6 Classic Mentoring Questions for Pastors

These are six clusters of questions I often use in mentoring once a relationship of trust has formed.  Some are a little confrontational and should be used with care.  Note: I do not recommend mentoring like this within a relationship of structural authority.  Mentoring of this nature should be within a non-structured relationship.  I.e. the mentor is outside the organisation / church and not in a position of authority over the mentoree.  I do not use all of these questions in every session, that would be a bit heavy, however I keep them ‘up my sleeve’ for the right times.

  1. What have been the most significant events in your spiritual life in the last month?  In what areas are you currently seeking spiritual guidance?  What do you find yourself praying earnestly about?(Note: The movements of a leader’s spiritual life are critically important.  The ability to identify, share and reflect on these is vital in mentoring.)

  2. When was your last full day off and how did you spend it?  When is your next day off?  What plans do you have for the time?(Note: Working either too much without time off or alternatively being too slack is common for people in ministry who often have few external structures of accountability.  No days off correlates highly with burnout!)

  3. When was the last time you finished something well?  How did this come about?  What are the two most significant unfinished projects you have before you now?  What steps are you taking to work on these?  What is stopping you from completing them. (Note: Unfinished projects are a common cause of anxiety and stress.  Sometimes leaders need the chance to get an alternative view on them and find an alternative strategy for completion.)

  4. What expectations of yourself are you currently struggling to meet?  How would your wife / husband reflect on these?  Are they fair and reasonable? (Note: Expectations are also a common source of stress.  The ability to managing these realistically often comes through the chance to talk about them openly and honestly.)

  5. Share with me a pastoral or community relationship in which you feel uncomfortable, attracted sexually, manipulated, conflicted or sense ‘something is going on’ that is different to ‘normal’?(Note: While a challenging question, this is a critical area for pastors to be able to talk openly about.  Pastors are involved in significant interpersonal relationships which are emotionally and dynamically complex.  Attraction, manipulation and conflict can occur on either side of pastoral relationships for many reasons.  It is vital that pastors have someone with whom to talk about their feelings of ‘discomfort’.)

  6. If anything has the potential to take you out of ministry at this point what would this be?  What steps are you taking to understand and respond to this potential right now?  (Note: This is a question that raises all kinds of issues for discussion and catches some things the other questions do not.  It reveals the insight and understanding of the pastor)