I love discipleship. I couldn't imagine my life without the opportunity to mentor and invest in the lives of younger guys. Unfortunately, mentoring is not a smooth journey; there are ups and downs (seemingly more downs than ups) and it is chock full of frustration. However, I wouldn't change my experiences for anything.
I recently received one of the greatest compliments of my life: I was sitting at a baseball game with my girlfriend and one of the members of my small group, who also happens to be on the baseball team. Anyway, we were sitting there enjoying the Runnin' Bulldogs securing another victory and talking about various aspects of life, etc. Well, Adam would be leaving that day to prepare for surgery in Charlotte, so his mom was coming to help with all of that stuff; so when she got to the game, Adam brought her over to sit with us. We introduced ourselves and had some small pleasantries, etc.
After a little bit, Adam turned to me and asked, "David, don't you have class tonight?" I hesitated for a moment, then turned to him and said, "Yeah, I am skipping it to be here at the game." He said, "Oh ok." His mom laughed. Then she leaned forward and said, "Wait, you're Adam's mentor." I froze, I didn't know how to respond. I really want to be seen as a mentor to these guys, but recognize that for the most part, I am just one more voice in a sea of well-meaning peers. So to hear that I have been acknowledged as a mentor literally made my heart jump a little (ok so maybe a lot). I stuttered and said, "Yea-yeah if that's how he's referred to me." And then quickly added, "But I can assure you, I am usually much more responsible than to skip class."
I am huge proponent of different callings in life and the fact that we as the body of Christ are not called to the same groups or to make use of the same gifts. For this reason, I recognize that not everyone has the same passion to disciple young people like I do; however, I do think that it is important to share your experiences with those who are coming behind you. In fact, there are probably a number who are reading this post and thinking 'so a kid thinks of you as a mentor, big deal-who cares?' and that's a fair point, it is not an earth-shattering revelation.
I am just so thankful that God is allowing me to disciple people at all and to be as a good a witness for Him as I can. This was drilled into me (yet again) at last night's baseball game. The umpires were making some questionable calls (but when don't they?) and I was getting really frustrated-you see, I hate when I lose and so through the transitive process, I hate when teams I support lose; it's like I am losing. So I started to get angry and when I get angry I get really quiet and sort of shut down (a trait which I am really thankful for, it tends to keep me out of more trouble). Well, at one point, the entire crowd was yelling at the umpire and telling him how bad of a job he was doing; as I sat there, I realized how stupid I looked by allowing something so trivial as a baseball game to compromise my witness. So rather than join in the frustration, I started singing some hymns (hey don't judge, I love traditional hymns) and oddly enough I found so much peace in the lyrics of 'Be Thou My Vision' and 'I Love You, Lord'-it was so awesome. And even though we lost that game, I didn't get upset or angry. Totally a God-thing, cause on my own I would have probably yelled a lot at that umpire. But what kind of example would I set, if I reacted so rashly?
I apologize for the same theme that seems to pervade all of my writing, I just can't help where my heart is. All I know is that while I seek to impact the lives of these young people, more often than not they impact me so much more. One of the guys said something more profound than I think he even realized; it was almost an off hand comment and yet there was so much depth there. He said (in a paraphrase of sorts), 'even if there is no reciprocation, you still need to treat them the same way you always do.' Now I knew this, but to hear it so adamantly spoken really shook me to my core. There was no question in his mind that that was how he needed to treat people, regardless of they treated him. He continues to amaze me with his passion for God and his desire to live for Him. Sometimes, I think he understands it better than I do.
Kairos-moments that define and change us,
David A. Bell