Plan Well. Follow Better.
I met with the young woman I am going to be mentoring for the first time tonight. On my drive from work to meet her at one of three local Starbucks, I prayed that the Lord would direct our conversation and help me know the right things to say–or not say–and the appropriate times to say them.
On the outside, this girl and I have nothing in common. Yet as we sat and talked, I realized that we shared the same basic desires common to so many women. We both wanted our lives to count for something. We wanted to feel valued. We desired the approval of others and above all, we both wanted to be loved.
In the past, I have been the one being mentored, so being in the position of the mentor tonight was a new experience for me. As I said before, being a mentor often requires doing more listening than talking. However, you do need to have basic conversational skills to keep the time you spend with the person you’re mentoring from growing silent and awkward.
Not that anyone’s evaluating it, but all in all, I would consider my first mentoring meeting a success. Here are a few tips for ensuring that your first get together with someone you are mentoring is a success too:
- Meet at a neutral location- If you aren’t at someone’s house, both parties are free to leave whenever they please. This makes ending your time together much less awkward.
- Pray- I have been reading the book of Acts and one message is very clear throughout the text. The people in the early church did not undertake a ministry if it was not first bathed in prayer.
- Brainstorm questions- Before your meeting, come up with at least four or five questions that you can ask to spark potential discussion. Steer clear of potentially sensitive subjects. The first meeting should be about building trust and getting to know one another and acting like you’re probing for someone to reveal deep, dark secrets hardly builds trust. Additionally, make sure you phrase the questions you ask so that they require more than a yes or no answers.
- Share something meaningful- Before you meet with the person you’ll be mentoring decide what parts of your life you’re willing to share and what parts you aren’t, then try to weave at least one thing you think the other person should know about you into the conversation. For instance, I thought it was important for the girl I’m meeting with to know that I once struggled with an eating disorder, (This shows that I somewhat understand addictive behavior.) so I wove that information into our conversation.
- Listen more than you talk. Nuf’ said.
- Plan well. Follow better. – As you meet with the person your mentoring, silently lift up your words in prayer to the Lord. Listen to your instincts (chances are it’s God talking to you) and ask questions, remain silent or talk when you feel the Lord prompting you–even if that means deviating from the direction you thought the conversation would take. In essence, plan well for your first mentoring encounter, but make sure you follow the Lord’s leading much more closely.