Young Life’s Heartbeat: The Left Of The Line

November 11, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Jon Houghton, Associate Regional Director of Central Indiana. 

The vast majority of mentoring programs or discipleship
program focus their attention to the right of the threshold line. Most programs
ask kids or people to opt in, which inherently means they have a desire to
succeed. The number of people willing to ‘mentor’ or ‘disciple’ kids increases
exponentially as you move to the right.

Young Life’s heart beats for kids left of that line.

There is a scarcity of people willing to do the work on the
left side of the line. Left of the line requires patience, courage, time,
willingness to ‘fail’ often. Young Life leaders must live on the left side of
the threshold line. There is a relative abundance of people willing to invest
in those who want to be invested in.

Due to the scarcity of people left of the line; YL leaders
and staff should spend the majority of their time with kids left of the line.
People who have reached independence in their walk with Christ should come back
and join us on the left side.

I believe that mentoring programs that live on the right
side of the line provide value in the Kingdom. Most of them  exist for ‘at risk’ kids, but every mentoring
program that I am aware of (especially in urban settings) involve kids choosing
to opt in. The most ‘at risk’ kids’ do not have a desire to succeed in life and
therefore will never choose to opt in to these programs. Cycles are not broken
if we only work with people who opt in.

I recently heard a national columnist give a speech
encouraging kids to “show people you are worth being invested in.” I understand
the point she was making, however our role is to help kids believe that they
are worthy of being invested in before they believe it themselves.

When Jesus was questioned about who he was spending time
with he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, I have not
come for the righteous but for the sinners…” This is who we must spend time

Luke 15 tells a story about a shepherd who leaves the 99 to
go and find the one lost sheep. This is what we must do.

There is an important role for people on the right of the
line. It just isn’t our role.

Young Life leaders must resist the temptation to do the
relatively easy work and live into our unique role in Kingdom work.

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