Last night I hung out with a group of fifteen boys and girls, many of them from the local Lents neighborhood. My pastors, Phil and Priscilla, and their daughter Dana shared the honor with me. Dana led the effort. I was proud to join in. We watched the film G-Force. While not Oscar-worthy, the kids enjoyed it. There were hotdogs, chips, soda, popsicles, and popcorn. Everyone was happy. At the end, we divided in to small groups. Four boys from the neighborhood joined me. Using Nancy Keith’s very helpful resources found at the end of her review of the movie on Kidology, the boys and I interacted for a short while, talking life and faith in their world. I mostly asked questions and listened. They talked. To me; to each other, holding each other accountable so that their words matched reality. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
It was the stuff of mentoring. Boys need our presence more than our constant verbal advice. They need our interest in their world and personal realities more than our nuanced theological wisdom. Is wisdom and advice important? Sure. In its place. But we must first earn an audience. We must be actively present to them on their terms so that they will trust us enough to ask of the hope within us.
It could be argued that girls are no different. And that is true to a degree. But anyone who has worked with boys and girls extensively understands there are key differences relationally, emotionally, and at younger ages, even developmentally.
Ask yourself, are you currently mentoring one or more boys? How is it going? Please do share your experiences here.