Updated: Aug 26
In this era in which our personas are on open display the space in which we can be vulnerable is scarce. The idea of the para-social theory can now be applied to everyone not just those of celebrity status.
A para-social relationship is a one-sided relationship that a media user engages in with a media persona. The media persona is a caricature - picture, glimpse, imitation, fictional character, or exaggeration of a person, thing, or concept. In today's time social platforms allows non-media personas to be the same. What we publicly share are glimpses into our lives.
For our public facing spaces, titles, roles, and status we are required or expected to project a persona. These can be exaggerated or misrepresneted. For example, the idea that someone is educated therefore intelligent. Unfortunately, they're not one and the same! We have achieved or come from a certain social background and status, therefore, we have decorum and morals. Rich people steal! It's called embezzlement. Poor people can be honest and oftentimes to their detriment.
In all of the photos we post and share we have smiles on our faces, we look well, look as if we have financial security, happy homes, sound relationships, and good health. Personas! For some what is shared is the truth. For others, it's still keeping up with The Jone's. My father warned me against that. He said, Don't try to keep up with the Jone's. The Jone's will end up on your dinner table!"
Wisdom Gem #1 - Desire and seek a mentor relationship in which you can be your authentic self!
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I,
but the grace of God that is with me.
I Corinthians 15:10
This is harder than it sounds! We encourage and say, "Be your authentic self!" And then we proceed to tell the same people how to be! This is so disingenuous! I often say, "What you see is what you get." This too is not all together true. I know how to display the persona needed in the moment. The question is do I want this same necessary public facing facade to be prevalent in my mentor-mentee relationship?
Wisdom Gem #2 - Mentoring requires vulnerability. Being mentored requires vulnerability.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalms 1: 1 - 3
The counsel - who are these men and women, these godly (God fearing) souls who sit in the gate (the gate is where the business transactions took place). Those who are in the marketplace - the academic, professional, spiritual, and community spaces. How vulnerable are they who have permitted themselves to be placed in the space of counsel, to be of the wise, to be a sage. Those who take on the responsibility of sharing knowledge and understanding, to shape the trajectory of someone else's life.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, his leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doth shall prosper.
WOW! All of this from listening and being obedient to the words that the mentor shares. Mentoring takes vulnerability! What if this isn't the outcome from what the mentor shares? This is always in the back of my mind. My prayer, Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight. Lord You are my strength and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14
The wisdom seekers - who are these individuals who search out the wise like eager students. Those that have allowed themselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. Those who are willing to admit that they don't know. Listen, there's only so much you can learn from Google and Youtube. Requesting mentorship and being open to being mentored requires you to humble yourself. The mentee's ego is just as much on open display as the mentor. Ego - that part of our soul that our identity rest.
Wisdom Gem #3 - The mentor-mentee relationship is a place to check your ego and align it with the purpose and intention of the connection.
One of my most humbling experiences was seeking out a financial advisor. I had to admit that I was financially vulnerable and unlearned. I was educated and broke! For those who know me personally, I'm not talking about my spouse and family. I sought out a financial advisor for me! When I contacted my advisor and eventually mentor, Kenneth Wilson, I was embarrassed! I had a need for understanding in this space. I was approaching my 50th birthday without any retirement plans. I had to leave my ego at the door of the virtual call.
Based on our previous interactions I felt like I could be vulnerable with him. I addressed the need for trust in my previous post on mentorship. I had to look Kenny in the eye and admit these things to him in order to get the help I needed. His response, "You are not alone! And I can help you!" Being able to share one of my most troubling issues opened up space for a mentor-mentee relationship in which I could be authentic and truthful. As an advisor and mentor he is knowledgable (in the Top 1% in the financial advising space in the world) and willing to share his wisdom with me. I have not always liked his suggestions and response OUCHIE! (covered in my previous post) however, I have found them to be well advised and truthful. The trajectory of my life has been immensely enhanced by our mentor-mentee relationship.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1: 2 - 7
This passage of scripture in the opening of the thesis on Wisdom in Proverbs, explains the mentor-mentee relationship.
Wisdom Gem #4 - The Mentor-Mentee relationship should not be a space of judgement.
In order to foster a space for transparency and vulnerability, the space has to be a space in which judgement is absent. In the presence of trust in a nonjudgemental space the relational character and richness of the relationship is formed.
Relational - Being relational means acknowledging the interconnectedness of human nature and the important role that relationships play in our lives.
The key word in this description is "human". When I began to learn the richness found in grace, is when I understood the human-ness of humans.
Meaning, we all struggle, we all desire to please God or someone. We seek to honor the life we have been given. Everything we do in life fits under this umbrella.
How gracious is it for someone to be vulnerable enough to mentor someone? How transparent is it for someone to be vulnerable enough to be mentored? How divine is it for God to have brought these two individuals together?
This is not meant for them to judge one another. The mentor can and should teach and offer correction, absolutely! We covered this in the previous blog post. The relationship is one of growth for both parties.
Wisdom Gem #5 - Does this Mentor-Mentee Relationship Support This Type of Relational Bond?
I recently went through behavioral therapy. For the first 3 sessions I talked circles around my emotions and angst. On the 4th visit, I asked my therapist for an open honest exchange. I didn't want to be concerned about persona. I didn't want to answer her questions with talking points and jargon. In this space, I wanted to be Pam! I didn't want to be Minister of 30 years, Wife of 33 years, Mother of 35 years, or Daughter. I wanted the permission to be me and unscripted.
Let's consider the relationship Jesus had with His mentee, Peter. Jesus chose to mentor Peter. Peter was blessed by the miracle of the fishes, repented and decided to follow Jesus. He moved up quickly. He knew who Jesus was. Declared it! "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." He was unaware of his internal flaws. However, Jesus was!
He told Peter the devil was trying to sift him, and that he would deny Him. When this came to pass, Jesus didn't judge Peter, He offered forgiveness. In His post resurrection message to the brave women who saw Him at the Tomb, He instructed them to go tell the
Disciples He had risen, "And go tell Peter!"
When Jesus found Peter with the rest of the Disciples on their fishing expedition Peter immediately recognized Jesus from their previous experience with the miracle of the fish. Although Peter was not in a place he should have been at the time, he trusted Jesus. Interesting to me, his response was the same as the first time. Jesus began to tell Peter of his future. The same as he did when he decided to mentor him and make him a fisherman of men. Jesus never brought up Peter's past mistakes! Instead Jesus instructed Peter to reset by reminding him of who he was.
Now we know Jesus had no faults or Sin. The benefit for Jesus in this mentor-mentee relationship was the Spreading of the Gospel and the establishment of the New Testament Church.
Jesus can mentor us through the Word of God. However, our earthly mentors do have flaws they are human, and they are not to be worshipped. They have been placed in our lives to help us grow.
Vulnerability is necessary to develop a space in which uninhibited growth can take place. This may not occur in every mentor-mentee relationship. Actually, I believe it might be quite rare. However, when it is discovered that this can be that type of bond it is truly transformational.
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