For the second summer since she d started mentoring, her protege was headed to summer school. Summer school, again? Her mentor had given up every single one of her Tuesday nights to do homework with her throughout the school year, and the result was still F s in two classes and not passing any of her STAAR tests. A lot of feelings rushed through the mentor s heart and mind, mainly those that circle around frustration and discouragement.
What more can I do? How can I help any more than I am? Where do we go from here?
Maybe you ve been in that boat with your protege too: Sitting there on his report card is a big, fat F. Standing right in front of you is her teacher sharing how your protege was the one who d locked her out of the classroom. Over the phone his mom explains how he s been skipping class and now must go to truancy court. As she climbs in the car to hang out, you notice the black eye she d received from a fight at school. The situations can be varied and broad, but, as a mentor, the typical gut response is usually the same: focusing on the seen more than the unseen and hoping their performance in school (and in life) is one of success and without any unnecessary hiccups!
This response doesn t come from wrong motives. On the contrary, it s often driven by a heart of love and deep care. However, when a mentor begins to center their plans, attention, and efforts upon the external actions of their protege, the relationship begins to derail. Repeatedly throughout the Word of God, He can be heard proclaiming that He s after the heart. The heart is what matters most, not the exterior actions. (Proverbs 4:23) This is an extremely difficult truth for a human being to comprehend! Simply plucking all the fruit off a bad tree doesn t cure the tree of its problems. The root issue, the sinful heart, is what must be addressed. The character of a child must be the focus and emphasis in mentoring. Anything else will prove to be temporary.
Take the story of the mentor above. Yes, her protege ended up in summer school and close to repeating her grade in school, but what might be some of the deeper, unseen parts of that story? Her protege learning the value of working hard, patience, perseverance, growing in discipline, experiencing God s love week after week, deep conversations, and the list goes on. In turn, let us be men and women who seek to see the unseen, tackle the root issues, and love our proteges without our love being tied to their
-Christina Hickman, Relationship Coordinator