Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mentoring: What to Look for in a Mentor

Good mentors are like chewing gum to bad breath.

Personally, without good mentors over the last 12 years, who knows where I would be in spiritual leadership, and what characteristics would be most evident in my life. I tell you, I would be 10 steps further back, if you know what I mean.

Some of you are nodding your heads, because you understand the value of good mentors.

So lets have a brief look at mentoring, and what makes a good mentor.

Edward Sellner in his book called, 'Mentoring' lists characteristics on what to look for in a mentor:
  • Maturity - wisdom that comes only from age.
  • Compassion - the ability to listen to the person being mentored and to not judge. The mentor should be able to offer advice, of course, but in a way that shows compassion.
  • Genuine respect - People being mentored can quickly glean whether there is a deep level of respect present, and whether the mentor is really listening or not.
  • Trust - The ability to keep things confidential. A mentor needs to be trusted to keep what's said in the room, IN the room.
  • Self-disclosure - The willingness for the mentor to share their own stories in order to encourage the person being mentored. An impact is made when the stories are their own and are stories that encapsulate things like pushing through the pain, not giving up, faithfulness, trusting God even when the chips were down, etc.
  • A mentor who is continually learning (or as Sellner says, a 'Scholar') - If someone being mentored is being asked to learn and grow, then there is respect and authenticity when the mentor is on that same kind of journey of growth!
  • A discerning spirit - There may be moments when the mentor should just sit there and listen. There are other times, they should drive a point home with passion. It is all in the discernment. It is all relative to the context, of what is being said, the emotional baggage that surrounds the topic and this is where the mentor needs discernment. (Adapted from Leighton Ford in Leaders on Leadership). 
Mentoring is a privilege. I thank God for good mentors over the years. I thank God for the mentoring that is to come, that will encourage and further equip me for serving God in the future.

Hats off to all the mentors out there! Well done!


  1. Thanks for this superb post. And just at the right time! God Bless you Pete!

  2. Thanks Tim! Awesome to hear. Great to see God at work right now...


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