Mentoring Closure Webinar

The mentoring relationship comes to an end in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is anticipated. Sometimes it comes as a surprise. Sometimes it’s favorable and sometimes it’s not. Whatever the reason for closure, we can be sure God will continue to love our mentees and seek out their best interest in the future. In this webinar, we examine reasons why a mentoring relationship might need to transition as well as healthy ways to help navigate this transition.


Okay. I’m rolling our video here. Welcome to Mentoring Closure, a webinar that we would like to talk about this issue of how mentoring comes to a close. As Brother Arlan and I address this topic. It frequently comes up in our training. People are asking, okay how does this stop? Is there an exit to mentoring? What does that look like? And I think some of it comes perhaps, as a little bit of a fear? What if I don’t succeed at this mentoring thing? How does this closure happen. And so what we want to do today is to really fill out what closure looks like in a mentoring relationship and how to do it.

Maybe things to look for that might indicate that it should come to an end. Certainly, it should come to an end at some point. Mentoring relationships are gonna morph and maybe turn into a different type of relationship. But, clearly a mentoring mentee relationship should move through some sort of doorway into something different. And so closure in a way.

So we wanna pass this teaching on to you. As mentor coordinators, certainly this would be the teaching that we anticipate you sharing out to anybody in your congregation that might be doing some mentoring that might find benefit in this teaching. Brother Arlan and I will go back and forth here tonight. We’ll spend the first few moments, about 25 minutes or so with content, and then certainly are always open to conversation and questions that might result at the end here. So, let’s move on. And first looking at Ecclesiastes 3:1, you know the Scripture well, in everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven. It is so poetically said by the writer of Ecclesiastes that there is a season and there is a time, and certainly when it comes to mentoring, there’s a definite start and sometimes the time is right for an ending. And so we want to look at that.

We’re gonna really look at six different reasons for closure. These reasons are objectives. I think our calendar says that there should be closure. Perhaps we need to refer somebody on, transitions sometimes expedite closure incompliance or simply personality differences. And so these are six different reasons for closure that we’re gonna talk through tonight.

Listen, on each one we’re gonna talk about what we should be considering about this reason. So listen for perhaps ways to detect if this reason is coming to the forefront and closure needs to happen. We’ll talk about that in a consider portion, and then we’ll talk about looking forward, what does it look like to go through this door, one of these six doors. And then what does that look like in the future with my relationship with this person? So consider and what to look forward to as it result, as it concerns these six reasons. So, Arlan, I’m gonna kick it over to you. Let’s start with objectives.

For sure. Thanks, Matt for that introduction. And as he had said before, if you have questions, there should be a chat box down there, question answer. Feel free to add those to it, and we’ll be monitoring that and be glad to answer any questions. One of the first reasons why you might have closure in a mentoring type relationship is simply because you’ve met your objectives. You’ve set out objectives that you wanted to achieve and you’ve met them. And this really speaks to why you might be getting together. There can be a variety of different reasons why this mentoring relationship formed. Some of them are very objective driven. There might be a certain sin struggle that you’re trying to help someone walk through. There might be a growth effort that you’re trying to help with, growth in a relationship or something along those lines. And definitely if you find yourselves setting those objectives, those purposes early in the relationship, then it is natural to that as you walk through those, achieve those objectives, you’re gonna get to this point where you’re going to both hopefully realize, hey, we’ve set out and accomplished what we wanna accomplish.

Should we celebrate? Where do we go from here? Your questions are gonna start to be, okay, now what? And, really at that point, it might make sense to set new objectives. That’s the moving forward piece. Maybe we’re gonna set new goals. We’re having victory in this area. Now let’s move on to another area in the same type of process. Or you might draw that relationship to a close because it was a point in time situation. And we’ve worked through that point in time. Again, it speaks to the nature of what that relationship was. Some mentoring relationships might be a little bit more fluid, more on the friendship, accountability level. And so this one might not fit quite as much, but it definitely is something that we see quite often in mentoring relationships as to why they would come to a close.

The second one to consider is. Can I jump? Wanna jump in? Arlan, I wanna give actually, I had a question by somebody who was starting and doing some mentoring and she mentioned how the mentee didn’t seem like was real interested in and counsel didn’t seem real interested in really what she thought she was supposed to do as a mentor. The mentee seemed more interested in commiserating or just listening to her vent and those types of things. And as we talked through that situation, I encouraged her to have some objectives with this individual and say, what is your objective out of our mentor relationship? Is she just going to say, I just want somebody to listen to me. Well, then you can decide whether you want to be that person or not. If she’s gonna say, I want to grow on my spiritual walk, I want to grow with my mother, and I want to grow with this, and that, then that says, okay, those are my objectives. Then I am going to, I’ve got now reason to maybe assert, provide counsel. And if she doesn’t like that, we go back to the objectives and say, should we continue with this mentoring? Is this what you want out of mentoring? It almost gives you a way out now because those objectives have been made clear and you both can evaluate whether we are meeting those objectives and whether we should continue with this mentoring relationship. Just get it on the same page, I think is a helpful.

