “Fred, I’m really not happy with who I am becoming.  I’m not a better husband, a better father, a better citizen, or even a better person.  I’m successful, but I’m becoming a phony.”  Character is an inside job, largely determined by the succession of choices, desires, habits, and beliefs we inculcate and personify.

This week think about: 1) Who am I becoming? 2) What is the foundation of my ethics? 3) How effectively will my ethics hold in the tempest of temptation?

Words of Wisdom: “Responsibilities have a way of overlapping and forming a bond; rights clash against one another causing friction.”

Wisdom from the Word: “Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately." 2 Timothy 2:15 (NET) 


Do you have comments or thoughts about this week's Weekly Thought?
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To read more writings of Fred Smith go to

The Weekly Thought from Breakfast With Fred
Copyright ©2010 BWF Project, Inc.

No.1. I was reminded recently again of what a "lousy" counselor I am (not that anyone of late has complained about this to me or anyone! :-)). But it did strengthen my personal conviction that I should make no apologies for my self imposed 3 sessions "counselling"  requirements (very much like the ACT Party's "3 strikes and you are out!":-). As a pastor my counselling is based on biblical teaching / ethics and it is free to boot so take it or leave it! 

No.2 . Nice. There is too much unwarranted focus today in the church about self esteem. I like Fred's focus on "self-respect". Focusing on self respect is not only more down to earth but I think helps correct as lot of unbiblical psychology that has crept into the contemporary church.

No.3. Thank you! Nice to have someone I admire bring up the importance of "responsibilities" over "rights" . It's driving me crazy that in the world and church at large, so much weight is placed on "rights". Basic human rights are important. I would agree but I think it is gone way too far. I mean how silly is it that individual rights include such things as "the right to be entertained during worship" - music, songs, sermon ... etc. Or the right to be happy and undisturbed while waiting to go to heaven - cheap grace with no discipleship.... Better stop here :-)

No.4. A good tree will bear good fruit, and the proof is in the tasting ... nice affirmation as I go through my series on Leviticus! Too tired to explain how this connects :-)

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