Patrick Lai on Mentoring [Book Excerpt]

One of the 11 building blocks of BAM or Business for Transformation (B4T) is “having a good mentor.”  Patrick Lai writes about this in his new book, Business for Transformation – Getting Started new on Amazon this month. Here’s an excerpt on this key topic.

Mentoring – Accountability

My wife has been known to say, “I love ministering. I just wish it didn’t involve people.” Every one of us is a sinner. We each have areas of temptation and sin. We need spiritual elders who will walk alongside us to assist us in maximizing God’s glory in and through us. In many situations, peer accountability is fine, but my research shows peer accountability is less effective than elder accountability. I think this is because peers leading one another are like the blind leading the blind.

In business, most reporting is done verbally, face-to-face. Bosses meet or communicate with their direct reports daily. We want to both see and hear that the work is being done and being done correctly. In business, people do not write up reports about themselves. Whether we are Christian or not, when we write up reports about ourselves, we are revealing only what we want to tell. And if we are honest, most of us view our work and ourselves better than we really are.

Business uses a proactive model for gathering information and responding to problems. Business strives to solve problems before they happen. Most missions and churches have a reactive model. When problems arise they are quick to deal with them, but my hypothesis is that many of these problems should never have occurred in the first place.

We need a well-rounded perspective that invites another pair of eyes and ears to watch our life and work. People who are personally accountable look at obstacles as a part of the process and rather than give up, they are energized by them. Workers who have a tendency to blame others or fail to accept personal responsibility for their actions will most likely stall in any entrepreneurial endeavor. Whatever our temperament, we need to be subject to real accountability. We need someone who understands our background and is going to help us integrate all areas of life and work (marriage, family, team, business, God, character, etc.). This must be someone who will hold us accountable to make sure that everything stays in balance. We need someone who will be critical of our results despite the good it does. Just because we are feeding hungry people does not mean we are doing what is best for the people. We need mentors who will ask the hard questions and patiently guide us when we are struggling for answers.

A good mentor is proactive, initiates contact, builds intimacy, and strives to work to keep the mentee on the course God has put him or her. Mentors hold people truthfully accountable for what is going on in their marriage, their family, their team, their employees, their business, their evangelism—every area of their life and work. Mentors do not set goals; mentees do. In this way mentors know where God is leading and help to speed the mentee along God’s chosen path. Mentoring is relational and personal accountability. It is not gathering data. It is what Jesus did—life-on-life accountability.

As a footnote, we need to remind ourselves that education and training lead to potential, not performance. Consultants make recommendations, but without getting involved. Coaches utilize questions to draw out the thinking that is within the individual, helping them to solve their own problems, but no actions are required. Mentors, on the other hand, bring skills that disciple and help the mentee to run on his own. Mentoring that is done well is relationally based. A good mentor is committed to understanding and then guiding the mentee to maximize his/her experiences and talents to the glory of Jesus. In the OPEN Network and NexusB4T we stress that mentors are to be a cheerleader, confidant, fund raiser, recruiter, coach, consultant, accountability partner—an advocate for the mentee.

Excerpt from Patrick Lai. Business for Transformation – Getting Started. Pasadena CA: William Carey Publishers, 2015 p. 199. Posted with kind permission.

From the back cover

B4T Patrick LaiBusiness for Transformation focuses on answering the question: “How do you start a business that transforms communities of unreached peoples?” Starting a business cross-culturally involves thousands of decisions. Until now, BAM and B4T practitioners have been lacking a tool that explains how to start a business that engages unreached people for Jesus’ sake. This book draws on years of experience from scores of OPEN workers who are BAM/B4T practitioners. BAM/B4T are among the faster growing segments of the worldwide mission movement. It is written for new workers and coaches who need practical guidance in setting up and doing business in hard, church-less areas.

BAM is about shaping business for God and the common good; bringing solutions to global issues like human trafficking, poverty, creation care, and unreached peoples. Patrick Lai’s book is an important guide for those who are serious about transformational business, especially in areas where the name of Jesus is rarely heard. This book is very practical with tools, stories and resources. Read it, use it!

Mats Tunehag – Co-Chair, BAM Global Think Tank and Senior Associate of BAM, The Lausanne Movement

eBook now available from Amazon

Patrick Lai first and foremost describes himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. During his thirty-one years in Asia, the Lord enabled his team to gather four groups of Muslim believers and start several small businesses. He authored Tentmaking: The Life and Work of Business as Missions, as well as numerous articles on BAM. He founded the OPEN Network, a network of over 700 B4Ters, BAMers, and tentmakers. Currently Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach B4T workers in unreached areas and teach extensively around the world on this new paradigm for doing mission in a changing world.