Great point, Matt, and it’s a good thing to consider. Let’s go on to the next one if you would, into calendar and ties a little bit with this too. Again, this might be a point in time type situation. You might be meeting with someone and maybe the person is a little bit uncomfortable with the whole idea. They maybe, sometimes you find a situation where they’re signed up by someone or strongly encouraged by someone, so they’re not a hundred percent sold on it. This could be a good way to get the ball rolling. You say, you know what we’re gonna meet for six months. We’re gonna meet for a year.

We’re gonna meet every other week for six months and see how that, and after that point in time you might say, you know what, we’ve emerged with some objectives, some reasons to continue on. And we should then move on to, let’s say, let’s meet for another six months, or let’s meet for another year. Or you might get to that point and say, you know what, this was good, this built a relationship. But it’s okay to move on. It’s okay to go on to the next piece. We’ve met our calendar requirements, so to speak at that point. Again, you’re gonna see a little bit of variation there. You’re gonna see it come a little bit, hit people a little bit differently at different times, but centered around this idea of a calendar and, so many times have been met, and now it’s time to move on to the next situation. I have used this before personally, I’ve used it in a couple situations like I alluded to before, where it wasn’t real clear what the person wanted, what the mentee wanted, and it was a chance to say, okay. And they’re a little bit nervous, a little bit uncomfortable. It was a chance to say, okay, let’s get together for a few times and see where it goes from there. And in one of the cases it continued on. In another case, that was the end and we closed and we moved on. So it’s a possibility. But it definitely comes up into that closure piece.

Yeah. And I think Arlan, this is a great one too, for a person who’s timid about starting this relationship, I think we’ve got timid both on the mentee side to start a relationship. And we’re timid on the mentor side because like, what is it that we’re getting into here? The mentee is wondering about, is this gonna be forever or how is this? And I think having a calendar, having some sort of sunset, reassessment of the relationship and of the mentoring, I think would probably allow people into it a little bit easier on both. Knowing that we’re gonna reassess in six months.

Why don’t you go ahead and talk about referral next? Yeah. So, I think one question that we get posed a lot is, when do I know I’m a little in over my head as a mentor. This is a common fear that people have that like, I’m not sure can handle some of the issues. And so, when do I need to refer them? And, here’s the good news. The good news is there is another person out there that can meet the needs and the demands. So if more qualified counseling needs to be provided, then there’s an avenue, ACCFS is one, there are others. We can make those referrals.

And so I think having this wherewithal that, you know what, mentoring may come to an end with me simply. I need to elevate it. This is not common. I mean, it happens. This, by no means is the norm that the issues that a mentor deals with is beyond them. But it’s nice to know that if it is, if there are things being dealt with such as, suicide or some deep mental illness, there are qualified counselors that can step in. Now, how do we know that? Here’s the consider. If there’s no improvement over time with increasing efforts, it’s the algorithm, right? This person is not going in a better direction. We’re not further along, or we might be relapsing or might getting worse over a long period of time. Here is what we’re talking about, right? So no improvement and yet we’re increasing efforts, right? That might be meeting or that might be assignments or we’re trying with no success really.

Well that might mean we need to elevate the situation, right? We need to perhaps bring in something, somebody else. Again, if the mentee is interested, if the mentee is still wanting the help, then this might be something we do. Now, what does that look like as we move forward though? It doesn’t necessarily mean that I have nothing to do with this situation, with this individual. In fact, a counselor very well might want somebody else involved with this person. In fact, likely will want somebody at the grassroots level walking alongside this person while they get a more qualified care. And so that just is gonna mean that our roles are gonna change. Maybe from being in this person’s face now, maybe I am alongside them getting coached with another professional counselor, some qualified counselor in helping me with this individual. So, I think that’s an important nuance to catch with this one. If we do make a referral, I think we should be open to what role now am I going to play in this new relationship so I can support this person as they get that qualified counseling care.

