General Mentoring Helps

Mentoring Insecurities

Tell me you are stellar at mentoring; that all of your encounters with the person you invest in are producing amazing results.

I wish that were true. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great milestones to celebrate in mentoring! I’ve invested in many young warrior men who struggled in one form or fashion. Often their emerging manhood takes some rough rapids as they navigate from being a boy to an adult.  Some crash and need help to put the pieces back together again.  Others, think they can handle life with little help from you. They play the mentoring game for a short while, suck some life out of you, and then disappear to do their own thing. Others, hang around, seeing the value of having an older guy speak truth and wisdom into their life. 

Staring at the Ceiling

There are nights I awake, my heart concerned for a young man I’m mentoring. Whether it’s a self-management issue they struggle with that could cost them their job, or a relationship battle where going too far with a girl sexually has increased tensions. Or, it could be a struggle with an addictive behavior. “Did anything I said help? God, their life is in your hands. I am here for them, but help has to be wanted before it can be received.”

Victories in the Long-Term

One of the most common struggles young warrior men face is with their core identity. What does it mean to be a man?  More specifically, a man after God’s heart?  Behavior-wise, pornography often plays a menacing role. Yes, porn of any kind is a sin. It’s a behavior sin that points to a heart condition that needs the redemptive work of Christ. Discussions usually focus beyond the actions to the wound in the young man’s heart that triggered the entire foray. 

There are weeks, seasons in mentoring where the battles are intense. Spiritual warfare waging for the young man’s soul. Will he surrender the heart issues to the Lord, or will he keep playing the sword dance with the enemy?  And, I’m referring not just to the porn battle, but to anything that grips a young man’s soul.

At first, there is a small win. Then, a setback or two. Discouragement. More dialogue about the heart. More prayer. More championing. More wins. His self-identity taking on more of who God says he is. A few more victories. Fewer setbacks. Then, using the porn struggle as an example, the young man can’t remember that last time he looked. His heart is changing and his body begins to function in healthier ways.

No Caped Super Hero

One of the greatest insecurities in being a mentor, in particular to warrior-aged men, is the age-old question “Have I done enough?”  Truth is, you will never truly know. Sure, long-term you will see the fruit of their lives (or lack thereof).  But, that fruit is not your responsibility. It’s wholly theirs.  Scripture teaches in Romans 14 that each of us will give an account of our lives before the Lord.  How a young man turns out is on his shoulders, not yours. The question, “Have I done enough?” needs to be weighed in the context of three unhealthy mentoring patterns.

Hovering

In a previous Mentoring Warriors’ post, we talked about three unhealthy things to avoid in mentoring.

Hovering is when as the mentor, I need to know every single thing the young warrior is doing. As if I need to be there to keep him from falling. Or, that I need to know his whereabouts 24/7.  Aside from some extenuating circumstances, if you lie awake at night worrying about your warrior, where he is, what’s he’s doing, wanting to keep him out of harm’s way, you are showing your own insecurities more than being a true mentor to him.

Part of maturing is being allowed to make decisions and choices along the way that ends up being a disaster. Like when Dylan bought a junker of a truck despite the advice several of us offered. Or, when John decided he could handle drinking with the boys; the worst hangover he ever had. I’m not saying every warrior needs to go through such, but part of becoming a mature, godly man, is figuring life out. A mentor becomes a sounding board.

Enabling

This is a cousin to hovering. Asher is broke. He needs cash to buy food. Helping out once might be okay, but when it becomes a repeat request, Venmo-ing him funds all the time is not teaching him financial management. There are better ways to help a warrior out without funding the problem.

Rescuing

Unless your warrior is in an accident and needs help at the Emergency Department, rescuing is a bad idea. I know it sounds gracious and Jesus-like to take the hit for him, but sometimes, the best thing a mentor can do is let the warrior struggle. Owning the problem can be an invaluable lesson.

My Mentoring Insecurities

My mentor-less warrior years produced in me an ache to come alongside young guys who are trying to figure life out. Deep down, I want the absolute best for them. Many are like sons to me. I see potential in them. I believe in them. I speak life into them because that is what was lacking in my warrior years. My insecurities rise when I realize “they don’t need me anymore”. I am not interested in co-dependent relationships.  Instead, mentoring is a healthy release of them into young adulthood. It’s done with a level of nurture, admonishment, and exhortation, all rooted in Christ-centered love. In fact, the less dependent they become, making wise, godly decisions increasingly on their own is actually a sign of healthy mentoring!

Handling Insecurities

When I feel the insecurities rise in me, I bring them to the Lord. 

“Jesus, you know (name of the young man), I have invested in. You know my deep, godly love for him; how I’d take him as a son any day. You know the countless hours we’ve spent together, the long discussions, the adventures, the fights over sin, and the victories celebrated!  You know it’s designed into the core of every guy to leave his parents (and mentors) and become his own man, his own identity.  Let eternity show that even if my mentoring of him was for a short season, that the fruit is up to you. One of us can plant Gospel seed, another can water, but you, God, are the one causing the growth. My emotions at times bring tears when I consider the awesome potential these warriors have! Oh, to have had older men speak into my life when I was their age.  Thank you for allowing me to speak your Word, your truth into their lives.”

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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