Ten Habits of Effective Mentors for Teens
1) They Believe in Influence
Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father (Matthew 5: 16).
They realize that they're always an influence--teacher, guide, behavior model even when they're not trying to be. Their conduct when they think no one is looking, is exactly what their conduct would be when they are standing before the students they are assigned to mentor. They aim for the credibility which empowers them to say to their mentees, "Follow my example."
2) They're Usually Available
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality (Romans 12: 13).
Their disposition is friendly and the teenagers people can read in their smile that they enjoy interacting with them. They honor their schedule to meet with youth. If they receive unexpected calls, they make the effort to speak with them at the first opportunity, being mindful that some of their peers are happy to fill in as counselors, often with inappropriate counsel. They make the teenagers feel that every question on their minds is important.
3) Their Identity Is Authentic
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us (Romans 12: 3).
They don’t pretend that they are always strong; that they never make mistakes; that they have overcome all their struggles. They acknowledge that they're still learning and growing, making their students feel comfortable about asking for help. They keep no skeletons in the closet, which if discovered, will jeopardize their credibility, because they confess that they once lived without morals (or whatever their case is); and that life with morals is happier. They tell the parts of their stories which encourage the teens to steer away from the mistakes they made. Their honesty validates their authenticity when they teach the consequences of right and wrong choices.
4) They Walk Their Talk
Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching (Titus 2: 7).
They have no reason to say, “do as I say, not as I do,” because they teach principles they believe in, principles they learn from a reliable source, principles they accept as wise for themselves to live by. They allow the teens and youth to share their perspectives and explain their habits so they know what they’re up against when they explain their preferences. They are gentle with those who rebel at their teaching and keep on loving them, showing them that they care.
5) They're Confidantes
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4: 2 NKJV)
They value the trust the teenagers place in them. They guard the youngsters' personal information, being careful not to let your tongue slip when they're talking with other people. They do not use the teens' confessions against them. In the event that the teens close information which makes the mentor feel obligated to seek help, the mentors explain their reasons for seeking help by you sharing the information with a professional who can assist them.
6) They Value Respect
Respect everyone (1 Peter 2: 17).
Friendly versus formal is the preferred type of relationship, but familiarity does not negate mutual respect. Mentors and teens respect each other’s personal space. Mentors address any form of disrespect immediately. They model clean, wholesome language and decent deportment. They encourage respect for others, especially for elders whether or not those elders live responsibly.
7) They're Discreet
Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5: 22 KJV).
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There is always a proper reason for the place and the purpose of a one-on-one meeting of youth and adult . Effective mentors harbor no secrets about their meetings or their relationship with the teenagers. No illicit phone calls, texting or emails. There is also a clear purpose for any favors that are additional to the assignment of mentoring. Mentors do not engage in appropriate touching or exchange of seductive remarks. They discourage any of these actions if initiated by the mentee. They exercise wise judgment, even establishing a system of accountability with other mentors, if they consider it necessary.
8) They Listen
To answer before listening—that is folly and shame (Proverbs 18: 13 NIV).
They look at their mentees and lean forward to show interest in what they say. They avoid interrupting. They never brush off as minute a concern that the teens consider a big issue. They listen, then ask questions and listen again. When the youngsters get into trouble, they listen to the whole story, before making a judgment or offering counsel. They show understanding and compassion; and then assist with a plan to handle the consequences and move forward.
9) Their Concern Is Genuine
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12: 9).
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They love the young people sincerely. They make them feel valuable, because they believe they are. They want them to grow and succeed as if they are their own children.
They affirm their strengths, encourage their dreams, and share their vision of what their personal success looks like. They let the teens know that they are committed to helping them realize their goals and they keep their promise.
10) They Have a Prayer Life
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (James 1: 5).
They know that it takes more than human intellect to understand themselves and direct their own lives; and that guiding other human beings requires even more supernatural insight. Divine wisdom helps them to interpret the concerns that the teens and youth find difficult to express; it enables them to counsel effectively; it empowers them to apply the principles they share. That's why they accept prayer, including prayer for their mentees, as a necessity for your daily life.
They are also familiar with the ten Bible verses quoted throughout the article.
Scripture quotationsare from the New Living Translation unless otherwise noted.
© 2012 Dora Isaac Weithers