Bible class teachers can have a great impact on the spiritual lives of students. Some students though, will benefit even more if you can mentor them outside of class. Mentoring young people is a bit different from mentoring in business. You probably won’t walk up to an eight year old and ask if you can mentor him or her.
Mentoring kids and teens tends to evolve over time. Often, we don’t even realize we have become a mentor until months or even years later. That’s because natural, organic mentoring starts with building a relationship with the mentee.
Over time as you do things together, you will begin having conversations. Some of them will be silly, some interesting and some impactful. You can begin the type of relationship that will often lead to mentoring by doing a few simple things on a regular basis. Here are our favorites:
- Come early and stay late. On days you are teaching, come to class a little earlier than normal and stay a few minutes once class is over. Often students will come early or stay late and chat with you. It’s a great way for them to get to know and begin developing trust with you.
- Coffee shops, zoos and painting pottery. Believe it or not, young people like doing interesting things with adults – especially if the adult is paying! With the parents’ permission, offer to meet a couple of students at a local coffee shop or take a couple of them to the zoo. Or perhaps a couple of your students would love to meet you at one of those shops where you try out a hobby. While you are there, you can begin having longer conversations and get to know each other better. Students may begin to naturally open up about things that are bothering them or that they can’t quite figure out yet.
- Field trips. These are usually with slightly larger groups of students or maybe an entire class. Invite enough chaperones though, so each adult is only responsible for four or five young people. These smaller groups make conversation a little easier than when you are trying to manage a group of ten to fifteen young people.
- Attend their events. Is a student you are trying to mentor in the school band? Does she or he take dance lessons or play a sport? Attending their events shows a young person how much you really care. They may never articulate it, but they know how rare it is for someone unrelated to take the time and effort to support someone in their activities.
- Visit them at home and/or at school. Ask parents if it is okay for you to stop by their house and say hello to your student. In some schools, with parental permission, you can even go have lunch with students. Visiting their world not only gives you more insight into their lives, but also lets them know you are interested in what happens to them.
Not every child will be open to being mentored. For those who are though, a mentor can help them develop stronger spiritual foundations and grow to their godly potential. It’s worth doing things that will make a mentoring relationship more likely.