Helping Teens Through Life
To guide, to encourage, and to show genuine interest in a teenager is definitely a ministry from the heart. Helping a young person during this critical time of life is both challenging and rewarding.
Teenagers experience huge challenges as they develop physically, in personality, and also in appearance. If that isn’t enough, there is peer pressure too, bouncing them between rejection and affirmation. Young girls in particular struggle to blend in with the fashion-setters, who are always changing.
They are vulnerable and can go from elation to depression at any given moment. Mom worries too about friendships they are developing, but at times, mom’s opinion is not appreciated. This is why a godly mentor can have valuable input in a quiet, caring way. I speak from experience in this.
For years I delighted in watching godly, caring ladies take an interest in my daughters as they grew into young ladies. Not only did these ladies assure us they were praying for my girls, but they took an active, personal role in their lives. They personified the older woman in Titus 2:2-5 as they taught my girls many things and reinforced the values they were learning at home.
My daughters grew up knowing that not only did their family love and care about them, but other women were interested in spending time with them and hearing about their lives. Each of these ladies who were there for my girls had different personalities and different approaches, but each of them left my girls feeling cherished and special!
Following their example
Now that my girls are grown and I recall how the ladies were involved in their lives, I appreciate their service for the Lord and am challenged to find creative ways to be involved in the lives of girls I am in contact with. One lady anonymously gave each of my girls a gift of clothing on their birthdays one year (with a sales slip so they could exchange it if they wished). How exciting it was for a young teen to know someone cared and was mysteriously showing it!
Ways to get involved
When my daughters expressed an interest in going on mission trips at different times, several ladies not only gave gifts and prayed for them, but wrote to them regularly and made a point of keeping in touch and asking about their experiences when they returned. One lady bravely spent three hours one Saturday morning just letting our then 16 year old drive around when she was first learning to drive. My other daughter was blessed to know a lady who would let her drive home from AWANA in order to get in more practice time!
There are ladies who took them shopping and out to lunch for one on one time. One lady was 40 years older than my daughters, but she was full of surprises and they loved spending time with her. She spent one afternoon going to craft stores with one daughter until they found a store that wanted to buy her handcrafted note cards to sell. Other ladies helped them develop their interests in photography, piano playing and scrap booking. They opened their homes and taught them new skills.
One retired missionary lady kept up a correspondence with one daughter for years after she had asked for information on Japan for a school project.
Adding new experiences
It amazes me that the Lord laid it on the hearts of these women to be actively involved in my daughters’ lives. Not only did they back up what we (their parents) were trying to teach them, but they added experiences and dimensions that we were not able too.
Not all mentoring was done one on one. One lady gave up her Saturday afternoons when she heard that my daughter and her girlfriend were interested in studying women of the Bible. Another lady let both girls choose a friend and she took the four of them to an amusement park. This lady was not a fan of rides, but sat and read while the four girls had a great time.
Our chapel once had a ladies tea where each person was encouraged to put a name in a hat and whoever’s name you picked, you were responsible to plan an activity for that person. One creative lady took one girl to a bridal show. Not many 15 year olds go to bridal shows, but they both had a lot of fun!
Getting involved in the lives of teens
As a mother, I thank the Lord for each one of these ladies who spent time, money and energy investing in my daughters’ lives. They will never know how much I value the love they showed, or how much I appreciate it when they reassured me they were still praying for my daughters.
It also challenges me to get involved in other young girls’ lives. As older women we may look at the younger ones and be afraid of rejection if we try and interact with them. But we need to look past our feelings and take that risk. We need to ask the Lord to show us who needs our love and our ‘mothering’. Start praying specifically for a girl you are burdened for and see if the Lord doesn’t open up ways for you to show her your love and concern.
Why mentor a teen?
And why should we invest in a young person’s life? First of all, I believe we are told to in Titus where the older woman is instructed to teach the younger one. The Christian woman has many lessons the Lord has taught her that she may find opportunity to share with a younger lady. This does not happen overnight, but a trusting relationship can be gradually developed over hours spent doing fun things or even drinking hot chocolate together.
We each have young ladies in our lives, who could benefit from us kindly spending time with them and taking an interest in their lives. We also get the satisfaction of knowing we have helped someone else develop and maybe understand the Lord’s plan for her life a little better.
The snowball effect
Mentoring also has a snowball effect. Each time I see my daughters involve themselves in a young girl’s life, I wish all those ladies could see that their time was NOT wasted! My girls now have younger girls over to teach them to bake bread, make cards or go out for ice cream. They have learned to imitate the teaching and thoughtfulness that was shown to them.
We may never see all the benefits of unselfishly spending time showing our love and concern for younger girls, but the Lord sees and He will give us the wisdom, patience and perseverance to involve ourselves with those He brings into our lives.
Note from assemblyHUB: Susan and her daughter Jessica have both written excellent articles on the topic of mentoring. We would gladly welcome any of our male readers to write a similar article about mentoring or discipling young men in order to give the male perspective. If the Lord is leading you to write on this subject and you have been on either end of a mentoring relationship, please submit an article. We’d love to hear about it!