Leadership & Formation #19: Mentoring Guidelines

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Posted by greg

figure_walking_into_sunset_400_clr_14043.pngBefore you can find personal mentors, you must first determine your mentoring needs and their priority.  Two arenas must be considered when determining your personal mentoring needs.  

One has to do with your beingness – the ‘energy’ that will supply the fuel you will need to fulfill your developmental goals.  In other words, what activities will provide the resources needed to reach your objectives?  What resources will provide power and strength to attain your goals?  As said in an earlier post; competencies are the tools of effective leadership but character is the power of effective leadership.

The second area has to do with your doingness – your growth goals for your work and calling; your developmental goals that will provide the tools you need to succeed.  In other words, what competencies and skills are needed for you to succeed?  What barriers to your advancement must be addressed so that you can realize your dreams?

In summary, life development goals (beingness) and professional development goals (doingness) must be considered and prioritized before you can answer the following questions.  Answers to the questions that follow will determine the effectiveness and parameters in any mentoring relationship.

  • What do I look for in a mentor?
  • What must I be willing to contribute to the mentoring relationship?
  • How do I find a mentor?

Let’s begin…

What do I look for in a mentor?

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Look for mentors who will be…

  • Honest with you.
  • A model for you.
  • Deeply committed to you.
  • Open and transparent with you.
  • A teacher.
  • One who believes in your potential.
  • One who can help you plan and turn your dream into reality.
  • Successful in your eyes.
  • Open to learning from you as well as teaching you.
  • Willing to stay primarily on your agenda, not their own.
  • One who will hold you accountable.
  • One who will be available to you.

What must I be willing to contribute to the mentoring relationship?

Am I …

  • Easy to believe in?
  • Easy to like and spend time with naturally?
  • Easy to keep helping?
  • Responsive and teachable?
  • One who will respect my mentor?
  • Self-motivated?
  • Willing to be honest?
  • Willing to be vulnerable?
  • Willing to be held accountable?
  • Willing to be committed to being mentored?

How do I find a mentor?

  1. List your mentoring needs
  2. Prioritize your mentoring needs for the next 12 months.
  3. Identify the type of mentor you need.
  4. Pray and ask for God’s leading for a mentor.
  5. Brainstorm possible candidates within your sphere of relationships.
  6. Brainstorm possible candidates outside your sphere of relationships.
  7. Seek advice and input from leaders you respect.
  8. Contact potential mentors and schedule an initial meeting.
  9. Lay out your mentoring needs and why you chose them as a potential mentor.
  10. Identify your preferable outcomes in a mentoring relationship.
  11. Outline what you will contribute to the mentoring relationship.
  12. Suggest a 3-month trial with the possibility of termination or continuance.

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #18: Mentoring Types

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Posted by greg

figure_line_standout_400_clr_14429.pngWhat type of mentor do I need?

One size does not fit all.  The mentor you need depends on the area of your life that needs a mentor.  Once you have determined your mentoring needs you are ready to seek out the type of mentor you need.  Sometimes you need a Sage-on-the Stage and at other times you need a Guide-by-the-Side.

God will provide a mentor in a specific area of need for you if you trust Him for one and you are willing to submit and accept responsibility.

Determining the type of mentor you need depends entirely of your need.  Perhaps the following questions will clarify the type of mentor you may need…


Intentional/Intensive Mentors provide formal mentoring often using prescribed material directed to establishing foundations of one sort or another.

Do you need to establish the basics of following Christ and the foundations of the faith?  If so, you need a DISCIPLER.

A Discipler is a more experienced follower of Christ who shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ as Lord.

Do you need someone to hold you accountable, help you with decisions, spiritual growth, or inner-life motivations?  If so, you need a SPIRITUAL GUIDE.

A Spiritual Guide is a godly, mature follower of Christ who shares knowledge, skill, and basic philosophy on what it means to increasingly realize Christlikeness in all areas of life.

