My Young Life leader from twenty-plus years ago called me last week and it made my day. No matter how old we get, we’d love to have a Young Life leader-type person pursuing us and helping us grow in Christ. The problem is that once you get out of high school, it can feel confusing as to where you find those people.
Below are five practical ways to move towards a mentoring relationship.
A NEW FAMILY
If you want mentors who are already living in Christ-centered community and submitting to pastoral authority, the best place to find that is your local church. But you’re not going to get to know folks by just showing up for an hour on Sundays. Get plugged in. Sign up for a membership class. Join a community group. Go on a mission trip. Find a place to serve. It will take time, but eventually, it will feel less like “going to church” and more like “being in a big family,” and the best mentors are people who feel like spiritual aunts and uncles. You can also find some of these folks serving on your Young Life committee!
CLARIFY BEFORE YOU IDENTIFY
In order to identify the best person to be your mentor, it’s helpful to clarify what you’re looking for. Do you want an older friend, a job coach, a Bible teacher, a prayer partner, a relationship counselor or something totally different? To help define your desire, answer this question:
“What area(s) of my life do I most want to grow in?”
When you know where you want to grow, you’ll be able to narrow down who can help you get there. For example, if you want help with your relationship with your boy/girlfriend, seek out someone who has the kind of marriage you would like to have someday. Don’t ask someone to give you a tour of a place they’ve never been.
FLIP THE SCRIPT
Most of the people you would want to mentor you likely already have full lives. Instead of asking them to drop everything to meet your needs, what if you flipped the script? If you want to spend time learning from someone, consider ways you could come alongside them in what they’re already doing. Join a ministry team they are already leading. Look for ways to serve them that could help free up some of their time. In turn, they might have more time to spend with you. It’s difficult for a person to turn down a “will you mentor me” request from a person who volunteers to mow their lawn, babysit their kids, or help them with sermon research. A teachable spirit is a mentor magnet.
TAKE A STEP
Before you ask someone to mentor you, get to know them. Go on some “first dates” before you enter into an “official relationship.” Instead of asking for a big commitment, start with a smaller step. Consider this request:
“Person’s name, I admire fill in the blank about you and would love to hear more about how the Lord grew that gift in you. Could we meet for coffee sometime?”
BE THE ONE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
If you’re leading Young Life, you likely are already pursuing mentoring relationships with someone younger. If you haven’t started a discipleship relationship with any students yet, ask your Area Director or Team Leader to help you take some steps towards that. The best way to grow in Christ is to give your life away. (Luke 9:24)
Written by Drew Hill.