Teen Mentorship: Part 1 of 3
Today kicks off a three-part written series taking place over the next three weeks for our teens and their families in the Vancouver Church of Christ. This is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about the value of mentors and our strategy to connect our kids with other generations. Here’s what you can expect to find over the next few weeks:
Part 1: Why We Need Them
Part 2: What God Says About It
Part 3: How We Will Do It
So without further ado, here is Part One: Why We Need Them:
Sometimes I wonder why God puts such a high priority on making sure we have other people watching out for us. For one thing, the world doesn’t always seem to be full of geniuses. For another, I am fully aware that most of the time I make a poor adviser for myself, much less other people.
That being said, I remember some timely bits of wisdom that helped (or would’ve helped) spare me some bad outcomes:
When I was six or seven, I got done watching a He-Man TV marathon (hopefully you remember that show, because it’s as good as TV gets) on a Saturday morning. He-Man was a big, buff, powerful guy that spent his free time beating up bad guys. Needless to say, I looked up to He-Man, and thought I should be just like him, so I decided I was going to go down to the local park to “beat somebody up”. It didn’t matter who, so long as somebody got beat up. My older cousin Travis, whom I’ve always admired, advised me not to do such a thing. I did it anyway, and my parents found me later that day crying with a kid standing on my head in the sandbox. I told him to come down from the swings so I could beat him up. It didn’t go as planned. I wish I would’ve listened to Travis.
When I was eleven, I thought it was a good idea to use the side wall of my house as a makeshift hockey goal and shoot pucks at it. Just before I began hitting pucks at a delicately finished brick wall replete with windows, my brother Bryan came out and suggested I think twice before engaging in the activity. I think it spared me some pain later on.
When I was in high school, I played on a competitive hockey team comprised of mainly older (25-35 year old) French-speaking Swiss guys and my gym teacher Tim. I earned the nickname “Le Peu”, roughly translated as “Stinky”, because I wouldn’t shower immediately following games and practices. Those games or practices would sometimes precede a cramped eight to twelve hour bus ride home. I wondered why nobody wanted to sit next to me. Tim informed me of my budding reputation and gave me some advice on treating my equipment and proper sanitation after each game. He also proved to be about an invaluable friend on those long bus rides, because I could hardly communicate with anyone else. I am grateful to him to this day.
I know those seem like silly examples, but they meant a lot at the time that they happened. And despite the triviality of each story, I needed each of those guys at those times in my life. They enriched my life and added wisdom at important times that shaped my future (immediate or long term) in significant ways. The truth is, we all need of guys like Tim, Bryan and Travis from time to time. After all, as the writer in Proverbs says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
That’s why we are going to push forward with our mentoring program in the teen ministry. We all need somebody who will guide us, advise us, support us, and be a source of wisdom for us as we navigate the tricky waters of high school. I’ll address specifics in the next two weeks about how we’ll be practically doing this. In the meantime, I am only asking one thing from you:
1. If you are a teen, start thinking about people you look up to in the church. Consider their life, faith, career, personality, or whatever else you want, and pray that God helps open your heart to opportunities to get to know them better.
2. If you are not a teen, pray about your willingness to play a crucial role in somebody else’s life over the next couple of weeks. Ask God to examine your heart and find ways for you to bring more of Him to the world around you.