Do you need someone to motivate and encourage you, to help you with spiritual disciplines that will give you the ability to operate at your designed capacity or to meet a task or challenge?  If so, you need a COACH.

The Coach’s central thrust is to provide motivation and impart skills and application to meet a task or challenge…a mentor who knows how to do something well and imparts those skills to a mentoree to learn them.


Occasional mentors provide non-formal mentoring based on a specific need for a period of time necessary to master that need.  Materials used will be specific for that need.

Do you need someone who can impartial provide perspective and timely advice for relationships and life’s circumstances.  If so, you need a COUNSELOR.

The central thrust of a Counselor is the impartation of wise counsel and wisdom on the mentoree’s view of self, others, circumstances and events, and vocation.

Do you need someone to impart knowledge and understanding on a given topic or range of issues?  If so, you need a TEACHER.

The central thrust of a Teacher-mentor is to impart knowledge and understanding of a particular subject.

Do you need someone to provide career guidance, organizational protection, access to key networks, resource support, or advocacy within an organization?  If so, you need a SPONSOR.

A Sponsor is a mentor who has credibility and positional or spiritual authority within and organization or network who will enable development of the mentoree and the mentoree’s influence within and organization or community.


Passive mentors provide informal mentoring through something written, something spoken, or something produced such as books, tapes, podcasts, etc.  The purpose of this mentoring is to inspire, encourage, and provide a catalyst for change.  More than likely, these mentors are not personally involved with the mentoree; their influence is experienced indirectly through recorded tapes (audio or visual), books they have written, or presentations they have made to larger audiences which you attend.  Some of these mentors may longer be living but their works live on by what they left.

Do you need someone who provides an example and model for godly living, expertise in a competency or skill, or principles and values that serves to empower others?  If so, you need a CONTEMPORARY or HISTORICAL MODEL worth emulating.

A Contemporary (living) or Historical (deceased) Model Is a person whose life or vocation is used as an example to indirectly impart skills, principles, values, and practices that empower another person.

Are you in need of the quiet voice of God in your life that offers a timely word for you at critical junctures in your life?  If so, be open to a DIVINE CONTACT form the Lord.

God sends us a Divine Contact at critical junctures in our life when immediate insight or a word from the Lord is needed or when a seed needs to be planted in our heart and mind that will serve some future purpose or design of God.

Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In summary, it is important to determine the category of mentor you need; intentional/intensive, occasional, or passive.  More specifically, determine the type of mentor that will be effective in helping you address you specific need.  Passive mentors will be acquired over time and may augment a face-to-face mentor you might engage. 

To be continued…


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Leadership & Formation #17: Mentoring Needs

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Posted by greg

What’s on your bucket list?  What do you want to accomplish before you die? Here is my List…

  • Learn to use a kayak really well.
  • Fly fish in Montana.
  • Buy a cabin in northern Minnesota.
  • Tour Scotland’s highlands.
  • Retire in Ireland.
  • Take a course at Oxford University in England.
  • Take a month-long walking tour across northern England.
  • See my grandsons grow up to be men after God’s heart.
  • Live a legacy worth leaving in the lives of others.
  • Crash through the Gates of Heaven, utterly exhausted having left everything on the field of engagement.

figure_vaulting_over_bar_400_clr_14025.pngWhat does it mean to FINISH WELL?  My mentor, J. Robert Clinton describes the characteristics of finishing well…

Finishing Well:  refers to reaching the end of one's life, having been faithful to the calling God has placed upon that about Christ followers being more passionate about Christ and His mission as they fulfill their life purpose than they were at the beginning.  It also entails a life that experiences the depth of God's grace and is living out one's destiny and the making of one's unique and ultimate contribution in expanding God's Kingdom.  (J. Robert Clinton - Leadership Emergence Theory)

To take a journey, especially over unfamiliar terrain, we need a GUIDE; someone who is familiar with the landscape who can help us arrive at our desired objective.  Taking a journey alone over treacherous or difficult territory can be frustrating, anxiety producing, hazardous, and even dangerous if we don’t know what we’re doing.  More specifically, we need mentors to guide us.

