My Best Help Comes From…
For the Christian, “mentoring” has objectives in the real world beyond the stuff of legends.
“Discipling” is a close synonym, with these differences: A disciple is one who helps an understudy to 1) give up their will for the will of God the Father, 2) lie daily a life of spiritual sacrifice for the glory of Christ, and 3) strive to be consistently obedient to the commands of his Master.
A mentor, on the other hand, provides modeling, close supervision and accountability on special projects, individualized helps in the practical areas of life—the “unwritten manual”, as the mentor him or herself is seeking the same.
Accountability—we’re back to giving someone access to your professional and personal life. Seeing the tipping point between “rarely, or never” and “occasionally” across all church worker household connections—we see must celebrate those do so on a “several times a week”
and “almost every day” basis—more nee what they have already carved out time to fit into the speed of life. When asked, “When I am struggling, my best help comes in the form of:”, 69% indicated, “One person who listens, cares and comes alongside me”. There is a receptiveness—but maybe they don’t know how, or maybe they don’t know they can?
Second, at 19% was, “Being given space to work it through by myself”—that’s a lot of responsibility to hold by one’s self—without the perspective of sharing with another the struggle of your heart—and listen to your own expression of the, “I know I’m not perfect., but…” to realize where, or upon whom one believes the source of their struggle lies. Third, at 11%, with women more receptive than men, was “Small groups—that share, care and support”. Until you speak your struggle- no one can share with you—it is their struggle, too! And last, at 2% was “large groups—that instruct”. How refreshing to see so few indicate this their best form of help.
To the question, “Right or wrong…my perception of the available help to me or my family is:” we found two categories of people: the 77% who sense the availability of ‘many willing listeners and encouraging hearts everywhere” and “I have one person who will always listen and care”, and the 23%, who have to some degree lost heart as reflected by 5% said, ‘I look around and everyone is too busy for me to trouble them”, 9% said “I fear if I truly expose the troubles in my heart, I will put my job and relationships at risk”, and to the withdrawal/avoidance response 6% said, “I no longer desire to share the struggles of my heart with anyone connected to the church/school”.
To the question, When I struggle in my spiritual journey, what I need most is: “
44% said, “Someone to encourage me” and 27% said “Someone who will listen to me”—ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, not solving my problem; 15% said, “resources I can use on my own”; and 11% said, “someone to pray with me”.
Martin Buber identified three broad ways we recognize and interaction with others.
I-it relationships are those where we do not even acknowledge or recognize the humanity of a person. When a person walks out of a coffee shop and ignores the pleas of a homeless person asking for some spare change, and I-it relationship has been formed, in one’s mind.
I-you relationships are formed when we acknowledge the humanity of a person, but engage them only according to their social role, or what they can do for us. The people who serve us lunch at the restaurant, the mechanic at the garage who rescues our dying car, the casual work associated, mail carriers, bus drivers, and so forth can easily be placed into this category.
I-Thou relationships must be fostered only by viewing the person as unique and irreplaceable. These are rare relationships in which we acknowledge and focus on that person’s qualities that no one else possesses.
To counter-act the slip into the I-you, we need to remember that each person we come into contact with—from those who serve us our food—to the spouse with whom we share our life—carries the “imago Dei” or image of God. “There are no dittos among souls!”
This look at the form of relationships extends deeply to what we all desire to be THE I-Thou relationship that matters most, here on earth. Remember the 23% who have lost heart, that anyone out there who no longer believe anyone has time or desire for an I-Thou relationship with them—if their struggles got out.
The more a person senses their own level of distress—the more they tend to believe they are the –you, or –it—or try to become the I. Part of the one-to-many; one-to-some; and one-to-one forms of care ministry parallel’s benefit from use of our three colors on the dashboard: Green is always open to enrichment; Yellow is usually open to not knowing how—but want to; and Red is usually stuck! Even to the point of no longer struggling—with their problem—and even with God.
When all were asked, “Which of the following resources are of interest to you? Outside help”, the responses were: Church worker-oriented web site with marriage and parenting helps was favorably to nearly half, across all four roles. The – 10 pts by ordained worker spouse’s hints at the I-it; or I-you slip—it is about the marital climate—not knowing what to do.
And last, the receptive to counseling by affiliation with the District; around one-third view District non-affiliated counselors for marriage and parenting issues favorable, and of interest to the aggregate. This dropped to one-fourth with District-affiliated counselors… with the largest difference -14 pts for commissioned worker spouses; and 12 pts for ordained worker spouses. Of special note is the – 14 pts, with the ordained worker, too. For some—the perception of help through counseling suggest dire problems, rather than help seeking change. With counseling-like care the current norm—gives cause to rethink in light of these findings.