Self-Check List for Mentors

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?

Mentoring in 5 key areas

by Keith Farmer

The role of the Christian leader, particularly the role of leading a local church, is one of the most diverse and difficult vocations in our society. The pressures and stresses of Christian leadership have led many to abandon ministry, and in some cases to abandon church and faith altogether.

My personal experience as a leader and mentor has led me to conclude that although the skills of ministry leadership are important, character issues are even more important. Effective ‘doing’ comes out of effective ‘being’. What we do is based on who we are. Effective transformational leadership over an extended period of time depends deeply on the Christian character of the leader. If character unravels under pressure, then ministry leadership is severely and adversely affected.

Mentoring is therefore an ongoing relationship of choice on the part of both the mentor and the mentoree. It is the equivalent of the GP medical checkup that is designed to monitor the vital signs for ongoing health. It monitors 5 key areas of the leader’s wellbeing:

  • Spirituality (how are you and God?)
  • the health of key relationships (how is your relationship with ???),
  • emotional health (how are you coping with workload, ministry, people, conflict, staff relationships, how is your level of emotional exhaustion – give me a 1 – 10 score)
  • general lifestyle health (are you sleeping well, eating well, getting time off, how was your last day off?, last retreat day?)
  • vulnerabilities (what vulnerability at present could the evil one exploit to take you out of ministry?).

The key qualifications required for a mentor of Christian leaders is that the person has had significant experience as a Christian leader themselves (probably at least 10 years and preferably longer), and that they are still in good shape i.e. they still love God, their family, the Church and people in general.

Christian leadership is such a personal and multi skilled vocation that I would suggest the Mentoree also has a Coach (for what they do), and that they are strongly embedded in a ‘Ministry Leaders Support Group’ where honesty is fostered by each confessing – “I am a pastor” etc.

My experience tells me that Mentoring is best seen as having a “Relational” emphasis where the mentoree is asked – “How are you going?” – and he or she is able to talk about whatever is on their heart and mind. It then gradually evolves into the Mentor checking, through pertinent questions, each of the 5 key areas mentioned above.

The regularly, length, mode and place of mentoring have many options! I find 4 or 5 contacts per year each of 2 hours for an individual and 3 hours for a couple works well for most leaders.

Mentoring overlaps with, but is not synonymous with pastoral care, counselling, coaching, and supervision. I believe at its heart mentoring is basically about discipling and is vital for Christian faith as well as leadership.