May 18, 2023

The Medicine of Laughter–Using Humour Judiciously

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Can you imagine a world without laughter? Can you imagine your relationships without a spark of comedy to keep life light and lively? Every person has their own specific sense of humour and it opens a beautiful window into their soul; humour allows us to see each other in a different light, to bond over the absurdities of life and to take ourselves a little less seriously. 

Job 8:21 reads; “He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”

This comes after Job has been through devastating trials that have tested every aspect of his faith. He feels hopeless and full of grief, but he is given this promise. Life regains light. A measure of love in the home is laughter at the table. Laughter is medicine for the soul.


How to Humour as a Mentor

As a mentor, humour is a competency that we can use to help others get through life’s darkness and difficulties, and it allows us to ease up, build trust and have fun with our mentees; an essential aspect of relational bonds. However, a mentor needs to use humour wisely; it shouldn’t be too distracting to the matter at hand. It can be a tricky line to walk. 

The purpose of the joke should always be kept in mind. In a professional setting, where the intention is to help your mentee, humour should be used to help positive growth. Maybe you want to affirm the connection between you with a silly moment, or you want to soften some harsh truth with an honest joke that lets your mentee know it’s okay that they messed up. Maybe you simply want to lighten the mood. Humour should be used for a purpose. Humour for humour’s sake can become dangerous; we are not there to perform, we are not there to only laugh, we are there to do a job. 

It’s also wise to avoid jokes that are crass or hurtful. Some light teasing can be acceptable if you have built a strong relationship, but you never want to damage trust with your jokes. ‭‭

Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭4‬ ‭NLT‬‬ reminds us that “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”

My Experience

Years ago, I was helping a mentee through a difficult time. He was feeling deserted and full of doubt. I asked him, “How can you build your trust that God will help you through this?” He recalled the story of David and Goliath, how David spoke the words, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” My mentee wondered if his own situation could be like wrestling a bear or a lion—an opportunity to learn and grow stronger for future battles. 

This reminded me of a story of my own that I told my mentee. Once, when I was going through a very difficult time, I sought counsel from a retired pastor who had served in World War II as a colonel. After a long conversation about my difficulties, and some kind advice, he barked at me, using his commanding military voice, “Don, this tough battle is preparing you for the next!” I used the same rough military voice as I told the story to my mentee. It made us both laugh and relieved the pressure, as well as communicated to my mentee that I had likewise wrestled bears and lions and, with the Lord’s help, came out stronger on the other side. This provided hope to my mentee that he would, too. 

I am using humour judiciously with my mentee:

Very true of me   True   Somewhat True    Occasionally untrue    Untrue    Very untrue of me 

Reflection Questions:

  • What is a moment where humour helped me get through a difficult time? 
  • Where did I use humour this week with my mentee? 
  • Was my humour appropriate and helpful to my mentee?
  • Who can I talk to about my humour in my work that will share honest feedback? 

What happens next? 

If you are looking to grow your mentoring skills, check out these resources:

Wondering what is your competency level as a Mentor? Mentor Q assess your mentoring competencies Take this assessment today:

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