The next one is transitions. Do life transitions require a change? I don’t know how it’s been for you. But I actually find that transitions is probably the most common reason why I’m mentoring, and from my experiences has come to an end. You can see, a relocation, marriage, kids, these types of transitions are changes in a person’s life and certainly those changes also affect all of their relationships and the mentor relationship would be one. So I think as we go through transitions with people, I think a lot of times with a young person who gets a job and moves away towards that job, or somebody gets married and moves and finds themselves in a different place, there’s no doubt going to happen that’s gonna make a difference in the relationships we have as a mentor.

And so as we move forward, we’re asking, what should that relationship be now on the other side of this transition? Now that you have these other responsibilities, now that you’re in this other place, location, you have these other relationships in your life, how do you want me to come alongside you? And I think, the real message here on this one is communication, communicating with this person on what that looks like on the other side of the transition, because it will look different.

.Okay, Matt, the next one is probably the most uncomfortable closure situation is when you come across a mentee that is uncompliant or incompliant, they are not doing what you ask them to do. Perhaps they’re not even meeting you. You have meetings set up. They don’t attend. They don’t contact you with the situations that are arising, not doing it, perhaps you’ve given assignments or not doing assignments. There seems to be this general level of not following through. This can be a very difficult and an awkward situation. And yet it’s a critical situation. This is an opportunity to be a voice of loving truth into an individual. And, frankly, it can be a great opportunity in the sense that you have laid out goals by this point, most likely you’ve laid out objectives by this point, most likely.

And you have evidence, you can go back and say, Hey, look, you’re not following through, you’re not meeting, you’re not contacting, you’re not doing what we’re asking. This just isn’t working out. This is not something you rush into but this is something that, similar to the earlier comment of Matt, that if there’s no progress over time and the person continues to show this trend of not being compliant to the request, it’s time to move on, it’s time to bring some closure. It’s time to at least put a halt in it and say, I’m here, I’m available, the love side. I’m here for you whenever it takes. But then the truth side coming out saying, but I’m not gonna pretend this is working. We’ll get back together when you’re ready and when you’re ready to follow through. And you probably at that point want to give some pretty clear parameters as to what readiness looks like. What I would predict, it needs to involve some initiation on the part of the mentee. I don’t think readiness is continually poking them in the back until they finally turn around and respond.

It is at this point, lovingly waiting, maintaining the relationship to the best of your ability but waiting for them to say yes, it’s time to go to another level. If you remember our earlier webinar from last time on stages of change, often what’s going on here is you might have an individual who is not at a active stage of change. They’re in that pre-contemplative level. If there’s an issue that they’re dealing with and they’re not ready to talk through it or walk through it. And so we have to give some time for the Spirit to work and for the relationship to get to the right point. So it can be a difficult spot, but it is a critical spot and, like I said, it’s an opportunity to speak truth into that person’s life.

Any thoughts on that, Matt, before we go on to the last one? No, I think that was well said. I guess one piece of encouragement would be, I think this is one of the advantages of having a little bit of assignments. And these don’t have to be big assignments, it might be, I want you to read this chapter, I want you to do these things, but it is a little bit of an earmark when you meet, Hey, did you do that? Because if the mentor relationship is gonna close because of incompliance, you want to be in agreement there’s incompliance there. You want the mentee to agree that yes, I am not being compliant. And, pointing out missed meetings, assignments that aren’t being completed, things that are not being followed through are really tangible earmarkers that says, I’m not in it. And, so then they we’re both in agreement that we need to close. So just a point on that personalities.

Yeah, great point with that. And, like I said before, that one incompliance and this one, it’s very important that we don’t take this personal cuz I think these last two are ones where we can start to take a closure at a personal level and feel like there is a failure of some type. A personality closure would be when the connection just isn’t working. Different personalities, different interests, different passions. It just doesn’t seem to click and it happens. You’ve maybe heard me jokingly talk about my wife and I, we both taught history at the same high school for a period of time and every semester kids would switch classes. We both did world history. Kids would switch classes and it seemed like some kids would fire me and pick up my wife as a teacher, and some kids would fire her as a teacher and pick me up as a teacher. And the first couple times that happened made me a little bit frustrated. I’m like, what didn’t I do right? Or, why didn’t someone like my class? And then I started to realize. It’s okay. It’s not about me. It’s just the fact that different personalities mesh with different personalities in different ways.

And to another level, there were students that came to my classroom, were able to learn that weren’t able to learn in my wife’s classroom. She’s a great teacher and vice versa. And so if you find yourself over time, this isn’t gonna be the first meeting. This isn’t gonna be the second meeting, but several meetings in there just isn’t really a connection, it doesn’t seem to be the right fit. The first thing I would do is I would seek counsel maybe from your mentor coordinator, and talk that through, and get a feeling of, get another perspective on that. And then again, it’s time for that conversation that where you say, I don’t know if this is really working out quite right. I don’t know if we are the best fit for each other, and I want you to receive help. I want you to have a relationship that’s meaningful and purposeful and positive for you. So, let me help you find someone else and let’s be willing to step out of that role and let someone else step into that role and become a mentor for that person. That willingness to help and to go alongside that and to not take it personal but to realize that this is an opportunity as well to match that person up with someone that’s gonna be really beneficial for.

