Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mentoring Youth

I had a great conversation with a young person that reads my blog.  She indicated that she felt as though their was a discrepancy between my posts "Colonizing of Youth Culture and Why it Doesn't Work" and "Sexuality and Youth".  I appreciated the feedback.  It was good to know that someone reads this stuff.  I took some time to really weigh out what she told me.  She liked the point of the Colonizing post about being respect of differences people have and not forcing them into a mold that we want them to fit into.  The issue in the sexuality post was a reference I made that youth need strong mentoring.  Is mentoring a fancy word for colonizing.  That I would use my influence over someone to force them into following the things that I believe about the world and about God?  If thats not the case then what is mentoring?

I have been a youth worker for over 15 years and throughout that time I have talked with thousands of young people about a huge variety of topics.  Sometimes it is serious stuff, other times it is not.  However just because we talk about stuff does not give me the right to serve as a mentor.  Mentoring is something that happens when the conversation turns into a very pointed observation or response to and individual question.  I see mentoring as an opportunity to give someone that is close to me another option to consider.  This is not about forcing their beliefs or actions.  I am powerless to do that.  True mentoring works best when the friendship is not affected.  If I mentor someone on how to find a job and yet they choose not to take my advice that is their choice and I will not be hurt or offended by it.  That doesn't mean that I agree or approve of their choice, but I still consider the person close to me and would help them through other situations if the opportunity arose and it was appropriate.

I also want to present a point of view that may be foreign to them because it is likely that they may have never heard the stance I take in a particular situation.  I happen to think that there are some things that I have learned about life that can be helpful to others.  This may be about building resumes all the way to thoughts on God.  I hope that begins to heal the gap between these posts, but I would love to hear your take on what mentoring youth is all about.
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