As I write this, we are in the midst of a week of Growing Young focus groups. One of the things that struck me in the first focus group was their impact of mentors on the lives of some of our current parents when they were teenagers. Many of these were informal relationships, not necessarily even things that the teenagers at the time would have been able to identify as particularly significant. However, looking back, they recognized that these people had a significant impact on them personally and in their faith. This lines up with the release this week of a video by a movement called Here2Stay (which reflects on the factors that often lead to people remaining connected to church and faith) about the importance of mentoring. It includes a powerful story of the importance of someone coming alongside a young girl who later went on to do that for others. Then, this morning, as I began reading Titus in my Bible reading, I was reflecting on the mentoring relationship of Paul with Titus (and many others).
My own story has a whole range of people who have invested in me deeply, including, and especially, in my teenage years. Many of these people are still present in my life to this day: youth group leaders, camp leaders, Christian parents of my friends, older siblings of friends, school teachers, ‘grandparent’ figures in my church community, SU staff workers, ministers and plenty more – people who made themselves available and who God has used in powerful ways to point me to Him and to shape me into the person that He has for me to be. As I was going through stuff in my recent move, I came across a pile of prayer letters that one youth group leader, an older sibling of one of my friends, had included me in. As her first teaching job out of uni, she had moved to country NSW to teach in a boarding school. She had a group of people around her supporting her in prayer as she did that and included a couple of us teenagers in the group. God was teaching her lots about prayer and she wrote about that, as well as what God was doing in those she was ministering to there. Those letters, together with lots of other aspects of her presence and shaping, formed me deeply and still impact me to this day.
How about you? What are your stories of how God has used other people to point you to Him and to shape you in being the person He has for you to be? Who are you looking to be present for and invest in? How are you ensuring that you are pointing them to Jesus (not just yourself or encouraging them in the tendency of us all to put ourselves in the centre), and that you are working with God for them to become the people God has for them to be?