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In an effort to help I looked for opportunities to make myself available for him to talk to and access any experience or wisdom I might have to offer.
So I took him for a haircut. Obviously. While it’s true that he desperately needed one, I also knew it would give us some time together where he could open up if he wanted to and I could ask some open questions if it felt appropriate. Otherwise we could just hang out together, which is important in itself.
I was surprised when a moment presented itself. We were struggling to cross the road due to traffic and he suggested we walk back up the hill to a pedestrian crossing so we could come back down on the other side. I glibly quipped: “Sometimes you’ve got to go backwards in order to go forwards.” And then a mentoring conversation opened up. I posed the idea of how he could go back to move forward as a question and, as usual, his reply surprised me, and we had a great time together. That’s the beauty of mentoring.
So I’ll pose the same question to you, both personally and for use with your own mentees. In what area of your life do you need to go backwards in order to go forwards?
It might be that you have been putting too much pressure on yourself. Perhaps by not trying so hard, giving up on a few ideas or youth and children’s clubs, or taking a rest from try to get up at 6am to pray every day you may actually relax, calm down and breathe a bit more life and freshness into those respective areas.
This paradox is evident in all kinds of places:
In running, going slower can develop your slow-twitch muscles and aerobic capacity, enabling you to actually run faster.
In DIY, taking longer to properly seal a shower cubicle before tiling it may save a lot more time than not…And it will also help you avoid having it leak through the downstairs ceiling (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything).
In trying to motivate a team, going back to basics and returning to the original aim often refocuses efforts and increases productivity more than introducing complicated new initiatives.
Don’t forget that God went backwards too, giving up his divine rights and being born in a dirty cave in order to achieve more glorious things. He also had to suffer and die so that we could be forgiven and become alive in him.
Ask your mentee: what do you need to sacrifice in order to gain more with Jesus? Where do you need to go backwards in order to finally go forwards? Do you need to stop worrying about certain things in order to trust more and see change? Are you too busy? By cutting something out will you do other things better? If they feel a backward step is needed to progress, encourage and pray for them.
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