As an absolute minimum, it is important to meet with the Candidate before and after each degree ceremony to put him at ease and to answer any questions he may have. Regular meetings thereafter will assist in the implementation of a development programme which allows the Candidate to achieve his goals.
The amount of time necessary will vary considerably from Candidate to Candidate according to their level of self-confidence and the amount of research they may have undertaken privately. Nevertheless, even with the most confident of Candidates, considerable work may be involved and you should not consider becoming a Mentor unless you are able to make a real commitment in terms of time.
In addition as a Mentor you should:
- Ensure you are seated next to the Candidate during the Lodge meeting.
- Ensure you are seated next to the Candidate at the meal and introduce him to others present (i.e. Lodge members, their guests and visitors).
- Be prepared to visit the Candidate at his home if invited to do so and keep in contact outside of Lodge meetings.
- Accompany the candidate at all times when he is required to leave the Lodge Room. This is a very useful time for answering questions and explaining what has happened.
- Explain Freemasonry, its structure, Offices, symbolism, ceremonial, and demonstrate the correct manner of saluting. Ideas of what to cover and when can be found in the section on Mentoring Aids.
- Take a supportive interest in the progress made by the Candidate. Congratulate him on his progress and encourage him to develop it still further.
- Help the Candidate to learn the Ritual as he progresses in the Lodge. Not just the words, but more importantly, their meaning.
- Encourage the Candidate to play a full part in the life of the Lodge, both ceremonially and socially.
There are of course different stages in the overall process of Mentoring, namely -
1. Getting started
The first meeting, whenever and wherever that takes place, should be a time to get to know one another, building rapport and sharing experiences outside Freemasonry. Discuss when and where you will meet in future and how you will communicate. Talk about the expectations you both may have and especially the level of confidentiality.
2. Laying the Foundation
As the partners get to know each other, it is possible to establish what each expects of the other. As Candidate and Mentor get to know more about each other, so trust is established and a point is reached where discussion can take place openly and honestly.
3. The Progressive Stages
The Mentor helps the Candidate to increase his knowledge and acts as a confidant and motivator. During this phase he devotes more time to focusing on the provision of detailed information relating to all aspects of Freemasonry. At the end of each session he should take a few minutes to discuss with the Candidate what has been achieved and whether the Candidate feels the session has been worthwhile. Following a meeting, indulge in a little self-analysis (What could I have done better?)
It is essential the Candidate appreciates he may speak with you at all times in the strictest confidence. He will hopefully recognise you not only as his Mentor, but also as his friend.
Ask if he feels you are helping him to settle in. Try to assess his level of interest - is he responsive, does he asks questions? Does he ask spontaneously for help and guidance or are there signs of hesitation, discomfort or even avoidance?
Do not adopt an overtly direct style of questioning and try not to encourage yes/no answers. Listening techniques are just as important as questioning techniques. Naturally, the Candidate will gain confidence over time and if you find he is doing more talking than you, you are probably well on the way to achieving your goal.
Should you at any time feel your relationship with the Candidate is becoming strained in any way, you should immediately seek guidance from the Lodge Mentor.