As mentors, we know our mentees are going to make mistakes. So our goal isn’t to help them avoid mistakes altogether but to help them avoid the mistakes we made and at least make different ones.
On a similar note, we want to help you avoid making the same mentoring mistakes we’ve made over the years. So, here are seven mistakes to avoid in leading a mentoring group. We’ve seen all of these mistakes happen at one time or another, and most of them we’ve made personally.
- Not loving your mentees – You’ll have to choose to love some of the women in your group. Some will be different from you and have different beliefs. Some may have past experiences holding them captive or current ones they can’t break free from. It’s hard to love someone you judge. Pray for them by name and ask God to open your heart and help you love them where they are. All of them.
- Putting off one-on-ones – As soon as everyone has told their faith story, start scheduling meetings with your mentees individually. They’ll want to connect with you because they respect you. Lean in and meet with each woman within sixty days. (We often get asked about what you should discuss during one-on-ones, here are some thoughts.)
- Not enforcing the covenant standards – It can be hard for us to hold women accountable regarding being at every meeting, being on time, reading and netting out every book, etc. But push yourself to confront them on this when necessary. They signed the covenant. Make it matter. Women want to know that they are on this mentoring journey together. In the end, you’ll find this higher standard to be one of the key things God uses to bring life change through these groups.
- Talking too much – The best leaders and mentors usually listen more than talk. Chime in at the end of a discussion, amplify a point but don’t teach, don’t lecture, and don’t tell long or irrelevant stories.
- Giving advice – When you give advice, you take responsibility for a decision’s outcome without even knowing it. Point them to relevant Scriptures and share your experience, especially when you’ve faced a similar situation. Tell what you did and why it worked in retrospect (or didn’t). Let them figure out what to do on their own.
- Playing it safe when you share your story – Your faith story sets the bar for everyone in the group. Share the Sunday school version, and that’s what you’ll get back when it’s their turn. It’s our way of hiding the shame of our sins. When we attempt to make ourselves look better, we miss the chance to give God the glory He deserves for changing us and making us new. You’re under a covenant of confidentiality . . . share openly.
- Expecting immediate results – God will work through you, your prayers, your co-mentor, the books read, the Scriptures memorized, and the community formed together. But He won’t do it on your timeline. Be patient. Follow the process and trust God for outcomes. Nothing you give Him returns empty.
So, there you have it. If you know others who are leading mentoring groups, send this list to them. And remember, if you feel the time is right for you to start mentoring, the biggest mistake you can make is to not even try.
Scripture: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life. (Matthew 28:19, The Message)
Mentor Tip: Pray for your mentees often throughout the year. It will help open your heart to them. And don’t forget to pray for yourself too . . . that God would move through you and the mentoring season.
This article originally appeared on radicalmentoring.com.
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