So You’ve Been Asked to be a Mentor…

A few people who read this book have since come to me wondering what they can do when asked to become a mentor. Often people are caught off guard and have a myriad of excuses why they can’t.

Maybe you know this person well, maybe not. Maybe you feel equipped and ready to be a mentor, maybe you don’t. None of this actually affects whether you should say yes or no.

The number one question I get asked by people interested in becoming mentors is, what now? No one knows what to do when they’ve been asked.

Are you supposed to lead the relationship? Do you need to be “on-call” for the mentee 24/7/365?

Here’s a few guiding principles and questions to help you navigate the next steps after being asked to become a mentor.

Don’t Respond Right Away

An appropriate response takes time to develop. Spend time in prayer. Talk about it with your spouse or a trusted friend. Do not try to navigate the decision without input from God and others.

A flippant response here will only lead to a flippant relationship.

I’ve yet to meet a single person who felt fully qualified to be a mentor so if you’re struggling to come to grips with your capability, you’re in good company.

What is the Mentee Looking For?

Knowing not only the expectations you would have in the relationship, but also knowing the mentees is vital to discuss BEFORE beginning your time together.

Don’t be surprised if you are asked to become a mentor but the mentee doesn’t know what they’re looking for. They just know they need help. Now is your opportunity to navigate where they are in order to help discover where it is they need guidance.

Discovering where a mentee needs the most help with will lead to impact in their life.

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  • Think you don’t have time, space, or energy to become a mentor? Think again. (tweet)
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Don’t Have Time, Space, or Energy?

The number one reason why people don’t think they can become a mentor: not enough time, space, or energy.

This might be the case for you. When I talk with people like this, I encourage potential mentors to create a short list of things they do every week that last an hour or two. Most people can include dinner, lunch, exercise, a favorite tv show, or a hobby on this list.

The fact is that everyone has at least one thing they do every week that lasts an hour or so. Not having time, space, or energy cannot be an excuse. It might be a hindrance but it’s not a reason to say no.

You should make the same list and then figure out which one you could include another person in.

If you cannot make this list, then the next list to make is the top three things you need to quit doing. Try getting 7 hours of sleep instead of 8. Stop watching The Bachelor on Monday nights. Everyone has something worth eliminating from their lives.

Important things always get in the way of the most important things. Helping someone else navigate life is one of the most important things you can do.

Learn to Ask Good Questions

When I first met with a guy who was mentoring me he said, “I think my role here is to ask you good questions so that you can figure out what you need to do. I’m not going to simply give answers.”

I think he was spot on. As a mentor, you are not the answer-man come down from the great perch of your incredible knowledge. You get to walk alongside someone.

If you simply provide answers to the mentee they will likely abandon the ideas within a few weeks. But if you ask questions that allow the mentee to come up with their own answer, they will discover more of who God created them to be.

Alright mentors, what would you encourage someone to do after they’ve been asked to become a mentor?

Looking for help in navigating mentoring relationships? Check out my book How to Find and Thrive with a Mentor.

HT to Tony for this post idea.