Mentorship: for better or for worse
Even the best mentors have bad days. Today, I'm going to tell you about one of mine. At the tail end of a period of hyper-focus on a particularly challenging task, I had reached physical and emotional exhaustion. I'm pretty good at pushing through and keeping things together amid chaos. But my reserves were low, and I was pushing beyond my limits, and I knew it. In a team meeting, I was surprised by an unexpected announcement that caused me to overthink and become aggravated at one of the families that I am mentoring. I kept it together in the meeting but pulled them into my office afterward to discuss their surprise announcement. Remember, my reserves were gone, and I was responding out of insecurity and hypersensitivity. I started off calm, asking for them to explain their decision. But when they openly shared frustrations of their own, I felt my jaw clench. I was struggling to keep my temper in check. It didn't happen. I lost control, and I stepped out of the shepherding role and into the "I'm the boss, and that settles it mode." It wasn't pretty. The worst part was that I saw the pain and confusion on their faces in live-action. After the meeting was over, I knew I had screwed up. I bet you are wondering how I fixed it, we will get to that later. Guess what? Your mentors are not superheroes, they have glaring flaws and weak spots. They may be a bit ahead of you on the path, but they are being sanctified, too, just like you. One of my mentors, who I adore, hurt me very deeply. To this day, I have never had the opportunity to rectify our difficulties. I learned so much from him and his wife, but I hadn't expected to learn from their mistakes. But that is what happened. First, I forgave them for the pain they caused me. But then I turned it into an opportunity to grow. I determined what exactly it was that they had done, and I promised that I would never do that to my apprentices. And I have kept that promise. The best part of having a mentor is that you can siphon off some of their gifting and talents and make them your own. But if you are not careful, you will end up picking up the bad habits and weaknesses of your mentor as well. In that case, the apprentice has to show some maturity. He must forgive and then adjust his behavior to not follow in the same mistakes as his mentor. So, how do we resolve things when we are the one who screws up. Well, I called the husband up (he was the one who took the brunt of my temper), and when he was ready to talk, I confessed my sinful behavior. I told him that I was sorry. I explained that I had also not taken rest for some time, and it led me to be weak and impulsive. I shared the areas that God is still refining in me. We prayed for each other, and we waited for the wound that I caused to be healed. While sitting in my pickup in a dark parking lot, we made things right, and we moved forward. The next morning I loaded the family in the truck, and we took a week off from work to recuperate from a rough couple of months. Things got back to normal quickly. So to summarize:
Apprentices, give your mentors grace when they need it, but learn from their weaknesses. Don't make the same mistakes.
Mentors, be quick to confess and ask forgiveness when you mess up. Be open about the areas where you are still growing. Transparency and vulnerability are the keys.