The Practicality of Mentoring

A mentor is “ a brain to pick , an ear to listen and a push in the right direction” according to ‘ The Uncommon Individual Foundation’, an organization devoted to mentoring research and training.

Many like to be mentored but only a few mentors are found. Mentoring needs to be intentional and conversations between the mentor and the mentee ought to be life giving.

A mentors role at the initial phase

Set the tone

It wholly lies on the mentor, to set the tone, create the environment and wait till trust blossoms between the two. Regular informal conversations, getting to know one another, sharing your own story, successes and failures deepens trust between the mentee and the mentor. This opens avenues for deeper conversations on perspectives of life, struggles and stimulates meaningful discussions. Most mentees become like another member of the family because of the open home that mentors have.

An Open Home

Mentors not only need to open their hearts to a new relationship but their homes as well. An open home might not just mean calling them over home for one meal or for a day. It might mean- many days of stay, many hours of talking late into the nights, rendering a listening ear to the mentee, his needs, his problems,etc -these are vital in a mentor- mentee relationship. Unlike the west, we in India are a joint society and not an individualistic society- this can lead to a greater responsibility of maintaining relationships with the mentees family too. Having an open home can be challenging and at the same time,fulfilling. Challenging in terms of sharing personal spaces, finances and the entirety of your home. There needs to be openness , hospitality, sharing , caring within an open home which mentees learn by observing. Most ideals are caught than taught in an open home.

Sharpening Mentoring Skills

The initial establishment of a relationship takes a longer period of time and effort. Once that is done, there exists openness between the two, to share each others lives with one another. There existed a huge age gap between Paul and Timothy in the Bible ,inspite of this -Paul understood Timothy’s every emotion and weakness and mentored him, encouraging him to move forward in spite of his temperament and weakness. These are a few tips to sharpen a mentoring relationship

Maintain Trust

Being open , transparent, being exposed one another’s successes and failures are vital in a mentoring relationship. It needs to be understood that mentoring is a two way communication process. While it is true that one is more experienced than the other, it also means that this “life sharing” works both ways. Listening to the mentee is more important that bombarding advice on him/ her immediately. Listen- to develop and maintain an environment of trust. Confidentiality is a vital component of a mentoring relationships. Things that are personal and shared in the privacy of this relationship should not be told out or prayed about in public. If it needs to be shared as a testimony or the work of God in his/her life- this needs to be done only with the permission of the mentee. It might take months or even years for mentees to open up about their personal lives and on the other hand -one careless conversation elsewhere about this – would sever the relationship. It is important to maintain TRUST.

Be open to differing views, ideologies

Being in the student ministry, I’ve learnt that it is important not to push your view on your mentee. While you might not agree with his/ her viewpoint- it is important to understand their perspective of life seen through the lens of His precious word. Sometimes both views might turn out to be right. A push -pull or a forceful injection of the mentors perspective into the mentee’s life might end in the wrong way. Paul understood Timothy and his generation and so should we. It is good to pick up topics for conversations that would help you debate, present perspectives, probably argue( might be heated too) and help both parties to deliberate the topic based on God’s word. We’ve had heated debates in our living room with students – topics ranging from coloring hair to LGBT, transgender, dating , etc. Come to a common stand point on Absolute truths and be ready to agree to disagree on minor issues( as long as it stands on Biblical truth)

Be competent to Confront

A skill to be honed is to confront mentees when they go wrong. If the mentor has built a relationship trust and safety- the mentee on the other hand is inclined to accept correction. Confronting can be done politely, lovingly but with the sternness that comes from Christ and His word. Confrontation can make the mentee unusually silent– but that’s ok. Give him/her the space to reflect, pray and bounce back- DO NOT FORCE and even as they battle with certain decisions ( ex: Break up with an unbeliever, decisions on career), stand by them and help them without forcing them. Confronting needs to be done prayerfully and with much discernment.

Ask questions and make them reason

A mentor needs to learn to ask probing questions in order to get into the details of ones life – once the trust is established. While it is important to ask if he/she has done his/ her quiet time- it is more important to ask questions on other issues pertaining to why he/ she behaved like that or had taken such a decision. Questions help to identify a deeper issue . Questions that target emotions( why and how questions), personal fears, reasons for decisions are good to ask. Questions can be about -on what boosts their personality and what drains them out. Questions also help challenge assumptions and it makes them reason and come to conclusion. In my personal experience – questions have led to mentees opening up every detail of their lives and made them realize about themselves, examine themselves in the light of Gods word and make the right choices.


Mentoring needs patience and time. Give the needed space and time for the mentee to develop his/ her character. A tree doesn’t grow in a day and so is character. Wait patiently for the seed sown through various conversations to give fruit in due season. Don’t hurry your mentee to jump to conclusions, take decisions, respond to queries, stand for Biblical values. It happens automatically as the Word takes root in them and they learn to take steps on their own as they rely on God. Being impatient leads to irritability and that in turn would show up in a mentor- mentee relationship. Remember that the Lord was patient with you and so should mentors be patient with mentees. It develops your character as you wait on the Lord to change your mentees life in the right direction.

In a culture where everything happens in a jiffy, mentoring doesn’t work that way. Mentoring is not for the impatient. No one outgrows the need for increased character and competency. May the Lord help us imitate Him as we mentor others to be like Him.

Mrs. Sarah Susannah