It’s Not About You

Editor’s Note: An incomplete version of this article was published here on April 2, 2018. The full article was published on April 10, 2018.

Don, a jovial man in his 50s, called me to announce, “I quit.” As a congregational mentor, his frustration with the 14-year-old youth with whom he was paired had reached a tipping point. “He shows up late to our meetings, grunts in response to my questions, and doesn’t respect me,” Don complained.

In my role as mentoring coordinator, I verbally released Don from his obligations, but inside I was seething. It was Don who needed a serious attitude adjustment. I wish I would have said to him, “Guess what, Don, mentoring is not about you. It’s about going the second mile, it’s about being present for the quirky, and supporting the sometimes raunchy.” I was especially disappointed because this young man, already considered an “at-risk” kid, now had one more adult who appeared not to care about him.

Mentoring is not all warm fuzzies. It might be heartwarming, but it may be gut wrenching and tearful. It is frustrating when a youth acts as though he or she is not invested in the relationship. However, as adults who have consented to walk alongside youth, we are covenanting to be their companion and support. We are not their parents, but that does not guard us from feeling strong connection and sadness when wrong decisions are made. Continue reading