Emotionally Engaged Mentoring

How close are you to those you’re developing? 

It’s easy to look at those under our leadership development efforts as a project rather than a person.  Sometimes leaders feel like training or mentoring others is a burdensome responsibility rather than a privileged relationship. When this is the case the leader fails to fully engage himself in the development process. Development efforts are hurried, made a low priority or given half-hearted effort. But leadership development has its fullest impact when it’s highly relational. Don’t misunderstand, you can develop a leader without being relational, but it won’t have maximum impact.

Paul starts his second letter to Timothy by saying , “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2).  The words “beloved son” reveals the depth of their relationship. Paul wasn’t his father but the dynamics of their relationship made it feel that way. I’ll admit that getting close to those you train is dangerous. You can be easily hurt, let down or taken for granted. I had a professor in seminary who was very aloof. When I asked someone why, they told me that years earlier he had gotten close to a student he was mentoring and the student somehow betrayed him. So consciously or unconsciously he decided to keep a distance between himself and those he trained.

If you are training masses of people obviously you won’t be close to all of them, but each of us should have one or two people that we’re giving ourselves fully too. When you are engaged in leadership development on an emotional level it does several things…

  • It gives your trainee a greater level of confidence. They know and sense that you believe in them. You’re not just saying words, but you’re conveying with your eyes and spirit that you believe they have what it takes to lead. Your confidence in them give them confidence in God’s work in their life.
  • It gives you as the trainer greater credibility. Because you take the time to listen, relate and be vulnerable yourself, the level of trust grows exponentially.  As trust and credibility increase so does your influence in their life.
  • It heightens their level of commitment.When Paul sent Timothy to the church in Philippi, he said, “I have sent unto you my beloved son Timothy because I don’t have anyone else who is like-minded as I am, who really has you at his heart” (Philippians 2:19-20).  Because Paul loved the people at Philippi deeply so did Timothy.

What are other benefits of emotionally engaged mentoring?