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Teenagers struggling to find mentors

When our children were growing up, especially during their adolescence, Karen and i sensed that we needed help. Things were actually going well for us as parents. None of our five kids faced a crisis; we actually like each other; so why look for issues?   Having worked with young people fo…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
When our children were growing up, especially during their adolescence, Karen and i sensed that we needed help. Things were actually going well for us as parents. None of our five kids faced a crisis; we actually like each other; so why look for issues?
 
Having worked with young people for years, we sensed that our kids were going to need more than we could offer in the years ahead. They were going to need a safe place to talk about issues that might seem uncomfortable to discuss with a parent. They were going to need to begin forming their own opinions and to begin navigating the world on their own. And they were going to need encouragement and challenge from someone other than us.
 
So we looked around for friends who could meet with them, listen to them, and begin mentoring them. For example, Estie met with our friend Amie Bokelman. Amie was already a family friend that Estie trusted, but when she began getting together regularly with Estie, she started to dive into Estie’s life. I don’t know what they talked about all those times that they had coffee and talked, but now that Estie is 24, we’ve got a little perspective on the fruit it bore and we’re so thankful for Amie’s investment.
 
The world is a complicated place. So many friends of ours have felt helpless as the sweet little children they’d protected entered adolescence and soon thereafter began to struggle with titanic issues for which they were unprepared – stuff like alcoholism, depression and pregnancy. 
 
I was talking with a friend whose daughter is on the front side of that chaotic phase of life. He said, “I wish that one of your daughters would meet with my daughter.” As we talked about it, we realized that while almost all adolescents would really benefit from having a mentor or a discipler, few actually seek one. We threw around some ideas as to why.
  • Many of them are shy – they wouldn’t know how to ask someone older.
  • They’ve not seen a mentoring relationship modeled.
  • Even if they wanted to meet with someone, they may be clueless as to who to ask.
Some suggestions
If you’re a teenager – reach out. You would really benefit from guidance. Find someone who is not afraid to say hard things and ask them to talk to you about a specific issue over coffee. If it goes well, then ask them to meet with you again.
 
Other thoughts:
  • If you’re an adult and you’ve been mentored, you need to give back. Reach out and ask a young person out to lunch. Just spend time listening.
  • Parents, you may want to pray into this and ask a friend to consider meeting with your son or daughter.
  • Jesus commanded us to make disciples – this is an easy and rewarding way to do it.
  • You may want to get two or three young people together to start.

Comments (9)

  • Thank you, this is such a great blog Seth! Recently our Caleb who is a highschool freshmen now, filled out an application for a missions trip for our church and I was reading it after he submitted it. He had written down that he had three people who had mentored him, who were his former youth pastor, an Air Force cadet pilot, and your son Seth Jr. I was so thankful as I read about how they had influenced Caleb’s life and mentored him. My husband has also discipled Caleb consistently during these teen years, but I think it has also been imperative for Caleb to have other spiritual mentors. Now Caleb has started praying about mentoring someone who is in Jr. High and I really pray that he chooses to impact a younger teen during his highschool years. Our daughter Hannah now has someone who is a post-World Racer and who leads her in bible study and is mentoring her, loving her, and building into her. Andy and I are both trying to build into the lives of a number of teens through our church youth group. I think we have learned that mentoring does not have to fit a certain mold or look a certain way. It can be done over playing games, having coffee, or just reaching out in creative ways. I think it just takes willingness and availability from the mentor and the teen. I continue to desire what you mentioned in this blog and pray into it for my own kids that God will keep placing those precious mentors into their lives. I am so thankful that God has been so faithful to provide such God-loving mentors for our kids in the past. I anticipate that God will keep providing some great mentors in the future, as our kids journey through these teen years.

  • Seth, I wish our 19 year old son had had a mentor relationship growing up. He is a freshman in college and has not direction in his life. He is unsure what to major in because he has no clue what he wants to do in his life…Thank you for this blog! I believe it will help other young parents with the rearing of their children….!

  • Dear Daddy Seth,
    Thanks for this wonderful blog.My son is just now 5 months but I will remember this blog and I will be do according to your life.
    I will share with others about this.
    May God bless you and all your mission work.
    Emmanuel Sadiq.

