Theology, Mentoring, and Clutches
Nov 21, 2008 by Don Payne | 0 Comments
During my time training mentors in Quito, Ecuador last week, my friend Dr. Les Hirst observed that my work in theology and in mentoring seem like an unusual combination. Though this had occurred to me previously, it made me think a bit further about how the two relate.
Mentoring is seen by some in scholarly circles as residing in the domain of ministry methods; the interest of pragmatists. Indeed, many of the conversations and resources related to mentoring are found in such environments. There are methods involved in mentoring. Yet, I have very little interest in methodological discussions per se. At its heart, however, mentoring is a deeply human endeavor, rich and complex. Therein lies the living connection with theology.
If you know anything about how clutches work to transfer the power of an engine to a transmission and drive train, try to envision the relationship in the following way. Theology functions something like a clutch that is directly connected to the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). Yet, theology is impotent unless it expands or moves so to touch and engage the ways in which we live (a pressure plate). When those two engage, something wonderful happens. When clutches wear thin or lose their grip, we all know what happens.
Mentoring allows for the transfer of deeply human knowledge, what Michael Polanyi calls "tacit knowledge." This is knowledge that runs deeper than and prior to our ability to articulate and analyze. Yet, it is genuine knowledge. This may be the subject of another installment, but this is one reason I am so committed AS A THEOLOGIAN, to the ministry of mentoring. It allows God's redeeming truth more avenues into the texture of human life than the merely analytical can ever provide. And one is just as theological as the other, if the doctrine of the Incarnation is to be taken seriously.