The Beginning and End of Mentoring Teens

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Group of young people sitting at a cafe, top view

So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Genesis 12:4a

The Beginning

If you know anything about Abram and Lot’s relationship you have to admit it was pretty wild. At first encounter of the two together, the Bible tells us that Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.

Lot risks everything when he trusts Abram. The point few think about is that Lot doesn’t have to trust him. Abram’s choice to uproot the household and move them to a foreign land is dangerous. In those days, it was possible for one of the leading men of a household to kill another over putting the whole household in danger.  

So why does Lot trust Abram?

The story seems to open up one possible answer. The Hebrew text literally translates, Go Abram Yahweh Go Lot, which captures the sequence of events in the story perfectly. Abram trusts Yahweh and leaves; then Lot trusts Abram and leaves with him. Therefore, the possible answer is that Lot trusts Abram because Abram trusts the Lord.

You’ve probably experienced this same thing as a youth leader. You’ve had these wild ideas that don’t always make sense but teenagers trust you because they know you trust God. So they follow along behind you like a pupil learning from a mentor. And those relationships are wild and full of adventure and life. As youth leaders, we live for those mentor relationships with young people.

The End

The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Genesis 13:11b-12

Abram and Lot travel many miles together from Haran, somewhere in the northern part of modern-day Syria; to Canaan, southern part of modern-day Israel; and then to Egypt and back to Canaan. They accumulate a large amount of possessions along the way. But at one point they realize they need to part ways.

The realization comes when they experience a lack of resources to sustain their households and hostility brakes out among their herdsmen. Yet in the midst of such circumstances, Abram does not turn inward and fight against Lot or simply settle for the bad circumstances. Rather, he turns to Lot and suggests ending their journey for the well-being of both of them.

It is hard to find a person you can trust and share your life with. It is even harder to say goodbye to that person. And I think that knowledge makes it even harder for a youth leader to admit that it’s time. Yet, as a mentor, you need to realize that you are not called to travel with your students forever. And that parting doesn’t just happen when they matriculate. No, the mentoring of a person happens until the relationship is no longer needed. Sometimes that is realized when you’re faced with a circumstance that could damage the relationship. In those moments, it is best to turn to the person and suggest that the end has come.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for leading me and allowing me to lead others. May your Spirit guide my discernment in those relationships with teenagers. When the time to part ways comes, may I have the grace to admit it. And through it all, may you lead us deeper into the love of the Father. Amen

Image attribution: Tijana87 / Thinkstock

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Paul serves the Lord as the Youth Pastor at UMC of Macedonia. He lives in Macedonia, OH with his wife Sarah Joy and their two adorable boys, Nathaniel Micah and Zachary Isaac. His main interest is to explore the formation and transformation of people into Christ-likeness. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSheneman or read more of his ramblings at www.discipleshipremix.com

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