The Eucharistic Character of Mentoring
Sep 25, 2008 by Don Payne | 1 Comments
What actually happens when mentoring touches deep places in our souls, functioning as a healing or hope-giving instrument in God's hands? As we gain greater theological understanding of why mentoring works as it does, we can engage it more faithfully and are more resistant to the temptation to simply baptize the intoxicating cross-currents of our culture with Christian language.
Recently, I picked up a clue to my own question when our graduate Ian Morgan Cron gave our annual Spiritual Life lectureship. The second day of the lectureship he spoke on the eucharist ("communion" or "The Lord's Supper") and described the significance of being given the bread rather than reaching out and taking the bread. That, he suggested is a metaphor for how the bread of life actually comes to us from God. The problem in the Garden of Eden, he pointed out, was "taking." In striking contrast, we once again receive life through Christ.
I hope it's not too much of a stretch to draw a parallel with the "lifegiving" function of mentoring when, in God's hands, a mentoring relationship draws us forward toward the people God made us to be. However intentional we may be in pursuing and engaging mentors, a mentor's time, wisdom, presence, attentiveness, and love are gifts that cannot be demanded or grasped. They can only be received as gifts from God Who has chosen this scandalous pattern of often manifesting His healing presence in our lives through others. All this makes me wonder whether the giving and receiving of gifts might be a paradigm for just about all genuine healing, growth, and transformation that we can experience. If so, we are wise employ disciplines that help us be attentive and engaged receivers. Yes, we come to the table, but we come because we are first invited. And we come with open hands that can only faintly mirror the depth of our need and hunger for God to meet us, feed us, touch us, heal us, guide us.
Mentoring is only one expression of that, certainly, but when held up in the light of that giving-receiving paradigm, it reaches further and deeper into our lives than any mere development methodology could ever do.