(just a few thoughts from a student ministry paper) Students are in need of someone in their life who is not a peer to help direct them to maturity. Because of abdicating parents and peer pressure, students are likely not getting clear direction from the home anymore. Parents are God's plan for developing students but with the decay of the family in today's culture, the church must respond. Mentoring is a missing link in many student ministries across the nation. Why is this important? Does the Bible actually speak on the need for a godly man or woman to help a younger person?
Paul was a prestigious Pharisee before his conversion and changed into the missionary that wrote a large portion of the New Testament. His missionary journeys and writings reached many people in the early church. Timothy comes into play as a young teenager who needed guidance in his life. Mentoring is defined as, “a lifelong relationship, in which a mentor helps a protégé’ reaches her or his God-given potential” (Biehl, 19).
Paul nurtured Timothy in setting an example of pouring Himself into Timothy and also encouraged him to walk worthy of the faith (2 Tim. 2). Paul’s reminder to Timothy of being a humble servant of God that does not quarrel but gently instructing people to see the truth of the Word and produce life-change (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Paul used his own experience to instruct, exhort, warn, rebuke, and convince Timothy to see that Jesus is the basis for life and ministry and that he would be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:10-17).
Students are looking for lasting relationships with an adult that is meaningful. Following this statement, students are seeking to have long-term relationships. Mentoring should be a long-term process that is built on Jesus’ example with the disciples.
Students are in need of a spiritual caregiver in their life. The goal of student ministry is not a list of things to do, but spiritual transformation through connecting with a person at the heart level and the Word of God. Larry Crabb explains it this way, “But the absolute center of what He does to help us change is to reveal Himself to us, to give us a taste of what he is really like, and to pour his life into us” (SoulTalk). Is there real connection in student ministry or is it just a program?
Many students have never experienced true community. Student ministry is in need of re-vamping from shallow entertainment into a fun, godly connection that draws them to Christ. A mentor wants to help the student realize their potential through a loving and encouraging relationship.
This process of sharing life together is an intentional decision of the adult to initiate the relationship with the student. By setting the example for the student by building a healthy relationship, life change will soon follow in their lives.
The core issues of personal emotions and psychological issues weigh heavily in effectively mentoring a student. Mentoring should not be thought of lightly, but a sincere desire to know the student and connect at the heart level. Paul and Timothy connected. Timothy was a young man wanting to serve God and Paul came alongside him and showed Him the way through the power of Christ.