January 10, 2018
Teachers, youth sponsors and mentors can become so involved in the day-to-day routine that they fail to realize the influence they are having on individuals. A few months ago, Carol and I attended a reunion of the youth group that we pastored more than 40 years ago. It was an amazing experience.
Some of the students in that group are now grandparents and retiring from their careers. We were encouraged to hear of good choices made during the decades since we had so much fun doing life with those people.
What stands out to me most involves two couples who were volunteer youth sponsors on our team. The two men had executive jobs in the technology field and worked long hours. But you could always count on them being at youth events – Sundays, Wednesdays, retreats, work projects, overnighters and more. Their wives prepared food, mended hurts, listened to tearful stories and prayed.
At the reunion, a number of those students shared fun stories and admitted to challenges they gave the sponsors. Laughter filled much of the evening. But what stood above all the rest were the comments they made about those sponsors who loved them, accepted them, forgave them and protected them when other adults had no patience for them.
I am sure that some of the teaching is still remembered – after all, it was a church group. But what I heard most was the power of example. Today we call it “mentoring.” Adults were willing to be vulnerable, honest and available. It is that influence that continues to impact those people.
As I walk throughout our church campus on a busy Wednesday evening, I cannot help but wonder if the leaders are thinking about the memories they are helping the kids create and what it will mean to them 40 years from now. The Apostle Paul invited people to follow him as he followed Christ. This is our formula for lasting influence.
Pastor Bill Ehmann