Effective Mentors Ask Questions

two women mentoring

Kathy Collard Miller and her husband Larry Miller are the authors of a book I recently endorsed, Never Be The Same. I asked the Millers if they would share with you how some of the principles they discuss in their book could be applied to mentoring. I was delighted when I saw that they chose the topic of asking questions because that is the same advice and training I give to mentors. Instead of lecturing or trying to get the mentee to see things our way, questions can help the mentee arrive at her own conclusions. In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Naomi and Ruth: Together for the Journey, Session Three, Day Four is on “Asking Questions.” This method works well for parents too.

Effective Mentors Ask Questions

by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

One of the many goals of mentoring is helping our mentee identify her motive for the choices she makes. All of us react, respond, and choose based on our desires and wants, or what we think will prevent emotional or physical pain. Helping our mentee to recognize motives is a challenge.

We are lay-counselors, and as we help people make wise and godly choices, we’ve noticed that long-range change occurs with a heart transformation, not just mental assent. We have also been counseled and mentored, and appreciated the counselor or mentor who asked questions that helped us identify our motives and what we hoped to gain.

Why We Wrote Never Ever Be the Same

We wrote Never Ever Be the Same, to help people discover why they make the choices they do. Rather than encourage them to grit their teeth and vow to be better, we want them to have a deep spiritual change where they trust in God—not self-effort.

Asking Questions More than Giving Advice

Asking questions rather than giving advice helps your mentee to get in touch with her motivations. If you only give advice, your mentee could depend upon you for her power rather than having a heart for God. It can be difficult to think of the questions to ask.

Although we don’t provide a list of questions in our book, we do give examples of how we use questions with those we mentor.

Questions to Use While Mentoring

Here are some questions we ask. These aren’t in any order, but use according to what the mentee is telling you. Then ask more questions based upon the mentee’s answers or response:

  1. What did the other person’s reaction seem to say about you?
  2. What if you didn’t keep doing that? What do you fear would happen?
  3. What is God inviting you into through allowing these circumstances?
  4. What would you like to say to that person who hurt you?
  5. Why do you believe that’s true when other people have told you it’s not?
  6. What were you hoping or longing for?
  7. What do you feel is lacking in your life?
  8. What does that choice provide for you?
  9. What were you saying about yourself during the time that hurtful thing happened?
  10. How does your behavior leave out God in your life?
  11. How does that behavior protect you from some kind of harm or pain?
  12. Everything is a choice. Why are you choosing that destructive behavior: to gain something or protect yourself from something?
  13. What does your choice say about who God is?
  14. What does your behavior or choice indicate is your belief about God, life, or other people?

Learning to use these questions may take time. Asking them may not bring instant change to your mentee. But the Holy Spirit can use the mentee’s new sense of self-awareness to reveal wrongly motivated thinking and choices. That kind of heart transformation will have long-range benefits.

Share a question that you have found useful in mentoring that the Holy Spirit used to bring a heart change in your mentee.

Leaving any comment here will include you in the drawing for a free copy of Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller.


Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and an international speaker. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy often speak together. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.


Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions for individuals or groups.

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions. Even though you may find Never Ever Be the Same can only be pre-ordered on some online bookstores, if you pre-order, your cost may be less when they mail it to you.



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  1. Thank you, Janet, for all your help! We are excited to see who wins the copy of our book and we truly hope our comments will empower mentors to mentor more effectively in God’s power. We would love to hear from your readers. God bless you, Janet, for your heart of equipping others!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      You are welcome Kathy and I’m sure you will hear from readers who would love a copy of your new book. Thank you also for all of your support and encouragement over the years!

  2. I have noticed that I don’t ask enough questions and struggle with just instructing instead of letting the person discover the knowledge for themselves. I would love to win a copy of this book.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Emily, I’ll be sure that Kathy Collard Miller sees your comment. You are right that asking questions does allow the mentee to arrive at her own conclusions that she can embrace as hers. I also talk about this in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Naomi and Ruth: Together for the Journey– http://womantowomanmentoring.com/publications/bible-studies/#Together

    • Emily, thanks so much for stopping by, and especially for commenting. I totally understand your feelings. I’m still learning to ask questions. I can do it more easily in the “mode” of being a mentor or lay-counselor, but when it comes to my own family, I really lack asking questions. My fear that they won’t understand/acknowledge the lesson steps up and I take over instead of trusting God. I know our book will be beneficial because it gives lots of examples of asking questions in different kinds of situations: mentoring, marriage, family, friendships, and casual acquaintances. And it also helps the “mentor” to see their own unhealthy strategies. Thanks for your interest!

  3. As one who has sought counseling that has since transformed into a mentorship, I understand the power of asking questions to spark deeper self-insight. Active engagement with the mentee increases the likelihood of making progress. I find myself in mentor-like situations with friends and co-workers, and I’ve found that people like to ponder questions they are asked. They open up discussions, and that’s when you can feed them some truth. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t begun seeing such a great, skilled counselor. I’m very excited to see this new book. I’m sure it will help many people. 🙂

    • Janet Thompson says:

      You are so right Pam and often they will come to their own conclusions–the very ones you were hoping for them to arrive at. Then they can take ownership of their decisions and probably have a better chance of following through with them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement.

    • Pam, thanks so much for your comment here. You have benefited from a wise counselor who sees the benefits of asking questions. Larry and I had the same thing and now it’s joy to share that wisdom with others. You are doing the same. I truly believe God empowering us to do that is making a difference in the Body of Christ. Thanks for your encouraging words about our book. That is truly our desire–to help and draw believers ever closer to their loving Heavenly Father. Keep sharing with others!

    • The winner of our book is…. DRUM ROLL…Pam!!!!! Pam, please send your mailing address to me: KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com.


    • Pam, I’ll also need your last name.

  4. The winner of our book is…. DRUM ROLL…Pam!!!!! Pam, please send your mailing address to me: KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com.


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