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I’m a terrible mentor

Updated: Sep 12, 2023


i'm a terrible mentor

When I first signed up to be a mentor, I had big dreams. I wasn’t looking to win any medals, but I definitely had grandiose ideas of what good mentorship looked like. I imagined Friday night games and weekends at the lake. I saw us go-cart riding, camping, and giving the kind of fireside chats that leave a young man forever changed. I wanted to be a killer combo of Ron Swanson and Gandalf, with a healthy dash of Yoda. I know. It’s a slight stretch.

I met my mentee, Marquis, early in the spring. He’s a freshman in high school. He plays football, enjoys sleeping in, scrolling on his phone, and a solid playlist. Fun fact? Wind, rain, or shine, Marquis is usually sporting flip-flops. I give him a hard time about it, but I’m really just jealous. I’m too old to pull them off.

I’ve made it a habit to make most of Marquis’ football games. Toward the end of this season, Marquis had a game scheduled for Thursday night at the rival high school. I had it on the calendar and planned to head there straight from work. I got a text in the middle of traffic. “The game was moved, we’re playing across town now. Can you still make it?” I rattled off a series of texts explaining all the reasons I might not be there. Rush hour traffic, a long work day at work, I’d miss half the game, and so on and so on.

I eventually turned the car around. I cared about Marquis, and I wanted to see him kick some tail, so I made my way across town. I got there halfway into the second quarter, plenty of time to snag popcorn and see some action. We won, and Marquis played fantastic. I texted him a few videos of some of his best plays on my way home, congratulating him on the win. All he texted back was, “I knew you’d make it. Thank you”

That’s all there is to it. People willing to come. Men and women ready to show up. I’ve learned that’s the most important thing a mentor can do. The football games, the pep rallies, the school lunches, and the Saturday scrimmages. Showing up for the everyday, and living life alongside these young men - that’s what matters the most. The majority of the time, Marquis doesn’t care where we are or what we’re doing. He just cares if I’m there. All that matters is that I showed up. And if you think about it, isn’t that what Jesus did best? Of course, he preached truth and saving grace everywhere he went. He also turned water into wine and raised people from the dead. Minor stuff. But the scriptures tell us quite clearly that Jesus’ ministry on earth was not only marked by miracles and sermons, but by ordinary living. He ate dinner with friends, he sat in people’s living rooms, and he went fishing with his disciples. Jesus lived life with people from all walks of life. He was there. Time and time again, he showed up.

“PEOPLE WILLING TO COME. MEN AND WOMEN READY TO SHOW UP. I’VE LEARNED THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A MENTOR CAN DO.”

I’m grateful for a Savior that loves us in extraordinary ways, but perhaps the coolest thing about our God, is the way He loves us in the everyday, ordinary. How cool is it that Forerunner gives us the opportunity to show our love for one another by doing just that. Showing up.


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