General Identity Mentoring Helps

Mentoring Principles-103 Transparency

Windshields are transparent so you can see where you are going clearly.  Rain and snow obstruct that view and unless you use wipers, you put yourself and others into dangerous situations. Transparency is a cousin of authenticity.  If authenticity is more of an attitude of trust, transparency is like the window into my soul that reveals the crux of what I am wrestling with. Modeling transparency means, as a mentor you must be willing to lift your veil first.  A way to prime the pump perse’ in helping those who you mentor see the value of being exposed. Unconditional love and acceptance are part and parcel of real transparency. The real question that must be answered by those who you mentor is “Will he still accept me if I tell him my struggle?”  If authenticity is in place, transparency will happen sooner or later.

Here’s an example.  Matt had a long-held struggle with same-sex attraction. He told no one.His fear of even admitting such to others or to himself so gripped him that he wrestled with suicidal thoughts. As he got to know Blake through church, the two seemed to strike up a friendship not like any other Matt had experienced. Although Matt had never acted on his attraction to other men, there was something different about his friendship with Blake. He felt safe around him. Blake was several years older and seemed to have an uncanny ability to be real. Authentic. Blake shared his own struggles with life, including his seeming inability to find a girl he wanted to date. The two guys met regularly for Bible study. They talked about a host of things ranging from favorite teams to what it means to be a man. Then, one day, Matt finally opened up. He told Blake about his same-sex attraction struggle. “The thing about it, Blake, is you have been so accepting of me, and I’ve never told you about my struggle.”  Blake’s response was not what Matt expected. “I knew from the day we first met that you struggled with this. Although I don’t share a mutual attraction to you, I still accept you as a friend and frankly a fellow believer.” With tears, Matt opened up even more. “Truth of it is, Blake, I have felt this way since my teens and I just don’t know what to do with it. I’m scared. Is this really who God made me? Or is it just my self-focus that is getting me into such turmoil?” All honesty here, if Blake had not been authentic and transparent, Matt may never have opened up about the biggest struggle of his life.

Same-sex attraction within the church is a significant issue that some churches totally ignore. It’s a complicated issue and should not be oversimplified. The point I’m trying to make here about transparency is when we mentor in a way that aligns with Gospel values, doors open to deal with such complex issues like same-sex attraction in a redemptive way, as opposed to condemnation and damnation.

Transparency never bashes anyone.  If you are struggling with a relationship and tell your mentor about it, in confidence, that is not gossip. It is a sincere desire to find wisdom and advice. “I really dislike my roommate right now. He is driving me crazy, coming in drunk in the middle of the night. I want to love him like Jesus, but everything wants to run and hide when he shows up puking in the bathroom.”  Or, “I fell back into porn again and I ended up masturbating. I hate myself! I seriously don’t know if I will ever get past this. Can you help me?” Or, “My wife is over-spending. She buys things that are not in the budget. I can only provide so much and before payday comes around, we are out of money again.  I want to love and provide for her, but I am so worried over this, I cannot sleep. What should I do?” These are the types of issues a warrior who trusts you will open up about. Be ready. Don’t look shocked or let your jaw drop. Remember, part and parcel of making disciples is coming alongside those who need to come under the Lordship of Christ. When you, as a mentor, are walking with Christ, not perfectly, but increasingly so, and your soul finds its rest in the Lord, you will have an increasing supernatural ability to love those around you without conditions.  His love is full of grace and truth. Overlooking sin is not love. Coming down hard without an attitude of repentance and redemption is also not love; that’s legalism.

Practical Steps toward Transparency

Availability. I do not mean 24/7. Unless it’s an emergency, a guy has to sleep! Rather, relational availability.  Sporadic texting your warrior is a way to stay connected. There are often times I’m driving to work with the radio off, praying for people. When the Lord lays someone on my heart, I pray for them and later will text them what I prayed.  Sometimes, I’ll simply share a scripture that seems appropriate for what they are facing. 

Model Transparency.  If you are having a hard day, let your warrior know. “Pray for me, dude!” Explain what’s up. Let him also know when God shows up and how him praying for you was a definite sign of God’s grace.

Keep Confidences.  Remember that part of trust is being safe. That’s not to say you cannot seek another mentor’s wisdom for something your warrior has confided in you regarding. No need for names or specifics. Just enough to determine if the scriptural advice you give is on-track. Always, always, always, bring your warrior’s concerns FIRST to the Lord.  After all, he has far more wisdom than all the people you ask. If what they say dovetails with what God says, you are on to something.

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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