John and I “mentor” several young men and women, but I’m not crazy about that word. Basically we’re all just travelers on a road trip trying to help each other find the exits, and the Culvers, scrape up enough money for tolls, and not crash.
All of us stumble and run and trudge along with each other. Parent and child, friends of different generations, boss and staff, coaches, teachers, trainers…
Healthy or wounded or recovering, energized at times and weary at others, seeking sometimes, finding at others. Discouraged or joy-filled we need each other.
In all relationships I want to be present to God and to the other at the same time. Kind of like when I’m in the Great Room at church after worship, talking to someone I can always discern John’s voice if he’s also in the room. It’s distinctive and I know it. How I long for that same ear attuned God’s voice while I’m in conversation with others!
Awhile ago I heard someone suggest that as we are present to God with others, there is often one of three things He may want us to listen for that may be needed.
1 Thessalonians 2:11,12 says “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
Whether it’s a child or friend or co-worker, does this person need encouragement and affirmation? A picture of what’s possible? Celebration of what you’ve seen in them? Naming their gifts?
Or do they need an empathic listening ear? Someone to sit by their side and remind them they’re not alone?
Lastly, might they need a kick in the butt? Maybe that takes the form of correction or facing hard truth, or setting the bar higher?
This being present to God and others doesn’t come naturally for me. It takes practice and paying attention. And sometimes I just ask the person, “What do need most today?”
As I reflect over my conversations from yesterday, I was responsive to God’s nudging with friends who needed comfort and encouragement, but with the boy I tutor, I think urging – more challenge – was called for, and I missed it in the moment.
What about you?