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Questions that guide a mentee’s self-discovery

Mentor / Skills
Our role as spiritual mentors is to facilitate our mentees’ “self-discovery” and help gently guide them to discover God’s truth and will for their lives. We can ask open-ended questions to guide a mentee and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit. He will counsel, convict and guide our mentees.
 (See Chinese versions: 简体中文如何提问才有效繁體中文 > 如何提問才有效)


Galatians 5:16-18 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

As objective observers, the struggles and sin in other people’s lives may become very obvious to us. But even though it may be tempting to provide a ‘diagnosis’ and ‘prescription’ like a doctor may, we must be extremely careful not to. We may inadvertently pre-empt the lessons that God has planned for our mentees, or even worse, lead them down the wrong road.

Open-ended questions starting with “What” and “How” are very useful for the “self-discovery” process, especially when there is evasion and denial, or confusion around a problem. They also help convey a message of care and concern, and not come off as judgmental or provocative.

For example, asking “What did you hope to accomplish by doing that?” is much better than asking “Why did you do that?” By helping to draw out any misguided thinking or issue of the heart, they will hopefully bring about clarity, insight, conviction, commitment and action!

Here are some sample questions we can use:

Some “What” questions
  • What has taken place since we last met together?
  • What are you hoping to achieve by doing this?
  • What are your options? What have you tried so far?
  • What are some other possibilities?
  • What has influenced your thinking about this?
  • What does God’s word say about this?
  • What could be holding you back? What stands in the way?
  • What would this plan of action eventually lead to?
  • What did you find enjoyable about that? 
  • What resources would you need? 
  • What will you do if this fails?
  • What would your reaction be if this were happening to your own (future/current) child? 
  • What would it be like to account for this one day, standing before the throne of God?
  • What testimony would this set for non-Christians trying to understand who God is?

Some “How” questions
  • How is this working out for you?
  • How have you prayed about this?
  • How does it appear to you?
  • How would you summarise this?
  • How do you think you would feel if you were in the other person’s shoes? 
  • How much time have you given yourself to confirm what God wants for you in this? 
  • How would Jesus respond in the same circumstances?
  • How many people will this affect? What about your future children or spouse?

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