When mentors first connect with their mentees, there’s a natural tendency to jump right into ‘judgment’ mode.
From Jim Ryman’s version of Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest . . .
“The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple, you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical.”
Easier said than done.
We all have our own picture of what should be said and done. When people don’t say or do what we think they should, it’s totally natural for us to think critical thoughts. “Wow, that wasn’t good.” Or “How thoughtless!” “How careless!” “How insensitive!” “How selfish!” At home, when the thought turns into words streaming out of my mouth, they often start with the personal pronoun ‘you.’ Nothing good happens at my house when I start a sentence with “you.” What usually follows is . . . “You never __________,” “You always __________,” “If only you would __________.”
Chambers says we’re usually trying to find a reason to think more highly of ourselves when we criticize. He writes . . .
“You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.”
Jesus leveled the playing field when He said that seeing a speck in someone else’s eye masks the fact that we have a timber in our own (Matthew 7:3-5). Paul carries it further in Romans 2:17-24 when he says that in condemning others, we are condemning ourselves. Someone taught me this along the way (and it’ll tweet!) . . . What I find wrong in someone else is exactly what scares me to death about me.
In the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, one of the four dichotomies places ‘judging’ versus ‘perceiving’ . . . when you take the tests, your results lean towards one or the other. You are either a J or a P. Are we J’s . . . more apt to judge someone and open our mouths about it? (“There is almost always one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation,” says Chambers.) Or are we P’s who can we discipline ourselves to perceive others with love, try to understand them better and love them regardless of what they say and do? A goal I’ve had for the last few years is to move from J to P, from judging to perceiving. If I can engage with a mentee (or anyone), listen to what they say and try to understand them instead of judging them, I will be a better mentor and friend. You can’t ‘minister’ to someone you judge.
There’s no doubt, critical thoughts will come. It’s part of our flesh. But the ability to exercise self-control, to perceive without judging, and most of all, to keep our mouths shut and our minds open, will come only by walking with Jesus. Maturity is not saying everything you think. Moving from judging to perceiving is a move toward maturity. And a move towards Jesus.
Are you more of a J or a P?