Arlan, any closing comments before we go to the final questionnaire? I don’t think so. Well, I do have one. As we went through all these and went through this entire, these six different scenarios for closure, the one thing that I was thinking as I was reflecting on this today, there’s only really one recipe where there is poor closure in a mentoring type relationship and that would be if the mentee has expectations and they’re waiting for the mentor to call, they’re waiting to be engaged. And the mentor over here is refusing that opportunity. They’re just not engaging, not taking advantage of it, not being purposeful, not fulfilling commitments on their end, that kind of a thing. That’s when we see sometimes this unmet expectations between the mentor and the mentee. And, that can be disappointing and so that would be one thing to guard against. I would view the other situations here we talked about tonight as opportunities in one way, shape, or form. And, just a general encouragement as we think about moving relationships to a close.

And so if we do talk about moving relationships to a close, we’re gonna conclude with some questions that could be used in a last session. Now, a lot of times we don’t have luxury of a last session, right? Perhaps the closure just drifts apart. The mentor relationship drifts apart because of one of these reasons. And we don’t have that opportunity to have a face-to-face. But sometimes we do. Sometimes we know. All right, we’re gonna bring this to a close and we’re gonna have one last meeting. Here are an example of six questions. For example, if you have the luxury of having an exit or a final meeting with somebody you might consider using questions like this.

Number one, talking about the reasons that this relationship is ending, right? And, again, that’s not always bad. Many times it’s something to celebrate. Number two, what was beneficial. Not that we’re necessarily seeking some sort of affirmation here, but we’re looking for something to celebrate. Can we recall where they’ve come from? Can we recall the gain that’s been made? These are really, really important. Things to put your finger on and sometimes when we’re let thick of it, we don’t remember to make those markers or comment on all the markers of improvement. So this is your opportunity as we bring it to a close, where has growth happened and to place our finger on that.

Number three, do you plan to seek out another mentor? I think one important thing is to realize we’re always in relationships and we’re always having and needing people to speak into our lives. And so as this relationship comes to a close in a sense, who else now are you gonna look for to speak into your life. Had that person thought about that, would be an excellent thing to bring up at this final meeting. What part do I play? That would be number four. How can I support you in the future?

I think there’s closure that’s helpful. Especially if you see this person frequently or you see ’em across the way. Just like you both know you’re on the same page. There’s not an open question out in either of your minds that closure is a very healthy, helpful thing for both of us. And so what does that look like in the future? I’m moving now from perhaps an authority figure in your life to more of a peer relationship, a friend relationship, or a companion or whatever. So, more of a coach than I meant for whatever I look like.

Number five, in what ways could the mentoring program be improved? Now again, we don’t always have this opportunity to get some feedback. This would be an opportunity, again, very programmatic or just very personal, as I personally am a mentor to. I would love to hear, what would you, what advice do you have for me? What’s worked well? What can I improve? Or what could this program, how could, as a church, we improve? So this is our opportunity to gain some helpful information from people who have been very near to the mentoring process.

And then number six, how should our relationship look forward? Very similar to number four there, but the big message here is, we’re not really dropping off, but we’re just changing. The mentor relationship is changing, and so we both understand the change that we’re going through and what that looks like, and allowing them to give you feedback into what their needs are and what they would like that relationship to be is a powerful thing. So here are six. You could probably think of your own very helpful, thoughtful questions that might help in an exit type of conversation.

Arlan, why don’t you add? I would just be open to any questions that anyone might have out there that would like to chat in to this. Otherwise, really appreciate what you said there, Matt. I think the heart of this conversation is just to be honest that this happens and this is real, and conversation and dialogue towards this and about this instead of leaving the elephant in the room unanswered is always a positive step forward. So, if there are any questions out there, you can text them to us. I don’t see anything on the chat box at this point.

Otherwise, we deeply appreciate you spending time this evening listening and hope that this can be a benefit and useful. And this video along with the others will be housed on the website. Again, the intention is to pull it off and provide it with anybody who would benefit from it. For sure. Well, very good. Thank you everyone for being along. And, we will have more. Every quarter we plan to have a webinar on mentoring. And hopefully we’ll see you back the next one. Thanks a lot for being here. Thank you. Have a good night.