Mentoring with Questions

  • Don Payne
  • Nov 7, 2000

In our culture answers seem to have more value than questions. Answers solve problems. Answers make money. Answers build reputations. However ...

Good answers depend on good questions. 

The model of Jesus cuts across the grain of our tendencies. We sometimes rush too quickly to any answers that seem to work. Jesus seemed comfortable leaving people with questions. In fact, questions were one of His favorite teaching tools.

"Where are the other nine?"
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor?"
"Who do you say I am?"

Good questions are a key factor in the fruitfulness of a mentoring relationship. They can ...

  • highlight important issues
  • promote healthy self-examination
  • stimulate creativity
  • lead to new insights
  • encourage further learning
  • foster humility

What are some of the life-changing questions that you have been asked throughout your life? Does your mentoree need to be asked some of the same questions from time to time?

Asking fruitful questions is not easy, of course. It requires careful attention; listening to what's "between the lines" in a person's life, looking for patterns and directions, investigating nuances. Asking questions is perhaps one of the best ways to improve your listening skills and communicate that you take a person seriously. So, the discipline of asking good questions can be a growth catalyst for yourself as well as your mentoree. 

That's a WIN - WIN!

As a method of mentoring, asking questions is risky. A mentoree might arrive at answers different from what we predict or want. A mentoree might even come up with better answers than we have! 

Do you tend to give answers rather than ask questions? Hold off instead and guide your mentoree through a situation with questions. Do you already tend to ask questions? Hold out for a better one. Look for an even better angle. Then watch out for what God may do in your lives!