4 Essentials for Effective Mentoring

mentoring training Feb 27, 2019

by Fran Goodrich

Mentoring is something I’ve grown into accidentally rather than intentionality. A few relationships turned into walking alongside others who weren’t quite as far down the road.

Over time I realized that in these relationships, what my mentee wanted was someone who would listen and encourage, someone who would care for her through the ups and downs, someone who would “serve” her.

My own insecurities and lack of practical mentoring skills held me back at first. But once I began to accept that I had something to offer others, my interest in improving my skills grew.

How exactly do you improve mentoring skills?  Practicing the principles below is helping me tremendously. These four essentials for effective mentoring may help you as well:

1. NOTICING

Intentionally pay close attention to your mentee to see what God might be doing in her life. Practicing the discipline of noticing requires me to slow down, to look around, to be present with another. To be willing to notice someone, you have to take your eyes off of yourself and be interruptible.  

What if the interruption of my agenda is actually a divine appointment? Have you ever noticed how many times Jesus was interrupted? Often the Gospels don’t even tell us what his original “agenda” was about; they only record the “interruption”! (See Mark 2:1-12)

2. PRAYING

Ask God to work in the life of your mentee and show you what he wants you to do to bless her. When you secretly pray for people around you, you join God’s work in their lives, preparing them to be drawn closer to him. You could call secret prayer “praying behind people’s backs.” Nobody but God knows you’re praying.

Here are some examples of how you can take five seconds to simply pray for your mentee after noticing:

  • Lord, she seems very anxious today. Grant her a sense of your presence in this moment.
  • Father, my mentee seems overwhelmed. May your love and presence lessen her load.
  • Lord, I pray for wisdom to help my mentee as I listen to her talk about her marriage struggles.
  • Father, I don’t know what’s going on inside my mentee, but you do. I pray your joy will overwhelm her today in some undeniable way. 

3.  LISTENING

To listen is to demonstrate genuine care, interest, and empathy as you interact with others without editorializing or offering unsolicited opinions. The general lack of listening in our society is astounding! How can we get better at it?

Here are a few ways I try to listen well:

  • Focus on asking follow-up questions that key off what your mentee is saying.
  • Try not to finish her sentence or mentally rehearse what you’re going to say next.
  • Count to five (take a deep breath!) after your mentee stops talking.

As that great theologian, Piglet, once said to Winnie the Pooh: “Sometimes my greatest accomplishment is just keeping my mouth shut.”

4. ASKING QUESTIONS

The key to asking good questions is curiosity, which opens the door to meaningful conversations.

Great questions are…

  • Open ended
  • Questions you don’t know the answer to
  • Questions that build on each other
  • Short and concise

Grow with me in your mentoring skills by practicing these disciplines!

 

Based onThe 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations. Learn more at www.the9Arts.com.

 

Fran Goodrich has been on the staff of Q Place since 1997, where she mobilizes and mentors Christians to facilitate group discussions with spiritual seekers so they can find God as revealed in the Bible.

 

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