Getting Out of the Blocks

  • Don Payne
  • Sep 2, 2000

Sprinters know that races are often won or lost at the starting blocks. We would like to suggest an idea that can get a new mentoring relationship off to a great start. It can also enhance an existing mentoring relationship by providing a variety of new, relevant insights.

The tool is simple. It's called a spiritual pilgrimage graph. It comes to us from Dr. Harold Westing, an experienced mentor who uses this with all those he mentors. He has found it to have a remarkable impact on the focus and direction of the relationship. Both mentor and student can profit from developing this graph.

On a blank page of paper draw a simple line graph (or create a computer graph) to depict the rises and falls of your spiritual pilgrimage. Mark equal segments of time by year. The horizontal continuum measures time from left to right. The vertical continuum measures closeness to God from bottom to top. It can begin with conversion or earlier. On each turn in the graph indicate the event or circumstances that changed the direction of the graph. This would include such events as a dedication of life in attendance at a certain session, a new commitment, marriage, starting seminary, etc. Tell the story of your spiritual pilgrimage by explaining the graph.

After telling your stories by using the graph, draw a second line on the graph indicating perception of how God saw you during those same years. In some cases, the line may be parallel, but in most cases the line will be substantially different. Then give an explanation of this line on the graph. In order to explain, you will have to determine the criteria that God uses for spiritual vitality. One of the most fascinating parts of the discussion will be how the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of life relate to God's view of our growth and development.

The last phase of the exercise may take more than one discussion depending upon how detailed you want to be. It would be advantageous to study various portions of Scripture that indicate God's perception of growth and decline. Without a doubt, many elements of one's theology of spiritual maturity will emerge. This is a great  tool  for  theological reflection. We hope you'll try this, either to give a new mentoring relationship a great start or an existing relationship a jump start.