June 13, 2024

Am I Acting in the Best Interest of my Mentee/Supervisee?

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How can we be sure that we are acting in the best interest of our mentees or supervisees? When in doubt, I always look to Jesus. Jesus was a servant leader. He led his disciples with humility. A classic example is how he washed the feet of others; he took the place of a servant because he wanted to show how he cared about the well-being of his followers. He wanted to help them feel clean. 

In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus’s feet were washed by Mary Magdalene. The self-righteous people around him pointed out her faults; that she was an immoral, unclean woman. Jesus ignored this. He saw she was caring for him, and he wanted to express grace. She washed his feet, and he forgave her sins—Mary was made cleaner as well. 

When working with mentees and supervisees, are they walking away cleaner than they came in? This does not mean we are covering up blemishes or waving away real issues. Our role is to help others see what they are not seeing. We may have to shine a light on their less attractive qualities and actions, to help them examine and reflect on these parts of themselves, and then guide them towards change and positive vision for their future. 

Common pitfalls that will NOT benefit mentees/supervisees: 

We need to be careful not to develop a god complex. Since we are working from a place of influence and authority, we can’t allow ourselves to believe we are superior to our clients or infallible in our wisdom. We are not their saviors. We are flawed people, just like our mentees/supervisees. Our job is to serve, not flaunt our power or intelligence. 

We should be careful of becoming too comfortable. Nothing lasts forever, and that includes clients. There is a lot of value in a long-term relationship; it allows for trust to build, for a strong sense of safety and a deep knowledge of mentee’s/supervisee’s history and character. However, sometimes we grow attached and hold on to the relationship when it is no longer serving the client. Mentees/supervisees should still be experiencing transformation, and if they are not, consider what could be done differently or move on. 

We ought to be aware of financial pressures. This can come in many forms from both sides of the relationship. You, as the mentor/supervisor need to be aware if you are holding on to a client for the sake of collecting money, when they are not benefitting from the sessions. On the other hand, you may take on a client struggling with finances, for example, a church under financial duress which can’t pay full price or not at all, yet is in need of a supporting relationship. Discern if they are not willing to pay or if they are unable to pay. Do you have the capacity to include them pro bono or for a discounted rate? 

Reflection Questions: 

  • Is my mentee/supervisee leaving sessions cleaner than when they entered? 
  • Am I mentoring/supervising for the correct reasons? 
  • Is my mentee/supervisee still transforming?
  • What am I currently offering the relationship? 
  • Who can help me know when the time is right to end a client relationship? 

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