My last post was about why it’s important for mentors to tell failure stories. We know our mentees are going to make mistakes, but as mentors, we want to help them avoid the mistakes we made and at least make different ones.
On a similar note, I want to help you avoid making the same mentoring mistakes I’ve made over the years. So, here are 7 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 I’ve made personally.
- Not loving your guys – You’ll have to choose to love some of the guys in your group. Some will be radically different from you, some will have horrible sins in their past (some still present). 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 proactively. All of them.
- Putting off one-on-ones – As soon as everyone has told their faith story, start scheduling meetings with your guys individually. They’ll want to connect with you because they respect you. (Especially if you’re mentoring through your church . . . meaning you have the church’s endorsement). Lean in and get with each guy within 60 days. (We often get asked about what you should discuss during one-on-ones, here are some thoughts.)
- Not enforcing the covenant standards – It’s so hard for us to be tough on guys regarding being at every meeting, being on time, reading and netting out every book, etc. But push yourself to confront and require compliance. It’s equally unfair to everyone. They signed the covenant. Make it matter. 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 leadership is usually listening more than talking. 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, 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 sin. 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 time frame. 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 guys 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.