"Are you offering to mentor me?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"I've looked for 18 months for someone to offer that!"
This bold young woman represents the heart of the younger generation. The need is there and it is clear. They may not seek you out because they don't want to be an inconvenience or they may just not know how to ask. But they want mentoring. They need mentoring, and they know it.
But they may not know all that mentoring entails. The truth is mentoring is more than just mentoring. It's not a programmed process. It is living life together. We laugh together, cry together, and share the mundane with each other. Keyword: Together. A mentor is a stable influence whose sole purpose is to communicate that they matter—to the mentor and to God. Mentoring is important because they are not just the future of the church, they are the current church.
The mentoring journey looks different for everyone. Consider this Mybook, Legacy is a guideline–it's just my story with some tips and tricks of the trade. But you do what works for you. Build relationships that fit you. But the first you think you must do is seek out the younger generation. Initiate a friendship because they are important. Like Paul, we are to look for and raise true children in the faith. (See 1 Timothy 1:2.) Your young friends should not have to look outside your church walls for spiritual parents. Prepare, search, and invite with Jesus as your motivation, and building the kingdom of God as your goal.
Yes, it's a huge responsibility, but it is anchored in Jesus, and with Him all things are possible. He is your power and motivation. Love because He loves. He invests in and builds the lives of others through you. You must be both a good teacher AND a good student. As a disciple, you are a follower, or a student of Jesus, and good students follow the example of good teachers. Are you a good student of Jesus? Because you have good students who are following you, whether you know it or not. You are a teacher and a student.
Reach back and remember what it was like to be a student in school. Maybe you were one of the students who easily sought out the teacher for help or affirmation. But chances are, you weren't. The majority of students are not inclined to seek the teacher for anything, but would rather fly under the radar, to keep from embarrassment or rejection. It's no different in today's generation, and it's no different in mentoring.
I know this can be intimidating. Daunting thoughts run through your brain: "I don't know anyone that age. Why would they listen to me? I'm not equipped!" I've felt that way many times. One particular moment comes to mind when I took my daughter to experience her first horseback riding lesson.
My daughter loves horses, and she begged for horseback riding lessons. We found a course through our local community education program, but I did not realize my participation was required. The first step in the class was grooming the horse, starting with cleaning the horse's hooves. She was given instruction and then expected to just step in and do it. She stood there, lost.
"Do you understand what to do?" I asked.
With big eyes she looked at me and shook her head no.
"Okay, this is how you do it." I stepped up to the horse and began to pick her hooves.
Truth be told, I was as unexperienced as my daughter. Never in my life had I been this close to such a large animal. My mind scrambled prayers and grooming steps together. It was a good thing I was listening during the instructions. My daughter watched me and mimicked my actions, and soon, she mastered all she needed to know.
I wanted my daughter to be confident and enjoy this class, though, admittedly, I was scared of the new situation. But I had to take the risk despite my fear because my desire to see her succeed was greater than my fear.
The same is true with mentoring. Your desire to impact a life must exceed the intimidation you feel. And don't worry—the more you do it, the more you practice, the more experienced you become, and though you may still feel intimidated at times, your fear diminishes.
Excerpt from Legacy by Leslie Schonfeld purchase a copy here.