Mentoring: Open up, share what we have
Mentoring is a key strategy of senior pastor Reverend Albert Ndlovu of Lobengula Brethren in Christ Church, Zimbabwe. Raised in this environment, leaders are now serving in the United Kingdom and South Africa – still connected to their mentors at home in Zimbabwe. Reverend Albert Nlodvu explains the role of mentoring in discipleship.
What is your philosophy of mentoring?
Albert Ndlovu: The lifestyle of every believer should example from Jesus who had 12 disciples that were very close to him. He still had even more (70) disciples.
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is the philosophy of discipleship.
A believer should live such a life that someone watching from a distance should desire to copy. This is not to be done only by pastors.
Is there a strategy for finding a mentor?
Albert Ndlovu: When I find a person who is available and shows interest, I begin to develop that potential. I bring people close to me and start giving them work to do. I take them with me when I go for ministry.
As a mentor, you must appreciate that your disciple is different from you. The mentor should be able to nurture the potential within differences in approach.
We shouldn’t be afraid that the people we mentor will not live up to the expectation. As mentors, we should also not be afraid to make mistakes. After all, we are all learning and growing every day.
What tools and methods do you use to disciple?
Albert Ndlovu: Mostly group discipleship. We organize leadership training seminars which contribute a lot to the shaping of leaders we now have all around.
Sometimes you can mentor some people indirectly. Our current bishop has made several references to instances where his life has been impacted spiritually from what I said.
In your early days in ministry, who mentored you?
Albert Ndlovu: Dr. Nicholas Benson Mnkandla, a pastor at BICC Mpopoma, played a major role in my growth before he left for the USA to undergo theological training.
I would go with him to the places he preached to people from different denominations. Sometimes, I would give a testimony. He would take me to the mountain for prayer early in the morning. At other times, he would even take us to beer halls to preach. But sometimes, he would not take me with him even though I would really want to go with him.
All this was part of the process of training me for leadership and ministry.
In the USA, my mentor asked Bishop Philemon Khumalo who was completing his studies to continue discipling me. Back in Zimbabwe, Bishop Khumalo encouraged me and convinced me to go for formal leadership training. I could say he really spoiled me, as he taught me a lot, motivated me to be very confident in my ministry, and instilled in me some key principles.
What have been the benefits of mentoring you have seen over the years?
Albert Ndlovu: It is so fulfilling in life to see someone you have seen with a passion grow and develop to become what you have seen in them.
What words of encouragement could you give to leaders?
Albert Ndlovu: We need to understand that we can never do this work by ourselves. We need to open up, share what we have with those coming after us.
The church does not belong to the pastor but to us all: the ground is level.
—Maqhawenkosi Mhlanga is a member of Brethren in Christ Church Lobengula. He interviewed Reverend Albert Ndlovu as part of an assignment for his studies at a theological college in Zimbabwe.