For me, mentoring started at home. It was a lifestyle of pouring into the three lives that were always with me. If I was working in the yard, they were there. If I was cleaning the house, they were given tasks to help. Many hours of directing plays, skits, musicals, human videos, etc., for church or school, they were at my side........or playing in the prop room! But part of my mentoring style has always been to lead by example. To just do life together while mental notes were being made.
Life in our family has shifted. My 'kids' are now adults stepping into their own destinies. I can remember many times in their youth I had the thought,"They should be getting this by now!" Sometimes I wanted to quit.....to just throw in the towel and say, "I GIVE UP!" Yet, as I sit back and watch each of them in their different lives, I am starting to see -- THEY GOT IT!! The impressions made on their young minds, gave lasting prints that are coming out in new ways to effect a new generation.
Recently, I have witnessed my youngest son lead by example in his AGM position at work. Most of the staff under him are youth from broken homes who have no one at home to believe in them. He has taken the things he learned at home about how to speak to others with respect and he is teaching the youth under him those same skills. He got it! Last month on his birthday, he received a text from his brother that meant so much to him. As he shared the text with me, I read words that were a reflection of the teaching of affirmation which had been the focus in our home. He got it! A friend of my oldest son just shared with me how often he would find notes of encouragement at work that were left by my son. It was always just what he needed to hear from God. He got it!
Last week, my daughter shared with us a story about an event with her oldest son. He is one who has a tender heart and just a raised voice can bring him to tears. Not wanting to crush his spirit yet needing to deal with the issue at hand, God gave them a creative method. They created a comfortable time out chair. After giving him alone time in the chair, they took time to talk things through with him about his actions. Then they had him turn to a mirror that was placed behind his chair and speak affirmations over himself. They had listened for the Spirit's voice for a way to teach this tender little one and He gave them the idea. It had been another reflection from years of watching her dad listen first to the Spirit before taking action when she was little. She got it!
What a powerful picture of our loving Father! He loves us enough to discipline us. He takes us aside and deals with each of us in a unique and individual way. Then He opens His loving arms to bring comfort to us and speak His love over us. We see examples of this in scripture each time someone came to him with a repentant heart. He spoke truth to them and loved them through their issues until they caught the teaching and were able to live it out.
Matthew 18:3 records Christ's view,
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Too often we adults make it more complicated that what it has to be. Yet if we look at the little children, we can see an example of the simplicity of God's love for us. Their lives are like wet cement. One harsh word or action can leave a mark that is felt into their adult years. Yet the most powerful part is watching how words of encouragement can literally propel them into the man or woman they are to become. They take things at face value. No reading between the lines. No subterfuge. Just real. Honest. Raw feelings about what they are walking through. And they respond to our show of love.
While ministering in the children's church a few years ago, God gave me creative ideas to the same principles we practiced at home. After our lessons, we often took time to 'practice' what we learned. I would give them scenario's and ask them what would be the correct response from the lesson we had just learned. Many times we would end up in groups to pray for each other and speak affirmations to each other. It was really eye opening when siblings would be grouped together and would speak an affirmation to each other. The best part is that even now, four years later, I often see pictures of sticky notes posted from parents or grandparents. The notes are affirmations left from those same kids who learned how to speak affirming words to each other in kids' church. THEY GOT IT!!
Mentoring is the same for us at any age. Like parents, there will be times disciple or correction is needed. Yet as we follow Christ's example, we can learn to use our words as tools to help shape others into the man or woman God has created them to be. Affirmations of the good help to soften the wounds from discipline and help bring a healing maturity in their lives. Words make lasting impression and will have a ripple effect. At times we might feel as if those words are falling on deaf ears, but if we continue to lean into the Spirit's voice for instruction, He will teach us what to say. And one day we will see the fruit of our labor of love and be able to say, "THEY GOT IT!!"
Christ didn't give up on us. Still hasn't given up no matter if at times He wants to. Let's lean into Him, learn from His example and keeping believing in each other. Until.......THEY GET IT!!