Larry the MentorPosted: March 11, 2013
Early in my Junior High years, this guy in my small community rented out the attic of an old office building in town. It was a Friday night and he invited any junior high kid from the community to come and hang out–no cost unless you wanted to buy a can of pop or a candy bar pretty much at cost. On Saturday nights, he invited the high schoolers to come out. I remember a few friends hanging out at the bottom of the steps that first night it was open. No one was sure about going in. Finally, I took the lead and ascended the steps. There was music, games, televisions, and a pool table. There was likely some shag carpet in a variety of colors and textures and a room full of mismatched furniture. And there were a few adults, one of them was Larry.
I knew of Larry before that night–he and his wife graduated with my older brother and sister and he worked on the county road crew with my dad. Over the next six years, Larry would become a significant man in my life and in the life of many other youth from our community. He became my mentor and was intentional about pouring into my life in a variety of ways. He mentored my in relationships with others. He allowed me to help him out in various ways so that I could fail as well as succeed. Most of all, Larry mentored me in my faith. He led Bible studies in his home, took kids to hear speakers (Carman comes to mind) and a couple of trips to the Creation Festival in a beat up camper. Larry ministered to the youth of our small, rural, Ohio town for many years and his ministry lives on through The Barn, even though he is no longer directly involved.
When I left that community to attend college I had the opportunity to find new mentors. I attended a Christian college in rural Indiana. As I think back on those years, I can think of many men and women who had a small impact on my life from afar. Many were advisors or teachers. A couple I met with on a regular basis because activities or classes required it. However, I cannot name one that was a mentor to me. I don’t fault these men and women, I fault myself. I tend to be an observer. I will sit back and watch what is going on. I will be able to tell you about what I observed. Unfortunately, what I did not do is invite any of these men or women into my life to be mentored by them.
Today, I am in a position to mentor other college students, but have not done a great job. However, I have found hope and direction through a new book being released today. Guy Chmieleski, Campus Pastor at Belmont University, has written his first book, Shaping Their Future, to be a guide for individuals who mentor college students. After reading an advanced copy, I felt both disappointed in that I did not take advantage of mentors in college, and encouraged that I could still be that mentor to another student, much like Larry was to me throughout high school. Guy says this about mentors to college students:
“You are the X-Factor in someone’s college experience, in their journey through some of the most formative years of their lives.”
Larry was that X-Factor to me in high school. Guy will help you be that X-factor to college aged students by walking you through nine areas of life that they will grow and mature in while they are with us. He will encourage you in this process and be your guide.
Who has been a mentor to you and what was your biggest take-away from that relationship? Who are you mentoring now and what has that experience been like?