Some of us long to be mentored because we feel the hole in our soul.  We know instinctively that if we keep doing the same thing in our lives the result will be the same thing. 

Some of us know exactly what our mentoring needs are.  Others of us haven’t got a clue – we just know we need help.  Still others of us have multiple mentoring needs but haven’t determined the highest priority. 

One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to counsel us, to provide direction, to teach us.  If you are unclear about the mentoring area seek His counsel through prayer.  You might pray something like this…

Mentally project yourself to a preferable future.  What does it look like?  Does it serve God’s redemptive purposes?  Is it God-honoring?  Does it align with God’s wiring of you?  Come back to the present and look for mentors that will help you reach your preferable future.

These QUESTIONS will help you determine your mentoring needs.

  • What are you doing now you need to KEEP doing (but do better)?
  • What are you doing now you need to CHANGE doing?
  • What are you doing now you need to STOP doing?
  • What are you not doing now you need to START doing?

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you become a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better friend, or a better employee. 

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you learn the basics of the faith and what it means to be a Christian.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you with a sin pattern or a stronghold of the Enemy that continually defeats you.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you master a particular competency or life skill.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you realize your God-given potential.

Perhaps you need a mentor to open up new networks of relationships.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you grow spiritually.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you with life management.

What are your mentoring needs?

Who within your sphere of relationships could help you with those needs?

Do you need an INTENSIVE mentor who will help you establish key foundational building blocks?

Do you need an OCCASIONAL mentor who will help you deal with a particular need?

Who are your PASSIVE mentors who inspire and encourage you?

To be continued…


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Leadership & Formation #16: Mentoring Dynamics

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Posted by greg

stick_figure_hardhat_tighten_bolt_400_clr_8563.pngAs mentioned in the previous post leaders who have finished well have had from 10 to 15 mentors in their life.  Of those that do other individuals helped them in timely situations along the way and significantly enhanced their development.

It may be helpful to discuss a few mentoring concepts and principles first.

Mentoring Definition

Mentoring is a relational process in which a mentor, who knows or has experienced something, transfers that something (resources for wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status, etc.) to a mentoree, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment.

Succinct Definition:  Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.

The term ‘mentor’ has an interesting origin.  In the Illiad, Odysseus, better known as Ulysses by the Romans much later, contracts his ‘wise and trusted counselor’ as a tutor for his son, Telemachus before leaving on a long journey lasting 20 years.  This journey was precipitated by the kidnapping of Helen by Paris, the son of the King of Troy.  The name of his tutor was Mentor.  Mentor's name – with a lower-case "m" – has passed into our language as a shorthand term for wise and trusted counselor and teacher.

Mentoring Contributions  

To finish well we will need from time to time a guide-by-the-side or a sage-on-the-stage; someone to help us navigate our journey, help us avoid dangerous pitfalls, hold us accountable, or provide a resource such as…

  • Wisdom and discernment…
  • Life experience…
  • Timely advice…
  • Competencies and skills…
  • Life principles…
  • Important values and lessons…
  • Direction and guidance…
  • Support and encouragement…
  • Sponsorship and networking…
  • A kick in the seat of the pants!

Mentoring Categories

There are basically three categories of mentors:  Intensive Mentors; Occasional Mentors, and Passive Mentors.

Intensive Mentoring is generally a formal process often using a prescribed curriculum or resource to build essential foundations into the life of the mentoree.  The process is more regimented and has a clear objective that will ultimately provide a basic platform for operation.

Occasional mentoring is a non-formal process that tailors the mentoring relationship to address a specific need or needs.  Once the need is addressed the mentoring ceases.  The need could be mastery of a particular competency, a problem to resolve, a weakness to eliminate, a skill to acquire, a network to access, or a sponsorship to seek.

