The Joy of Church Connection for Young Believers Day 3: Mentoring Your Younger Christian Friends
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV)
When I was younger, I heard the word “mentor” a lot in church, school, and even in casual conversations. I always thought you had to be pretty old to be a mentor; what could anyone learn from someone who isn’t married, doesn’t have a family, or isn’t a preacher or missionary? These things can all certainly help someone in mentoring another believer, but they are not a prerequisite. I’ve had many mentors along the way, and they’ve all been from different walks and stages of life.
I’ve heard messages and even podcasts on this topic, and I admit that some of them made me a bit nervous. Some speakers made it seem like a formal session where you have to ask someone to be your mentor. I’m not bashing that approach in any way, but it was something that felt too official and forced for my personality. I’m thankful that mentors in my life stepped in without my asking, and I learned a lesson in that as well. There’s no need to wait for someone to ask to be your mentor—in each case with my mentors, it was a natural progression of our friendship. They wouldn’t have been very effective mentors if we didn’t have a deep relationship to begin with.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own busy schedules and go through the motions when at church. We show up, we pay attention, and take in the messages, but we get caught up in our own personal schedules. I’m guilty of this, but it’s so important to pay attention to those around us and to think of the future of our churches. I don’t like to think of it, but the generation before us won’t be there forever; eventually I will be part of the “older generation” (which is slightly scary to think about). Also, to any of my older readers, I don’t find being old scary, but the thought of not having you all around is the scary part.
I think of spiritual mentors who have guided me in life, and how their habits of reading and praying have challenged me and deepened my relationship with Christ. I think of the generations coming after me as well, and I pray for the future of our local churches. As we think of future generations growing up and leading churches in worship, it should energize our hearts to mentor them and give them advice. What we teach children “will not depart” from them even when they have grown. Proverbs 22:6 is a powerful reminder that we should be careful to be role models and mentors to watching eyes around us.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to deter anyone from being a mentor, but it serves as a reminder to each of us how important the task is. As a younger girl, I was always watching those who were a little older than me. I paid attention to what they wore, the way they talked, and their actions. This is a reminder that there are often impressionable eyes watching how we speak, what we wear, and the everyday actions of our lives. This is a reminder that I often need—it’s our lives that these younger believers see. We don’t choose certain days of the week where we decide to clean up our act and be their mentor—it’s a full-time role for each of us.
As mentors, may we remember to point others to Christ and guide them by what’s found in the Word of God above all else. More important than their relationship with us is their relationship with Christ, and may we do all we can to deepen their bond with Him. I can get sucked into the trap of wanting to be liked rather than being the needed voice of reason, but may I remember that the souls I impact will one day enter into eternity. We read in 1 Corinthians 11 about being imitators of Christ; may we live by those words and imitate Him in our own lives. He is the ultimate example for us to imitate and pass on to others. I pray that each of us in a mentor role may pass along a love for Christ, instill habits like reading God’s Word and prayer, and may we encourage obedience to His will and the following of His precious Word.