  • **mArC** The Schifano Tribe

    This stuff is awesome for me to read. As I haven’t entered that phase of life yet with my sons, it is a great think to really focus on and keep on the radar for us. Thanks Seth.

  • Absolutely,thisn is the right issue ” Teenagers are really struggling to find mentors’.Teenage years is the most critical stage in the life’s stages.This is the time where individuals longs to be in a group, and to be with somebody who could understand them.Since they are in the middle stage, they are struggling much.They don’t want to be called as kids nor young children, yet the old people never gives them importance since most old people ignore them for they’re still young.Yet, they have the heart that beats and a heart to gets hurt…still needs somebody who could love and undestand them.
    In fact I am still a single,not even have single children, yet by experience for years(being a teenagers before) I learned lots of things with them.As a high school teacher by profession,my students tought me lots of lessons more than any experience.They’re really in a difficult and critical stage that if we’d fail to give attention or importance on them, that will be the greatest failure that damages their lives, hopes and dreams and even affects the next generation. More so, I learned lots as I worked with Kids and Young people as a youth pastor, before I served in overseas missions.I mentored several youths for years, since they were junior elementary graders,till they came to high school.I found out that they were secretive, yet they enjoyed much with your company when you know how to accpet them and understand them in every aspects of life.When we learn how to “put up our feet on their shoes”, i mean live as one of them, they’ll start to be open to you every secrets of their lives and that’s the beginning of transformation. The sad thing was, one of them got married early after her high school because no body monitored them well. I left my duties with another mentor,as I went to overseas missions, yet they kept on sending me comments that they’d never satisfied of the said mentor.The result, it affects their faith and they “stumbled” and some of them fall away to the worlds temptations. That was also my failure, as I lost one of my sheep along the way.I repented on it. Yet, by GOD’s grace, most of them they remain on FAITH as I always follow them up this days, even if I’m away with them.Praise God! Most of them had the passion doing evangelism works, kids outreach and even start to get involve in sunday school teaching.
    All I can say is “Young people must have the right person of GOD to be their mentor”.They’re struggling,so let’s help them carry their burdens and laid it down to JESUS because they’re young and they need us who are ahead of them in this journey with the LORD.

  • how about letting teens talk with the lord on their daily life concerns he is there 24-7-365, just have to ask, our free SPREAD THE WORD TALK WITH THE LORD program inspires this. teens could meet with 3-6 friends monthly for mutual inspirational. give them some rope, you will be pleasantly surprised, as we have heard. plus geo our cool fun song lyrics free just write g. hubbard p.o. box 2232 ponte vedra fl 32004 http://talkwiththelord.blogspot.com/

  • Mikel, Turning Winds

    I have never thought about this idea until you have mentioned and suggested it. Thank you! It all makes a lot of sense. Mentoring is indeed something that parents can consider for their children rather than being worried they’ll get in with the wrong crowd. Troubled teens nowadays usually has some history of bad company with bad habits…it’s where they learn stuff from: drugs, alcohol, pms and etc. When my 2 year old son grows up, I’ll definitely consider your suggestion. Thank you Seth!

  • This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in Youth Ministry, and the role of the Youth Leaders and adult volunteers in a young person’s life. I know there are those who prefer not to have their teenagers involved in youth ministry; and as a Youth Ministry educator, I am aware of current research that questions the effectiveness of some (not all) youth ministries. However, for the reasons you point out Seth, I believe a well-run youth ministry, with well trained leaders, can be an ideal place for a young person to be connected to a caring, responsible, Christian adult, who can help guide that teen, answer their questions, and facilitate their spiritual growth.

    I know there are a number of other viable ways a teen can be connected to a mentor — but youth ministry could (and should) be a place where that natural connection can begin. In a good (healthy) youth ministry, the walls have already begun to come down in the teens’ life, and the relationships have already been established. Throughout my 25 years of youth ministry, I have seen some amazing results in good volunteers helping to develop young people as strong, Godly leaders.

    Thanks for this post, Seth.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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