Passive mentoring is an informal process that is initiated by the mentoree looking for inspiration, knowledge or wisdom from contemporary or historical models.  The resources provided by these ‘models’ may consist of books to read, workshops to attend, seminars to participate in, websites to search, podcasts to watch, webinars to attend, or audio tapes to listen to.  The mentoree will have little to no face-to-face contact with a person.  The passive mentor may be in fact deceased.  But these mentors, contemporary or historical, address a fundamental concern or growth requirement.

Why consider being mentored or mentoring others? 

  • People are longing for their story to be heard and their life to be shaped.
  • It is one of the most effective ways to change lives.
  • It provides an avenue for passing on what we have learned.
  • It is one of the most effective ways to shape a person’s character.
  • It can be a significant means to facilitate leadership development.
  • It is essential to finishing well as a leader.

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #15: Mentoring Insights

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Posted by greg

reading_to_child_400_clr_9043.pngMy mentor, J. Robert Clinton, author of Leadership Emergence Theory, conducted extensive research on how a leader is developed.  Using grounded theory methodology he and his team studied the lives of biblical, historical, and contemporary leaders.  3800 case studies have been amassed.  One of the key findings is that very few leaders finish well.   Those who have finished well have had 10 to 15 significant mentors in their lives.

Not too long ago I was interviewed on the subject of mentoring.  The interviewer knew I was committed to mentoring others.  He himself had benefitted from mentoring.  Three questions were asked of me.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a mentor?

  • Read Connecting by Stanley and Clinton. This resource provides excellent guidance in finding a mentor.
  • Identify the issue, area, or concern you hope a mentor will be able to address.
  • Determine what type of mentor you need (discipler, spiritual guide, coach, counselor, teacher, sponsor, or passive mentor - someone who can provide needed resources from a distance).
  • Determine what will comprise your view of a successful outcome. What objectives do you hope to reach?
  • Prepare a single page document outlining your mentoring need, the type of mentor you seek, what you will provide in the relationship (i.e., your commitment, what you will provide in the relationship, your teachability and willingness to take direction,
  • Look for someone who has demonstrated expertise in your area of need.
  • Meet with the potential mentor and pursue establishing a 3-month mentoring relations, at the end of which both of you can decide to continue or terminate the relationship.
  • Seek advice from trusted advisers regarding their mentor recommendations.
  • Be willing to engage the journey and leave the destination to God.

What red flags do you see that would lead you to say no to investing in someone?

  • Lack of clarity regarding their need for mentoring.
  • Unwillingness to be held accountable.
  • Too many verbal conditions or reservations.
  • Lack of follow through with an initial assignment meant to test their commitment.
  • Argumentative spirit, arrogance, defensiveness, or otherwise poor attitude.
  • Resistance to advice or counsel.
  • Victim mentality that sees no hope of victory.
  • Someone who wants association without responsibility.

Your recent book Setting Your Course is about helping people live focused lives. Why this book? Where are leaders missing it?

Many leaders live unfocused lives with little intentionality, reacting to circumstances, bouncing from one crisis to another, and living a life of mediocrity. Situational lifestyles are adopted to make one’s way forward – patterns of avoidance, reaction, transference, indecision, and obsession – all motion with little forward progress. Coming to clarity regarding your divinely ordained wiring will help a leader move from scattered engagement to laser beam focus. A calibrated compass tuned to the heart of God (beliefs, values, attitudes, and motives) will help a leader understand and navigate the unique terrain of their journey (biblical purpose - beingness, life purpose - doingness, committed passion - focus of engagement, role boundaries - supporting context, unique methodologies - your tool kit, and ultimate contribution - the aroma you will leave when God calls you home. Finding guides by the side will help a leader reach his or her destiny. The book provides a framework for developing a Focused Life Plan consisting of a compass – personal alignment plan, map – personal life mandate, and guide – personal mentoring strategy. The compass provides direction, the map provides the journey we are to take, and the guide provides assistance to reach our God-ordained destiny.

To be continued…

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