Mentoring Through Paradox
In mentoring, we must deal with people in a paradox rather than a paradigm. A paradox is two apparently conflicting ideas contained in the same truth. We must die in order to live. We must give in order to receive. We must be last to be first. Paradox is both//and, not either/or. A paradigm is a one-dimensional way of perception and action that makes it easy for us to become annoyed or vexed in our dealing with people.
For example, a mentor needs to have no compromise with regard to righteousness. By itself, “no compromise” will back people into a corner, become angry at their non-response, and may treat them harshly. Judgement helps no one. It is the end result of an incontrovertible breakdown. However, love never ceases and goodness overcomes. As long as there is breath there is hope of change.
The concept and practice if “no compromise” must be rooted in love. That is an excellent paradox. All spirituality is paradoxical. Therefore, both the mentor and the disciple need to be moving in paradox. A loving attitude plus no compromise allows people to face their issues in the right environment. Love is atmospheric. God surrounds us with it, involves us in it, and influences us by it.
We need holiness with humility so that our gentleness supports people to come to a right conclusion and take a appropriate action. We need strength with patience. It can take time to change. It can take time to adjust. We force people to change when only strength is present. If change is to be permanent, it must be internal; otherwise they will return to their weakness later. Many times I have sensed resistance and I have pushed as far as God gives permission and then I have stepped back. Sometimes people need to go around the wilderness one more time. Patience is not giving up. It is saying that “time is on my side.” It creates the promise of a revisit at some point in the near/distant future.
Leadership with partnership is a powerful paradox. Without creating a sense of togetherness, our leadership can sometimes be overly authoritative to the point of bullying. I have had the misfortune to see some leadership bullying. It never works. It can produce acquiescence, but never wholeness. A partnership is a joint approach, an undertaking for a specific purpose. Good leadership supports the partnership that creates internal change.
We need to establish a present-future element in the conversation. Where are we now, where do we want to go in the future? Who are we in the present, who do we want to become? We are moving people out of their past-present lifestyle where they are governed currently by issues and prior circumstances. The antidote to someone’s past is not the present, it is the future. That is why prophecy is essential to counseling. God gives us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Pastoring people is easier when we are working from freedom rather than toward it. We work from the future back into the present. Finally, we need a dialogue with questions. Mentoring only becomes a discussion when the disciple is ready to make a decision. Until that time we must keep the dialogue moving forward. A dialogue is an opportunity to explore, discover and enquire of the Lord. It asks the right questions that empower people to examine who and where they are effectively. So often we have discussions simply because we are trying to get people to a certain point. It is contrived, to planned and artificial.
People change best when they arrive at an internal place of desire and willingness to be transformed. It is a metamorphosis, not a behavior modification.
Prophecy enables us to experience God’s heart in a now sense. The knowledge of God’s love and care will cause us to become more deeply attached to His person. To become like Jesus is the goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The aim of the prophet is always to release people to know, love and yield to the person of Jesus.
God speaks prophetically to enable us to enter into His divine nature. Careful attention to our character response will ensure that we are cooperating the the Holy Spirit to achieve this aim.