By Sally Jones
The focus of a good mentoring relationship is always on the formation of the mentoree. My role as a mentor is to come alongside them and equip and empower them to move towards achieving their goals, and when I do that in a session I aim to give them my undivided attention. One of the things that my mentorees often say they appreciate the most about mentoring is that it is the one relationship where it is actually okay for it to be all about them – what they need to grow, what they need to focus on to be who God has called them to be. However as I journey along with them, there are actually a few things about myself that I need to be attending to!
The one question I regularly ask myself is this: What do I most need to be fully present to my mentorees?
The answers to this will be many and varied depending on the context, but I want to suggest they need to include:
Preparation time – mentoring takes much more time than the actual session. Have I allocated adequate time in my diary for any reading, researching, thinking or any other preparation I might need to do? Have I completed any commitments I may have made to my mentoree in the last session? It’s pretty obvious when a mentoree has hurriedly thrown together (probably just before they arrived!) something I asked them to spend time reflecting on – and it will be just as obvious to my mentoree if I have done the same.
‘Transition’ time – how busy are the 30 minutes before a mentoring session is due to start? We all have busy lives but it’s important to allow ourselves space to transition from the space of phone calls, emails, meetings, battling the traffic, putting the kids to bed, etc., to the mentoring space. As far as possible, I need to attend to the things which might distract me from being fully present. I find the key to this is finding a quiet spot, being still, and spending some time in prayer – for my mentoree, for myself and for the upcoming session.
Development time – what skills do I have which might need sharpening? Are there areas of development or issues arising in the lives of my mentorees that I need to be learning more about? When was the last time I went to a workshop or conference to add to my knowledge and experience? Being intentional about my development and growth as a mentor enables me to give my best to my mentorees.
Self-reflection time – as I journey with others in their spiritual formation, am I making a priority of my own formation and growth? Who is asking me the kinds of questions that I am asking my mentorees? Who is speaking into my life, encouraging, equipping and empowering me? We cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. Time spent focusing on my relationship with God will enable me to do the same for others.
What items would you add to a self-check list for mentoring?