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  #1  
Old 23rd July 2013, 03:43 AM
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Sad Mentor relationship that seems to have gone toxic

Hello chaplain :-). I am a 29-year old woman who has been in a mentor-mentee relationship with a 58-year-old man. He is a bishop in the Christian church and he reached out to me because, according to him, he saw potential in me and he has made it his mission to invest in youth. Our relationship just consists of us calling each other weekly to discuss topics. We've been doing this for over a year now. He has given me some great nuggets of wisdom and has shed light on some misguided beliefs I had. He has increased my spiritual understanding and shared some of his life lessons/experiences with me. However, when before I would look forward to our conversations, I am now at a point where I dread to hear from him. My whole mood changes when my phone rings and I see that it's him. Talking with him often leaves me exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and just feeling inferior. Most of our conversations now just consist of arguing, him scrutinizing something I posted on Facebook, picking me apart, challenging everything I say, grilling and bombarding me with loaded questions, etc. I'm not entirely sure how or why it got to this point but it just doesn't feel like a healthy dynamic anymore.
One reason all of this is complicated and confusing to me is because I'm not sure if my feelings are valid. I have told him before that I feel like he uses my words as ammunition against me but he said he's using them 'for' me. I told him that I feel like he criticizes and scrutinizes me but he says he is not criticizing but it is his job as my mentor to point out faults. It seems like he's always right and I'm always wrong. Every time I talk to him I just feel silly, every claim I make is quickly shot down. And it kind of feels like he finds pleasure in his ability to disprove me or make me look stupid. He often takes me through grueling interrogations that are usually designed to set me up for an indictment. Have you ever met someone like that? It drives me nuts. He strongly asserts that he is trying to help me and teach me how to think and I want to believe that. But my gut is telling me that although he's not a bad guy, he's an obnoxious, arrogant, and argumentative person who delights in defeating people intellectually. I often go back and forth - am I just being overly sensitive and engrossed in my feelings or has this really become a toxic relationship?
I am seriously considering ending this relationship as it seems to be doing more harm than good - at least emotionally. Do I just need to toughen up? Because sometimes it is necessary to be challenged. Sometimes growth and development hurts. Should I believe that he has my best interest at heart and not deny myself of potentially valuable wisdom simply because I don't like the delivery? Because he's not going to change, he believes that I am the one who needs to mature and gain a correct understanding. Maybe he's right.....but I just don't know for sure. Is there any Biblical advice you can give on how to handle this?

Thank you for your time and God bless
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  #2  
Old 23rd July 2013, 11:13 AM
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First, I am in favor of mentoring relationships. However, I do not think having a 58 year old male mentor a 29 year old female one on one is wise. And it seems that this mentoring has become overtly paternal.

I would suggest you tell him that you appreciate what you have learned from him but feel like it is time for a change. If he can accept this, fine. If he insists on continuing explain that you have made your decision and need for him to honor it.

It might be good to find a mature Christian woman to mentor you some to balance out a bit. Or a small group can be a good way for some mutual encouragement.

I have been a pastor for many years and would not engage in a mentoring relationship for a year such as you have described. For ten years I was a singles pastor with most folks your age. We had women mentor women and men mentor men. I look back and see that as a wise decision.

Grace and Peace
Chaplain Steve

Last edited by drstevej; 23rd July 2013 at 11:25 AM.
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  #3  
Old 23rd July 2013, 06:36 PM
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Thank you very much Chaplain Steve. I believe you are right that women ought to be mentored by women. Knowing this man, I have a feeling he will accuse me of making the decision to end our mentoring relationship out of emotion instead of making the decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Christians are supposed to. He will say that we have an obligation to submit to authority even we don't like or agree with them or their way of doing things. He will say the truth is a sword and therefore hurts but it ought to supersede feelings and our own personal desires. He talks extensively about the need for Christians to be Spirit-led in all our decisions - major and minor. I hear "Spirit-led" so much, I think I'm confused about what it means. Thank you for your response. It didn't fall on deaf ears. God bless.
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  #4  
Old 23rd July 2013, 06:40 PM
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Prayers for you as you follow through. Let me know if I can be of further help.

Chaplain Steve
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