“To be a mentor you must learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak.”
Author and sociologist, Brene Brown, describes empathy as: “Simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’” Her definition highlights the five components of mentoring.
As mentors, we need to follow the truth found in James 1:19 and be quick to listen and slow to speak. I listen for the purpose of understanding. When mentees have been heard, understood, and accepted right where they’re at, they feel loved. I listen to their story and periodically ask questions to draw out the depths of their hearts (Proverbs 20:5). I’m listening to the Holy Spirit to discern the next steps and to hear prophetic words for their encouragement.
A few years ago, I received a prophecy that described I would be “holding space” for others. At the time I had no idea what that meant. Holding space for someone means being with them on their journey, opening our hearts up to them, and to love and accept them unconditionally. We listen to their stories and allow them to emote, all without trying to fix them. The gift of being themselves frees them to be who God created them to be.
The next component of healthy mentoring is withholding judgment. There’s no room for a critical spirit in mentoring. I love Jesus’s response to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. Jesus encouraged the religious rulers to look at their own sin instead of placing judgment on hers. Jesus, the only one who had the right to judge, did not condemn the woman. But He did call her up higher to go and sin no more. Encourage your mentee to look more like Jesus.
Being not only physically but emotionally present as you reflect on their responses and validate how they feel is another part of mentoring. Change takes place when we listen and feel our mentee’s stories by putting ourselves in their shoes. It’s not enough to just hear the facts of their lives, we must experience them emotionally, and then they know they’re understood.
Lastly, it is immensely healing to know that whatever the mentee is walking through, they are not alone because you’re on the journey with them. In Hebrews 13:5, Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Those we mentor need to have that same security that Jesus and other people care enough to walk alongside of them.