A Commonly Neglected Ingredient in Mentoring

As I was reading through 2 Timothy 1 it struck me that Paul told Timothy, ” I constantly remember you in my prayers.”  I don’t think he was simply praying, “God bless Timothy”.  Paul understood that Timothy was young and facing some pretty intense ministry pressure in Ephesus.  So undoubtedly he was praying for God to deepen Timothy’s courage, increase his leadership insights, expand his influence, and whatever else Timothy needed to exercise effective spiritual leadership.

When mentoring a young leader I’m looking for God to use the ink of my experiences to write leadership wisdom on their heart.  But it’s not enough to simply instruct, be a role model and share our experience with young leaders.  We must pray for them and seek to understand the specifics of what God is doing in their lives.  Mentoring is not a two way process…it is a three way process that includes God. It‘s GOD using YOU to shape THEM. Young leaders are susceptible to pride, the lure of power, foolish mistakes and giving up when discouraged. So it’s through prayer that God can give you a deeper understanding into their developmental needs.  If I look at mentoring simply as a two way relationship, then I may miss the dynamics of how God wants to use me in their life.

As you meet with the young leaders you are mentoring don’t neglect asking them, “What’s God doing in your life and how can I pray for you?”

Rule #1 for Choosing a Mentee

I’ve had mentoring relationships with many people in my 27 years of ministry and I’ve learned that not every mentoring relationship works.    Because mentoring is an investment over a long period of time it’s essential that you’re wise in who you select. 

I’ve discovered for me that Rule #1 for choosing a mentee is: find someone who’s potential and personality energizes you.   The right chemistry between two people is critical for making mentoring work. Have you ever met with someone that drained you? You’re not sure why, but there is something about the combination of their personality with your personality that just doesn’t connect. There’s no chemistry. BEFORE meeting with them you hope they cancel, WHILE  meeting with them you struggle to keep up a natural conversation, AFTER meeting with them you’re drained rather than energized. 

We see a strong chemistry in 2 Timothy 1:4 between Paul and Timothy.  While sitting in a Roman prison cell Paul writes Timothy saying, “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”  In this one verse we see the emotional connection and chemistry between these two men.  There was a desire to spend time with each other, an admiration of each others gifting and a deep emotional connection that made them give their best to one another.  That’s when mentoring works at it’s best.

What young leader has God brought into your life who’s potential and personality energizes you?  What investment does God want you to make into their life and leadership?

Questions I’m Asking Myself this Week

One of my favorite books I’ve read this year is Ram Charans, Leaders at all Levels.  Charan promotes a concept he calls the Apprenticeshp Model.  He goes as far to say that developing leaders should be on every leaders job description.  He states, “A leader has not done his job if he delivers only numbers.  He needs to deliever future leaders as well.  Every boss is a mentor and coach who invests energy and care in helping develop the high-potential leaders who report to him.  Giving feedback and coaching becomes part of the boss’s routine work, like managing the budget or getting produce out the door.  Every  interaction between the boss and the leader becomes an occaion to aid the leader’s deliberate practice and growth.” Leaders at all Levels p 79. 

Here are a few questions I’m asking myself as I evaluate my leadership this week…

  • Am I capturing teachable moments with individuals on my team?
  • Am I fully aware of their challenges, frustrations, and failures?
  • Am I doing enough “on the spot” coaching?
  • Am I helping them learn from their failures and successes?
  • Am I helping them move toward greater engagement in their strengths?
  • Am I helping them find ways to disengage from their weakness?

What changes do you need to make next week in the way you lead people in order to be a teaching leader?

Make a Deposit for a Future Leader

One of the greatest gifts you can give an up and coming leader is the gift of credibility.  Young leaders haven’t had time to earn a reputation, build a high degree of trust among followers or develop their levels of competency.  But as a leader that’s a few years ahead of them you have earned trust, respect and credibility among your followers.  So why not deposit a few of your credibility bucks into their leadership bank account?

Jesus did this with disciples in Luke 6:13, “He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.”

Did you notice that Jesus selected his twelve right in front of all his other disciples?  By doing so He was elevating these twelve, validating them and putting some of his credibility in their leadership account.  This would automatically give his newly appointed apostles some credibility even though they had not totally earned it yet.  Don’t minimize the power your words and actions have when you validate young leaders publically. 

Who are the sharp young leaders trying to pave their way in your organization?  What can you do this week to give them some of your credibility?

Teambuilding Mentoring Session

In yesterdays post I described a three step mentoring process you can use with your mentee or your team.  Today I want to give you an actual mentoring session you can use.  Share this post with your mentee and simply follow the process.

Click on the Play button below to watch introduction video:


SITUATION:  You’re leading a team that has been together for nearly a year.  As the leader you’re sensing there isn’t quite the team spirit or performance you anticipated.  People on the team like each other and get along fine but seem to work independently rather than working as a team.  One member says to you, “We need to do some teambuilding to pull us together?”

  1. What would you do in this situation to build these individuals into a high performing team?
  2. Think back to a high performing team you have been a part of in the past, what were the characteristics that really brought them together?  If you’ve never been apart of a high performing team what kept that team from functioning well?
  3. Click on this link to read The Team Building Trap article by Jim Galvin.  This same link includes a brief summary of Jon Katzenback’s 5 Levels of Team Performance.  Where would you place your team on the 5 Levels of Team Performance? Working Group, Pseudo team, Potential Team, Real team, High performance team.   Why?
  4. What are 2-3 things you would do to help your team become a high performing team ?


Plan a meeting agenda that will help galvanize your team into a high performance team. Make sure you use the 3 principles from the article as your guide.  Write out the agenda and go over it with your mentor before leading the meeting.

  • Principle #1 – Make sure you have a real team  – Write out the purpose of your team.
  • Principle #2 – Make sure you have a lofty goal  – Write out the teams lofty goal
  • Principle #3 – Focus on the performance challenge – Lead a session with your team mapping out an action plan toward the lofty goal.  Make sure you help identify everyone’s strengths and their role in this process.

Write out additional steps you need to take as the team leader using the principles from the Team Building Trap article.  Next lead the meeting.  Invite your mentor to sit in and watch if possible.


Meet with your mentor and discuss the following questions:

  1. How did your team meeting go?  What went well?  What would you do differently?
  2. How did the team members respond?
  3. How well did you apply each of the three principles?
    Principle #1 – Make sure you have a real team
    Principle #2 – Make sure you have a lofty goal
    Principle #3 – Focus on the performance challenge.
  4. What next steps do you need to take in building a high performance team?