Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teenagers part 3

This is the next (final?) installment on this little series on parenting teens. If there is a desire for discussion, please feel free to leave comments in the comments section and i'll do my best to facilitate it!
One the most humbling, difficult thing I've done for my teens is to prayerfully find mentors for each one. Each of the three mentors is in a different decade of her life - each has different strengths and opinions and life experiences... each was open to welcoming one of my girls into their lives and hearts in the midst of their neediness.
I've found that sometimes teens want or need to expand their circle of trust. I want them to be able to find safe places to grow. Sometimes teens will be tempted to unload to another vulnerable (young)  friend - rather than in a safe, stable place. I want to be intentional about facilitating relationships with adults who they can relate to - who will consistently point them back to Jesus... and hopefully to us (her parents) too.
I've spoken to these women about my girls too - I want them to understand that they're not stepping on my toes. I want them to know that I see my own brokenness and I want my kids to have support and love and good, godly women in their lives. I want them to know that I'm grateful for their input.
My prayer is that these mentors would give similar advice to me - & also that they would say things like, "hey... maybe you should talk to your mom or ask your dad___" I know that when I've been so blessed to have the opportunity to build into other younger women's lives, that's the kind of advice I've tried to give - as well as turning consistently and persistently to my Father's word.
I've asked one of my best friends, Fawne, to guest post this blog because she has a passion for women and relationship - and also has been a beautiful shining example of discipleship in our church and every circle that she has ever been a part of.
I hope you love her thoughts as much as I do!!

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The first mentor I remember in my life was a beautiful young woman (our pastor's wife) and I adored her. I was twelve when she came into my life and at the time I had never even heard the word mentor or discipleship and throughout the years she spoke truth into my life I didn't even realize I was being mentored. It wasn't until I was twenty-one and went away to a Bible college whose very core and foundation was discipleship relationships that I began to understand the importance and absolute need not only for being mentored but for mentoring as well. In fact, I learned that God's word does not suggest that we do this but actually commands it. Jesus' final words on earth were . . . "Go, and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19).

While I was at college I had a mentor who changed my entire worldview on discipleship and suddenly I knew that it was something I needed -- always and forever -- and I knew that if I needed it so badly that other young women would need it too. 

A discipleship relationship is not complicated, it's simple. It's one person helping another person to know Jesus better and to walk in light of the truth of God's word. Sometimes it's very practical . . . an older woman teaching a younger woman the tricks she's learned over the years in time management, childcare, and loving unconditionally, etc. Sometimes it's deeply personal and hopefully God's word is always central. 

That first mentor I was telling you about (our pastor's wife) left my life while I was still in my early teens and how I wish there had been another woman to take her place. I didn't know it yet while she was in my life but I was teetering on the brink of a tremendously painful season and as I look back on myself during those extremely difficult years my heart aches over my own loneliness, my need for someone to be there . . . speaking truth into me . . . my need for someone to listen. It's not that I didn't have great parents but a parent isn't a superstar and there's only so much they can do in each child's life. 

If you're a parent of teens I can't emphasize how important it is to have other godly women speaking into your daughters and other godly men speaking into your sons. Already I have begun to pray for God to raise up men and women who are strong in the faith to speak into my own children, especially as they hit those teen years. Don't be afraid to help direct your children (especially young teens) toward godly men and women although often enough I believe they're drawn toward people who love the Lord all on their own.

Is this risky? Yes. Yes. Yes. Your child will probably spill your dirty secrets and even if they don't their mentor will see things you would rather keep hidden but in reality (in most cases) your pride is the only thing that will receive a solid blow.

Could it go wrong? It could. You could end up with someone who uses what is shared against you and makes you the object of gossip and slander. It's possible. Not likely, but possible. It's a risk you have to be willing to take. When we obey God's commands there is risk involved . . . not a risk of losing our security and significance . . . because that is wrapped up in what God says about us and no one can ever take it away. But there is a risk of pain. Sometimes it hurts to obey God but in the long run it's never as painful as disobedience.

Although I have had some difficult circumstances come out of discipleship relationships the good that has come out of them far outweighs the negative. I echo what Ann Voskamp said on her blog today:

I am the woman who needs saving from herself again, again, everyday —  the dirty that needs to be wiped clean everyday, the hands that need a cross to wrap a life right around so she won’t get lost.

As a woman who is filthy, who needs constant saving, this is one of the tools that God has used mightily in my own life -- discipleship. Women who are wiser than me speaking truth, asking me questions that lead me to see my own wrong, helping me see my brokenness, and teaching me what it means to walk under the umbrella of God's ruthless love.

I dare not even begin to assume that I would be half the woman I am today without so many godly women in my life who were willing to pour time and energy and prayer and love into me. I am convinced that when Jesus commanded us to "make disciples" it's for a very good reason . . . we were not meant to go it alone. We need each other. 

Practical Tips For What Discipleship Looks Like:

1. Does it have to be face to face?  I'm a busy mom and I don't always have time to meet with someone for an hour so I do discipleship over facebook; some people do it via texting, others by phone

2. What do you do during discipleship? My favorite way -- which I learned from my mentor -- is to allow the person I'm mentoring to talk about whatever is going on in their heart and life . . . their struggles, fears, what they're thinking about, questions they have about God or His word, etc. and then to bring truth into that situation using God's word as the foundation. Ask lots of questions.

3. How long is discipleship and how frequent? It can be however long you want. Ten minutes. An hour. However long you need it to be to talk about what you need to talk about. You may have to set a time limit though. I like to "meet" once a week but again, there are no set rules.

4. What if I try it and it doesn't go well? It happens. I've had it happen in my own life. Don't force it. Some mentor relationships were not meant to be. If either of you feels that it's not going well than you are free to walk away at any time. It's not a contract. Don't be too quick to walk away though, sometimes it just needs a bit of time. Both of you are learning. But if it's not going well don't be afraid to be honest about it and to ask someone else or as the mentor to quit mentoring that person. My discipler use to say that if the person she was mentoring was only in the mentor relationship because she wanted to be a "good" girl but wasn't serious about learning that she would say, "We're done for now. If you ever change your mind and want to get serious about following Jesus than I will be here for you." Don't feel as though you have to continue mentoring someone who doesn't want to learn, being mindful that some people take time to soften. 







2 comments:

Marcy P said...

Paige, this is so important!! I didn't have kids for a long time and decided to have spiritual babies ;-) I intentionally took teenagers and mentored them. It's true (and now horrifying) that your worst secrets (as a parent) will come out and those mentors will have to deal with that info about you. As a pastor's wife I now find this extremely humbling. Yet I want my kids, so badly, to have those mentors when they get to those years. It's so terribly important to BE that godly mentor to other teens too. Thank-you for reminding me. I have been burdened to be that for a couple of gals around here. It takes such work and patience, but it's worth it. Some of my best friends are those I have mentored.

Sara L said...

This is so beautiful! I hope and pray my kids can have something like this someday :)

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