“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin
There is more to being a great mentor than talking about your work over coffee.
A great mentor knows that words alone do not create purpose driven action. A great mentor does more than teach, they live life beside their mentee. In The Making of a Mentor, Alicia Britt Chole calls this: “Living shoulder to shoulder.”
Jesus was the number one example of a great mentor. He invited his disciples to walk beside him to learn and to put into action what they were learning so he could help correct and encourage them along the way.
Here are 10 steps to being a great mentor:
- Pray. Pray for one or two people that God would have you mentor. If you have been given the gift to do what you love every day, God is calling you to pass along your knowledge and passion for your work.
- Set session expectations: Establish a mutual timeline and guidelines for mentoring. How long will this mentoring relationship last? What is your expectation as a mentor for the relationship to continue (i.e. mentee does their homework before next meeting.) Make sure to establish personal boundaries as well.
- Be prepared for your meeting. Two days prior, I suggest sending your mentee a worksheet asking them specific questions (Make sure they return it before you meet.) For example: What questions do you have for our time together? What would make you feel successful about our session? What progress have you made on the assignments you have from our last meeting? On the day of the meeting, set aside a few minutes to prayerfully reflect on the worksheet.
- Open and close your mentoring session with clarifying questions. Many times, the questions the mentee writes down or asks first is not the real question, issue or goal they are trying to achieve. Be patient and slow to answer the first question they ask you.
- Listen attentively. The best mentors are those that allow the mentee to discover the truth through dialogue and reflection without being told the answer. This builds confidence in the mentee.
- Mentor from your strengths. Don’t try to be someone you are not. This will inspire and encourage your mentee to pursue their own purpose and honor the strengths and differences of others.
- Be honest. Most mentee’s ask for mentorship because they want to grow and change. If you see a roadblock in their lives, use storytelling, clarifying questions, and compassion to help them get unstuck.
- Hold your mentee accountable to take the next step. Great mentors are focused on the success and forward movement of their mentees. Accountability is key.
- Have passion for what you do. Vision is more caught than it is taught. Never talk negatively about your organization or your experience with people within it.
- Lead by example. The number one gift you can give someone you mentor is not only your passion for your job but your passion for Jesus. Let the light of Christ shine through your life into theirs!