Is God calling you to be a Youth Mentoring mentor? The following are four steps that may help clarify some questions about what it takes to be a Youth Mentoring mentor.
It is often impossible to judge other’s motivations, and it is even at times difficult to understand our own. Yet we know that God judges the heart, and it is the all-important factor in our relationship with Him. We must first ask ourselves what our reason is for wanting to be matched with a child. We must be careful not to join this ministry for reasons that may not be God directed. Here is a look at how our motivations can effect our efforts as mentors:
A. Reasons to mentor:
What are the right reasons for being a mentor? First of all, there should exist the deep conviction that God is sending you there for Christian service. If this is really what God wants you to do, He will give you the strength to face the setbacks that are sure to come.
The other right reason for joining this ministry is out of love for children – people numbered among the worlds forgotten. If you really love these people, you won’t use them for your own selfish ambitions. Your purpose will be, by loving words and actions, to point them to Jesus Christ, who is the author and perfecter of authentic love. Under the mandate of love, you also won’t get discouraged as easily when the going gets tough.
B. The Wrong Reasons:
Some well-meaning people have the potential to be compelled to help children by a combination of sympathy and guilt. They may be tempted to take on a child solely because of a sense of civic duty, in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
You may also be motivated to help a vulnerable child because you may have been one yourself. While this may be very beneficial in relating to the child and your story may be wonderful, children don’t always tie your sense of hope with their future. You may tell a child your story with all the fervency you can muster and after you’ve finished his/her response may still be, “so what?” God will use your past to help you build a friendship with a youth, but if your motivation is to save the child from your own pain or anguish, your message may fall on deaf ears. Kids want a relationship with someone who cares. If you seek to build a relationship, God will use your past experiences in a natural way.
Another misguided motivation is that of looking at converting people to Christianity as a “numbers” oriented issue. This kind of approach can create a feeling in the people being evangelized that the mentor is a “scalp hunter.” Scalp hunters reach out to people solely to convert as many people as quickly as possible, to add more “scalps” to their soul-winner belts
In short, we minister to children not to justify ourselves, or our church, nor to do our civic duty, not out of sympathy or guilt, or even to “win souls,” but because Christ commands us to go. Paul said in 2 Corinthian 5, “The love of Christ compels us.” If you go with any other motivation, you’re setting yourself up for disillusionment and disappointment.
Sharing our faith with kids is, indeed, what we are about. But as we said earlier, we show and share this faith in many ways, particularly by our actions. Most children resent a pushy, highly evangelistic approach. It either turns them completely cold, or they will accept the approach convincingly but falsely, just to get you to leave them alone. It is much better to form friendships with children, and to then let witnessing grow naturally out of the relationship. This takes time and patience.
Beyond a calling based on love, another quality of a good mentor is teach-ability. If you realize you don’t know everything about youth ministry, but are willing to learn, you are well ahead of the game. This means you are open to learn from the experiences of others, printed materials, and all the people in a youth’s environment. Keep this attitude and it is only a matter of time before you become an excellent mentor.
III. A GROWING FAITH
The Youth Mentoring mentor should have a growing faith: a faith that is deepening day by day. While you are not expected to be a theologian, you should be able to talk forthrightly about what Christ has done in your life and the hope He has given you. Your biggest asset will be your daily walk with the Lord. As you allow a young person into your life, and they share new experiences, challenges, and frustrations with you, they will be drawn to the hope that is within you – that is, Christ. Remember, you’re not a model of perfection, but a model of redemption.
IV. FAITHFUL FOLLOW THROUGH
Following through on your promises is essential for one to one mentors. Although your mentee may let you down and disappoint you, you will need to be faithful, consistent and dependable. This is a central requirement for an effective Christian in ministry.
Remember, many of the children and mothers we minister to have developed a thick veneer of distrust. It’s their strategy for survival. They have been bruised and disappointed many times and you must not allow your relationship to end in another failure or rejection. If you promise you will do something, keep your promise. Trust builds slowly. If you have a hard time keeping your commitments, then ministry to children and their families is not for you.