November 23, 2023

What do we do When our Mentee is Making a Mistake? 

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Every mentor comes to a point with a mentee where they must challenge their mentee’s actions or ways of thinking. Sometimes, we can see them making erroneous choices that cause harm to themselves or cause harm to others. Sometimes, the harm being done is very obvious with a clear course of action to be taken, and sometimes, the damage caused is subtle, possibly hidden, and very complicated. 


Mentors also know that challenging their mentee can be difficult. We don’t want to sound controlling, manipulative or judgemental, but it is also our job to direct our mentees to a better path and push them to understand themselves and their decisions. 

Sometimes, these implications of these choices are internal for the mentee, for example, a mentee who is harbouring anger for a person who wronged them. You, as their mentor, can see how holding on to this rage is hurting them spiritually; holding on to the past is making it difficult for them to look to the future. Your mentee might justify their anger by saying, “They are not repentant. How can I forgive this person?” You can remind them of Stephen, asking for forgiveness for those who stoned him. By refusing to let go of this anger, to forgive and move on, your mentee is damaging themselves. This sort of erroneous behaviour, however, can be challenged internally, and changed with a change of heart and new mindset.

Protecting the Heart and Mind

There are also erroneous implications that cannot be fixed in the heart and mind. For example, your mentee is working with a pastor who is abusing their power. This pastor is manipulative of those around them, and is concealing someone sexually abusing children in the church. The pastor discourages your mentee from speaking out, to protect the image of the church. As a mentor, you can remind your mentee of the people being damaged and their ethical responsibility to the church, and the legal responsiblity for mandatory reporting. In your professional practice as a mentor you also have a responsibility to report this. You explore the possibilities that would come with the decision to take action against this pastor. 

It takes great discernment and wisdom to know how to guide a mentee through these mistakes. You need to show that you respect your mentee’s right to choose their own future, while gently guiding them towards healthy decisions. It is still their life and their choices. However, a mentor must step in if the erroneous implications involve physical harm or abuse both to themselves and to others. In these cases, we are legally and ethically bound to report this behavior to the proper authorities. 

Reflection Questions: 

  • What makes you think that your mentee is making a mistake? 
  • What are the ramifications if your mentee continues on this path? 
  • Can the mistake be rectified? 
  • Is this a mistake that could be resolved internally or externally? 
  • Is anyone being harmed? Do I need to report abuse? 
  • Do I need to terminate the contract?

What’s next for you? 

If you are looking to grow your mentoring skills, check out these resources:

Wondering what is your competency level as a Mentor? Mentor Q assesses your mentoring competencies:

Take this assessment today. 

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