If you pay attention to trends among people working with adolescents, one word you’ll hear frequently is “mentor”.
A mentor is an individual, usually older and always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development without having a goal of personal gain.
Some professions have “mentoring programs” where newcomers are paired with more experienced employees who advise and guide them as they advance. Schools sometimes offer mentoring programs to new students, or to students having difficulties.
But what are the benefits to having a mentor in the context of working with youth? Look at this research:
- Mentored youth were 46 percent less likely to initiate drug use during the study period. An even stronger effect was found for minority Little Brothers and Little Sisters, who were 70 percent less likely to initiate drug use than their peers.
- Mentored youth were 27 percent less likely to start using alcohol during the study period, and minority Little Sisters in particular were about half as likely to start drinking.
- Mentored youth were almost one-third less likely to hit someone.
- Mentored youth skipped half as many days of school as their peers, felt more competent about doing schoolwork, cut fewer classes, and showed modest gains in their grade point averages. These gains were strongest among Little Sisters, particularly minorities.
Mentoring is an expression of love. And according to the Bible, it is our imperative to love others.
Jesus Christ told his disciples that people will know they are followers of Him by the love that they show to others.
Mentoring, as a way to show love to others, is pretty powerful stuff with long-lasting benefits.
Why not get involved in a mentoring program in your church or community?