same old songI cannot count the number of times I have encouraged Nick* that what he was doing over the last five years, spending time with Ray* (15 years old) weekly, was making a difference. My words carry some weight, but when Ray* actually expressed it to Nick himself, you could have knocked Nick over with a feather.

Their friendship has been such that at many times Nick has questioned himself, me, and even God as to whether he was “really making a difference.” This is an all too familiar refrain, so common in fact, that it often serves as the “mentors’ chorus” surrounded by varying verses of the same old song;

Do you think he really wants me to come?

Am I really making a difference?

Maybe he’d be better off matched to someone younger.

Am I really making a difference?

I can tell he’s not interested.

Am I really making a difference?

I don’t know what God was thinking when He put me with Ray!

Am I really making a difference?

My response is often a gentle explanation that invokes the farmer and the seed metaphor, 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase,” or a simple, “I hear you, but please continue. You’re all he’s got,” followed by prayer. Last Thursday the song changed, praise God!

Attempting some light conversation with a question focused on the activities they had been a part of together, Nick, grasping at straws asked Ray, “What has been your favorite part about being matched?” Ray, taking a surprisingly different interpretation of the question answered without hesitation, “Just having someone who cares about me.” Nick, rarely at a loss for words, sat there comfortably numb as Ray’s words reverberated inside the car and just as quickly faded into the hum of the engine and the barely audible whistling of the wind.

It doesn’t take much! Nick is once again very excited about being matched and is seeing things more clearly than we’re in reality, always there, just not quite in focus for him;

  1. Ray does need him and is very appreciative of the time they spend together, no matter whether it’s walking and talking, grabbing a hot chocolate, or changing the oil in Nick’s car.

  2. Nick is making a difference in Ray’s life and to Ray, that’s all that matters!

  3. God knew what He was doing all along and Nick is the instrument He is using to shine the light of Jesus’ love and acceptance upon Ray, even at those times when Ray is still hiding in the shadows provided by his closed demeanor.

I praise God for the many “Nicks” out there who trust the Lord to use them in such an important way and to make a difference in just one child’s life.

The mentor’s lament has for years been, “Am I really making a difference?!”

Mentoring is not an easy calling, but it is an important one. There are many ministries that produce instant results, but this is not one of them.

That fact coupled with the reality that we are a “crockpot ministry” existing in a “microwave world” can exacerbate the feelings a mentor has of inadequacy.

However, our experience over 35 years tells us that while the feeling expressed above is not uncommon, it is most often unfounded. Little children, middle school kids, and even teenagers are not always willing to “open up” as we desire them too. That does not change the fact that “Every child needs at least one person who is crazy about them” (Fran Stott) and in many of our mentees’ lives, that one person is YOU, their mentor.

Will they express it? Usually not, but please TRUST US when we tell you that your consistency, your prayers with, and for them, your willingness to reach out to just one person in the name of Jesus on a weekly basis is making a difference; and sometimes a difference for all eternity!

Please, do not give up.

Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Article by: Larry Raab