Request: I really want to encourage those of you who have it in you to mentor young people–not just the ones that come to your church or show worldly potential and are on the right track. I’m talking about the ones who are visibly on the wrong track. The ones everybody can’t stand. The ones that get on everybody nerves. The ones that lie, cheat, steal, and disrespect folks. They need you.
The devil destroys children earlier and earlier. They are inundated with all the wrong messages then those messages are affirmed at home, school, and (increasingly) church (if they go). They need more than just money (though resources are important). They need a HOPE. They need a FUTURE. They need a mirror that can reflect back GREATNESS.
I go home tired–not because they turn up in my class; these kids KNOW NOT TO COME FOR ME. I go home tired because everyone of them wants a hug; everyone of them wants my attention and affection; everyone of them wants to hear me say “good job”; everyone of them wants a piece of MY peace. And I give it. Freely. Because God! What must it be like to have no one believe in you? Everybody believed in me. Everybody believes in my (birth) kids. I weep for the dry places in my students’ lives, where test scores and leaning to heavily on obscure skills rather than critical thinking and community engagement continue to snuff out their voices in the earth before they even discover what’s inside of them to cry aloud.
These dry bones can live though. God is waiting for more “Christians” to speak and tell them to “LIVE!”
Wealth, education, and access are all buildable commodities—if we choose to make them so. Generational wealth has to become more than just how much money or assets that we figure out how to sit on; “giving back” has to look like more than just throwing money and TEDTalk-esque speeches at kids during special assemblies. The big payback into the community and the culture has to evolve, and that evolution comes out of how you see you. The most valuable resource that today’s kids have is you. Not you coming by and flashing how you’ve made it, but the imparting of the wisdom of your experience in ways that bridge where you were to where you now are. You must be willing to become the new lens through which they view life’s possibilities, the portal through which they step to imagine how their current form can bring them into a new place even if they want still live and live in the neighborhoods from whence they’ve come. Mentorship has to stop being about “I made it” and more on the “I am becoming, and this is what becoming looked like for me and now I want to help you on the journey to becoming,too.”
So, if you’ve made it this far, I want to ask you again: will you consider mentoring a child? It will cost you a lot, I won’t lie. But what you’ll gain from it will be more than you could ever hope for. Mentoring will put you in a position to not just help a scholar, but it will also push you to help yourself. To help you redefine success. To help you evaluate what it means to give. To help you establish legacy in the earth that no one can destroy. To help you be and fully. Mentoring will force you to confront faulty belief systems and traumas that have cast shadows on your success. Like how we still glorify what whiteness has deemed good. And how we’ve decided certain types of blackness are unacceptable. And how we’ve forgotten how close we all are to death and destruction at the hands of a cruel, unjust system. And how we run from us to neighborhoods that don’t welcome us financially or culturally because the residue of shame at blackness and the weight of guilt for making it hurt. And how we buy into the stereotypes and bias about the very people who sacrificed for us to even get as far as we got. And how we try not to grapple with any of those things.
Lol. I’m probably discouraging from doing the very thing I asked you to do. But it’s because I believe in these kids and you to walk in the fullness of yourselves. Shalom is born out of the will to be fully integrated, fully invested in the person you were purposed to be. It takes iron to sharpen iron, and all I’m saying is that mentoring a child all the way through will be the thing that truly sharpens you.