I am sure most of us have heard the words of 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”, but so often it feels like there is a disconnect between Scripture and tangible, real-life problems. What does the Bible say about a child skipping class? What about the little girl who has become promiscuous after suffering years of abuse? Or the young man who is in juvenile detention for being unable to control his fists? There are many problems that arise in the lives of the children in our program that cannot be found via a topical search of God’s Word. The good news is that the Bible wasn’t written to be used as a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia! It is first and foremost a story about God and His love for people. The narrative of the whole Book is one of redemption and restoration, which allows it to speak into every situation our protégés may face. When we try to pull out a specific topic, but discard the whole of God’s Word, the message may feel insufficient for what we need. And chances are high that it will be rejected when delivered. God designed every verse and story to be used in the context of His entire Word.
An example of how this plays out practically as a mentor: Your protégé has been caught doing drugs, and their mom wants you to talk to them about the situation. Approaching the child, it is easy to come armed with passages about their body being created by the Lord (Genesis 1, Psalm 100:3, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and called to be used for His glory (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 John 2:15-17). None of those above Scriptures are inappropriate to be used. However, without the whole of the Bible, they will fall on deaf ears or be used to encourage behavioral modification. The problem with your protégé is a lot more severe than them doing drugs, so starting at that point simply addresses the surface level. There is a deep brokenness inside them (and us all) that is driving that desire to do drugs; it is called sin. Since that is a word that we’ve all probably heard every Sunday for many years, let me bring some depth to its relevance in this circumstance. Sin depicts a separation from God and encompasses all the horrific actions AND good things we do to try to earn our way back to Him. Without being connected to God, it wouldn’t matter if your protégé was giving out lollipops to homeless children or selling drugs- both are devoid of Him. When we are able to start at ground zero with our protégés, we are able to focus on the heart, the real issues at hand, and a need for grace. This approach also levels the playing field between us: we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior! There is no preaching at your protégé, but rather a sharing what you’ve already partaken in through Christ’s death. So, even if the mom might have placed the burden on your shoulders to ‘fix her child,’ just remember that that isn’t a burden you can or should bear!
When I look at Christ’s approach with the lost and broken, His method of operation was primarily through question asking (Jn 5:6, Lk 8:30, Jn 21:16, Mt 16:15). This revealed to the person answering the question what He already knew was in their hearts. Learning to grow in asking good questions is a recommended skill for a mentor. A good question is one that originates from seeing into someone’s heart, but instead of calling out that sin, it walks with them into gently discovering their need for God to help them in that area. So, a few examples of questions to ask the drug-doing teenager could be: “What was going on in your heart when you decided to try drugs for the first time?”, “What were you hoping to gain by experimenting with these drugs?”, “What do you feel like your life is lacking that can be met by drugs?”, etc. Depending on their answers, you are now facing the root issues that are driving their actions: peer pressure/fear of man, greed, laziness, the idol of pleasure/comfort, etc. The Bible has much to say about each of these through all of its pages! And the glorious thing of addressing the deeper, heart-issues are that each of these is easily tied into the Gospel. Look at the Proverbs (Wisdom), the Psalms (Refuge), or Ecclesiastes (Purpose). Christ is the fulfillment and point of all those passages! Talking through looking for wisdom on the streets instead of Christ, seeking refuge in a substance or group of peers, or trying to find fulfillment apart from the One who made us are all great lead-ins to the Gospel. Learning to see the bigger, deeper picture is a skill, but it definitely can be learned through studying His Word and practicing questions that root from it.
Christina Hickman, Relationship Coordinator