Monday, February 7, 2011

Mentor Bites: It Means Be Present, Listen, and Care

When I think about what it means to be a mentor for a young person, I cannot help but think about the times that I experienced good mentors when I was growing up in the church. One of the best mentors I ever had was the pastor who confirmed me. Pastor John was perhaps the most patient man on the face of this planet. The year I was confirmed in my small congregation, there was only one other youth in the confirmation class. And so, Pastor John (who must have been about sixty years old) found himself trying to teach two thirteen year old girls about grace through a Wesleyan lens and our United Methodist roots. Needless to say, he saw a lot of our distractions play out. One particular day I remember, when the other student and I (who were also very good friends) had come to his office following a bad day at school. The very popular crowd in our class (which, if you know anything about seventh grade means that they ruled our everyday lives) had decided to ostracize both of us. It is all we wanted to talk about. It is all we cared about. Pastor John had a day of talking about “the book” as he called it. He wanted to talk about the Biblical story as it related to our present day…or something like that. I really don’t remember anymore what he really had planned for that day. John showed me that day that some adults really do care what was happening in the hallways at middle school. He showed me that plans could change if they needed to, so that our voices could be heard and valued.

Sometimes being a mentor means that you simply just listen. It means that you are present with the young person. It means that you help them understand their worth and value in the eyes of God. It was a few years later that I visited Pastor John when he was very sick and facing the end of his life here on Earth. We talked about that day in confirmation class. I thanked him for being such a wonderful mentor. And he offered me his entire library, which now sits on many bookshelves around me. Each time I open one of his books to read for school or to help on a sermon writing adventure, I am reminded that sometimes being a “pastor” means I need to put the book down and listen. May you find ways to listen as a mentor and may God bless our important work of being with young people!

by Emily Carroll
youTheology Mentor Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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