General Mentoring Helps

Mentoring Principles-104 Vulnerability

This is the true test of mentoring.  Vulnerability is taking the risk of being hurt out of love.  Let me explain. A classic verse that speaks to mentoring is Proverbs 27:17 ESV“ As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  If I take two knives and rub them together, they create friction. Heat. Things get uncomfortable. No one likes to be under the knife, but the pain of a brother’s critique of you will pay off if you have built a relationship of authenticity and trust.  

One time a good friend I met with pointed out how he saw me treat my wife in public.  “It was not cool dude.” He warned me. Frankly, I was mad. He was right, but to be confronted ruffled my pride. I realized I could push back deflecting the accusation, or I could accept it and learn from it. I’m grateful that humility won out. Humility and vulnerability go hand in hand. To be such is to be teachable. Listen to correction knowing the one who is emphatic with you is doing so out of love. This gets into constructive criticism. “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” Proverbs 28:23 ESV.  “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26 ESV. There is a significant difference between criticism and constructive criticism. True vulnerability is filled with constructive criticism.  If you are on the receiving end of constructive criticism, receive it as a word of grace, not a blow to your dignity. If your friend is truly your ally, he will speak the truth to you in love. And conversely, if the tables are turned, you should do the same. This is what Christ calls us to in relationships, and definitely in mentoring.

Vulnerability means taking deeper risks in relationships and reaping the rewards.  On a spiritual parallel, when you are vulnerable with God (who knows everything about you anyway), your faith relationship with him grows deeper and more vibrant as well. If you have ever been hospitalized, you know how drafty those hospital gowns can be. When I had my quadruple heart bypass surgery, they put me in a yellow gown; yellow for fall risk. My backside was continually drifting open for all to see! After a while, I decided there was no point. I’m sure I mooned some unknown strangers, but in the end, no big deal. Mentoring is about wearing hospital gowns.  We each have our struggles and exposing them is part of the healing process.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!

   Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me,

   and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Practical Steps towards Vulnerability

Don’t run from Conflict  To my own shame, I detest conflict. It puts a pit in my stomach and shuts me down faster than anything.  Yell at me and I become stoic. And, that is where the problem lies. Conflict is generally two ideologies that collide.  We realize we are not on the same page. This is where vulnerability is tested in a relationship. Supernaturally, God is there to draw the two of you towards reconciliation. Not reconciliation the way you think it should work out, but in a way that both of you find your character stretched. You can agree to disagree on an issue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you must separate. Sometimes we run from conflict because we are afraid of what is hidden deep in our soul. When you grasp God’s love for you, there is no room for fear. Oh, how this has been a hard lesson for me in mentoring.

Identify the Limbic Lies Through a variety of experiences done to you and choices you’ve made there are consequences that have made life less than what it should be. Embedded in those are lies about life, about you. When you identify the lies you have been living, you get to the point where God can start to penetrate to depths never dealt with in your soul. I didn’t say it would be easy, but through the process, even tears and regret, God can do a new work in you; replacing those lies with the truth.

List out God’s Truth about You. For every limbic lie, list out a truth God says about you that counters the lie.  For example. Limbic lie: I am not good enough. I am damaged goods. God says, yes, you are sinful and in that, you are not good enough to earn salvation, but I have set my love upon you and in that my good has become yours.  When you trust me by faith, my righteous is now yours.

When you have experienced vulnerability, even with the pain it can bring, and have in turn repented of any sin and handed it to Christ, HE will begin the healing process in you.

When it comes to mentoring and these dynamics are occurring, you are in the crux of where God is doing his greatest work in your and your warrior.

Warrior On!

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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