Sam was born in the humble Oklahoma town of Kingfisher, population four thousand. His family struggled financially while he was growing up, which led him to start working at the age of twelve. He delivered newspapers, milked cows, and sold magazine subscriptions. He did whatever he could to help his family. Sam was an average young man destined to have an average life. Nothing about him indicated greatness. However, Sam had a mentor in his life, Leland Stanford Robson, who empowered him to apply himself and strive for greatness.
He had his first break in 1945 when he opened a small retail store in Arkansas. It was popular and began to grow. Sam always seemed to know the products that the customers wanted. He opened a second store. Then a third . . . then a fourth. Soon, the boy who grew up milking cows found himself quite busy and quite wealthy.
Today his company is a household name; you’ve probably shopped at one of his stores. That boy, Sam Walton, is the founder of Wal-Mart. Almost twelve thousand Wal-Mart stores exist worldwide, and the Walton family is worth more than 160 billion dollars. The Wal-Mart empire started with a little boy named Sam and his mentor, Leland Stanford Robson.
Have a Mentor; Be a Mentor
Each day we have the opportunity to invest and mentor the young leaders of this generation. While our goal may not be to make them billionaires, our goal is even greater: to encourage this generation in their spiritual walk with God.The fact of the matter is that the young people of this generation don’t want you to try to be another teenager or young adult; they just need you to be you. Click To Tweet
According to YouthMentor.org, these are just a few stats that prove the power of mentoring:
- Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class.
- Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking.
- Seventy-six percent of at-risk young adults who have a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college, a contrast to half of at-risk young adults who have no mentor.
- Mentoring reduces symptoms of depression and increases social acceptance, academic attitudes, and grades.
Who was your mentor? Stats are wonderful, but let’s bring this back to home. For a moment think back to one person who made a substantial difference in your life. What were the traits of that person? What made the investment so impressionable in your life? Most likely your responses have nothing to do with that individual’s prestige, wealth, or possessions. While those are all admirable attributes, they aren’t the things that matter most.
UPCI and Mentoring
Recently, I surveyed various leaders within our organization about this topic of mentoring. These were UPCI World Headquarters officials, full-time pastors, bi-vocational pastors, and evangelists. This was the survey question:
“What character trait did you admire most about your mentor?” Here are some of the responses:
- “He invested in me and made me feel like I mattered.”
- “She took time out for me.”
- “He was never too busy to speak to me.”
- “I can’t remember one of his sermons, but I remember every conversation we had.”
- “I was really ‘insignificant,’ but he talked to me like I mattered.”
As I spoke with these leaders, many of them had a tear in their eye as they thought back to the individual who took time to interact with them.
Since you have taken the time to read this article thus far, perhaps you are ready for the real challenge: Are you willing to mentor someone? I’m sure excuses are already coming to mind: “I can’t relate to students. I can’t speak their language. I don’t understand all their technology or their jargon. I’m so different from that person.”
They are longing to learn from previous generations and more than anything just want time with you.
The fact of the matter is that the young people of this generation don’t want you to try to be another teenager or young adult; they just need you to be you. They are longing to learn from previous generations and more than anything just want time with you.
How to Mentor
Perhaps your mind is already wondering how you could possibly mentor a student or young adult. Know this: it doesn’t have to start with an all-day outing or a fancy trip. It starts with a simple five-minute conversation. Get into their world. Ask them about their hobbies. Talk to them about their walk with God. Share your struggles as a young person and watch how they begin to share their own struggles. This is just the beginning. In the weeks, months, and years to come, continue to invest and see how your investment pays dividends as the students or young adults start a family of their own and they then begin to invest in others.
“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither” (I Samuel 16:11). David was a young shepherd boy who didn’t have the credentials to be a future leader. No one looked to him to be the future king, not even his own family. However, it took a Samuel who heard the voice of God to understand that there was a king in that kid.
(A version of this article was published in Pentecostal Life.)
Matthew Johnson – Senior Pastor | The Sanctuary Church | Columbus, Indiana