Helping your mentees build
on their strengths can be more powerful and helpful than
only concentrating on their weak areas. In other words,
as you help your mentees choose goals, make sure at least
one goal focuses on
improving or leveraging abilities and attributes they already
How can you and your mentees find those strengths? Here are some
places to look.
- What the mentees believe and feel about themselves
Ask your mentees to list several things they know and can
do well. Help them find what has worked in their
lives rather than what’s gone wrong. Here are
some sentences to use:
Tell me about a time when you felt really alive,
creative, excited, content, and successful. Describe how you
felt. What factors contributed to this positive experience?
What do others name as your strengths? Tell me
what you most value about yourself. How has God gifted you?
Be certain that you’ve built trust with your mentees
and promise confidentiality before you ask these powerful
questions. As they answer with beliefs and feelings, take
notes, and together highlight the strengths that emerge.
- Assessment results
Look with your mentees at any measurements of their abilities,
styles, or character. Perhaps your mentees completed an instrument
such as the Myers-Briggs or DISC or a spiritual gifts inventory
or character assessment. Find out the subjects in which your
mentees earned good grades in school.
- Past performance reviews
Have your mentees had job performance evaluations? Ask them
to bring in a copy of the last one (and more if available).
What strengths and progress are mentioned?
- What the mentees’ managers or ministry leaders
Find out what their bosses or ministry leaders consider to
be the mentees’ strengths. Encourage your mentees to
ask these key people directly. You might even talk with their
supervisors yourself, but only with your mentees’ permission
and never without it.
- Your observations
You may be the best source of data about your mentees’
strengths. Treat your partnerships like “mini-laboratories.”
Chances are that your mentees will act similarly and affect
others the same way they appear to you. Carefully observe
your mentees’ comments, body language, and behaviors
with you. What strengths do you see and hear? Are they quick
thinking? sensitive? responsive? well-spoken? bright? patient?
good writers? funny? careful listeners? Help your mentees
recognize the behaviors you observed that helped
you identify these strengths.
Don’t rush the process of identifying your mentees’
strengths. And don’t limit the search to the beginning
of your relationships. Keep adding to the list, and help them
set goals and find venues to try out these strengths in new and
more exciting ways.
Years ago, a mentee wrote and told several short stories
about her dog to her nieces and children of her friends. She
liked to write, and she knew she was good at it because the
children begged her for more. She ended up filing away a small
pile of mini-tales and scraps of almost-finished scenes. About
a year ago, she found a mentor who recognized her talent and
who helped her turn her short stories into a children’s
book, workbook, and dog puppet presentation for schools and
What are your mentees’ strengths, hidden and obvious? They
definitely exist, and one of your most important tasks is to help
your mentees find and use them.
For more ideas on Christ-centered mentoring, look at What