Encouraging Mentoring Relationships
by Chris Sasser
As a parent, there are a lot of things that I have encouraged my kids towards over the years. It started with encouraging them to take their first steps, eat their food, and maybe actually go to sleep for a period of time. As they grew a little older, I would encourage them to do their homework, get involved with sports, and make good choices. Over the years, the encouragements became more passionate because I knew that the results of them ignoring my encouragements had greater consequences.
As I watched my kids move into their teenage years, I knew that they were asking a lot of really important questions, both outwardly and inwardly. They were encountering the world in a new and different way, and they were trying to figure a lot of things out. My wife and I were teaching and leading them as best we could, but we started to encourage our kids in a different way. We encouraged them to build relationships with other adults, primarily from our church, who we knew would be saying the same things we were saying and leading in the same direction we were leading. These mentors proved to be invaluable as our teenagers navigated difficult relationships, disappointments, and a chaotic world.
In a world filled with conflicting messages and social pressure that can crush them, having mentors who live out their faith can be a powerful influence on teenagers. These mentors become role models, demonstrating how to integrate Christian beliefs into everyday decisions and actions.
The mentors that our teens had helped to teach them how to study the Bible, how to care for the poor and serve in the community, and how to build Godly relationships in their lives. All these things were both taught and modeled by people we trusted to influence our teens. By witnessing the authentic faith of a mentor, teenagers are inspired to develop a deeper, more personal relationship with God, fostering spiritual growth that extends beyond the confines of our homes.
As parents, we knew that we had to release our kids to other people. We were continuing to lead and influence as best we could, but we knew that our teens needed more. They were asserting their independence, and they needed to figure some things out on their own. Little did they know that we were still having an influence; it was just through the voices of others. We stayed close to these mentors and had conversations about the dreams we had for our kids. These mentors always kept us in the loop in appropriate ways and without violating the confidence of our kids.
I would encourage you to embrace the guidance of mentors. Pray that God would place the right people in the lives of your teenagers as they move through adolescence. Build relationships with people, hopefully at your church, who can speak into the lives of your children. Encourage your teens to be active in your church and youth group and to be proactive in building relationships with the leaders. We all need people who are ahead of us in life and faith to support and encourage us along the way, and the sooner our kids learn and embrace this truth, the better off they will be.