Some Helpful Tips for Mentors

  • Choosing Topics:

    1. It might be good to use a 3:1 rhythm for who decides the next topic (for every 3 times the student chooses the topic, the mentor gets to choose one).  

    2. This is to allow for areas of discernment the mentor is picking up on that the student does not yet see or is hesitant to address.

    3. Make sure you are not working harder than the person you are mentoring.  Let them take responsibility for their growth!

  • Environment:

    1. Places to meet: somewhere on campus (if a student), a coffee shop, your home/porch/back deck, a park, on a walk, a restaurant...Find out if the student prefers meeting in the same place/same time or wants to switch it up occasionally.

    2. Be sure the environment you choose has enough privacy so the student feels free to share. This can be a public place, but where others they know aren’t likely to be around.  For example, the college cafeteria or a coffee shop where many of their friends go might be too distracting.

  • Expectations:

    1. If you are on a college campus: Check with and understands the expectations or limitations that the college you are partnering with has.  If you are in a church setting: Make sure you know of any church guidelines. 

    2. Explore or set expectations for mentor meetings so that you and the young adult both know:

      1. How often you will meet and for how long. 

      2. Where you will meet or how you will decide where to meet.

      3. How you will let the other person know if you have to cancel a meeting that is already arranged.

      4. What your commitment to preparation for the meetings will be.

      5. What you want the “end” of your time to be marked by.  How will you know when the meetings should come to an end?  Will you meet a set amount of times? Or for a particular season? Or when a goal is reached?

  • Mentor Limitations: It is most certainly true that you will need to carefully consider your own limitations as a mentor.  We highly recommend that you read chapters 12 and 13 of Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults for some perspective.  Please also consider these types of limitations:

    1. You cannot and should not feel responsible to change or save the young adult you are mentoring.  Both God and the young adult have responsibilities in the growth process that are separate from you.

    2. You should consider many factors when deciding how many young adults you can mentor at one time:

      1. What is your life stage and time capacity? Do you have children who need your attention? A demanding job? A marriage that needs work?  Be mindful of how other demands may impact how many young adults you can invite into the mentoring space in your life.

    3. What is your personality type?  All personality types can mentor and mentor effectively.  But if you are an introvert, it may take more energy to mentor than if you are an extrovert.  

    4. How much should I share? Be as authentic as you want since you are dealing with another adult, BUT keep in mind that it's not helpful for them if you glorify past sin, or if you share so much that you either a. sounds like you are lecturing, or b. redirecting all the focus on you.  If you redirect to much of the focus on you, then it may feel like you are there to be mentored instead of the other way around.

  • Resistance.  If the young adult you are mentoring seems resistant in your mentoring times, consider:

    1. Checking this out with them.  For example, “I sense some resistance in our conversations, can you help me understand what that might be about?”  Ask questions about pacing and relevance of the topics.  Invite feedback on your approach toward them.

    2. Slowing down the pacing of the conversations.  Perhaps you need to listen more and talk less.   

    3. Breaking up the pace of the intentional conversations with relational experiences. So maybe 2 intentional meetings and one social meeting for a while.  Play basketball, invite them for dinner with your family, go to an art museum together, ask to tour their apartment or dorm room or campus, go to a movie together...etc.