February 24, 2016

A significant part of mentoring is ownership. Until a student actually owns what is modeled, the process is not complete. Much of the way we do life revolves around this principle.

A child who has the benefit of parents who teach and live good behavior choices will usually mimic these attitudes during early childhood and even into their teens. But the jury is out on whether that child actually owns those behaviors. Somewhere in the journey, there has to be personal ownership, when the learner says, “This is who I am and this is the way I will live.”

One of the heartbreaks in parenting is the awareness that this ownership has not developed. Promising young people sometimes make choices contrary to how they were reared and seem comfortable with their choices. Parents wonder what happened to those earlier years when the child was so familiar with those principles and appeared to be committed to them.

Years ago while working in construction, I observed with fascination the journeyman-apprentice relationships. Some learners observed every detail, had no problem asking questions and succeeded. Others did not complete the program. They had the same mentors, sat under the same teachers and were given the same opportunities. But when left on their own, they failed. Apparently, they never actually owned the training.

Kids growing up in Christian homes and church environments have a great privilege. In addition to parental mentoring, they have other mature adults who invest in them. If they listen and observe, they will learn from both the successes and failures of their teachers. Most likely, they will have the opportunity to put what they are observing into their own experience.

The proof of their ownership of this heritage will come when they are old enough to make their own choices. Personal freedom combined with peer pressure will test their ownership of what they have been taught. Their actions will demonstrate whether or not they have taken ownership.

Pastor Bill Ehmann

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