Recently a young mother called me, frustration in her voice. She voiced concern that her boys were incorrigible and wouldn’t go to school. She further lamented that she was losing control and they needed someone to give them direction. I found out that the father had left the family and was a drug addict. I knew then that I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work! As a child growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s in the historic Overtown section of Miami, when and where the village did more to raise me, distinguished gentlemen ran quite a few households. I was expected to listen, obey and be respectful to the elders. I had plenty of men that I looked up to as models for roles that men played in shaping young minds. As I write this article I lament and observe with dismay seeing the young folk in this generation miss out on what it mean to look up to anything worthy of respect and honor. Of course, there are some who do not fit this description, but more often than not I see more than a token few who are not adhering. I’m tired of the sagging pants concept, the gansta mentality, and misappropriated swagger that fuels the aforementioned. The purpose of this essay is to shed light on my opinion of what men should do to mentor, and how children should go about being recipients of tutelage that can mold upstanding young men as leaders of tomorrow. What I’m observing is not indicative of the idea I have of what young folk should do for respect and honor.
Raising children in this generation is fraught with bastions of low self-esteem, dysfunctional families, and communities disenfranchised. Our young children most importantly are being misled and are embracing the wrong stimuli to propel them to greater expectations. The concept of the village raising a child is moribund and fleeting when you stop and think of all of the vices that are gripping our children today. Sex and immorality abound, including misappropriating values and options such as homosexuality and gender issues. I’ve always felt that there need to be more to help those in need in building character and being the respecter of all things good and gracious. Mentoring, in my opinion is the cornerstone of helping to change who, how and when we should look up to something and someone. In the bible there are several examples of men and mentoring: Paul mentored Timothy and Titus like sons in the faith, and they looked to Paul like a father. Elisha learned at the feet of Elijah and went on to be a greater prophet of God. Jonathan was the rightful heir to Israel’s throne but he forsook that to mentor and befriend young David.
Eschewing the limitations of a one man show, the necessity of prioritized regimen, and the giftedness of the body of Christ naturally leads to the importance of training and delegation. Neither Moses, following Jethro’s advice, nor the apostles ignoring the legitimate needs of the people, nor allowing themselves to be distracted from the primary needs of the people and the priorities of the Word caused father figures to mentor those that needed it most. It’s imperative therefore, for pastors to train the body of saints in the basics of the Word, and delegate various aspects of ministry to other qualified members of the body according to their gifts and the Lord’s leading in each believer’s life. We can always point to the necisssity of training and delegation -- Acts 6:3-4, I Timothy 4:6, 11-16 and 2 Timothy 2:2 to reinforce these ideas. We need men in the homes to stablilze familial order and allow children to look to their parents as their first mentors. Also, I’ve always felt that the church is the last frontier of hope for our youth and should be doing more to train them for the leadership roles that would propel and extrapolate them to fulfill their destinies. I do not discount social dynamics relative to community activism that challenge change to cultivate our children, but there needs to be incorporated in that tutelage spiritual values for better parallels. A church without a blue print to focus on challenging children to be the best that they can be with sustained tutorials and bonding sessions where transitioning boys to men is the norm rather than wishful thinking would be ineffective and lacking.
What then should men be dong to mentor? As mentioned earlier they should be right there to be right there to be the helpmate that wives need to nurture; they should shadow their children to build bonds that tie together love and respect; and most importantly they should train up their children using Biblical references and a sense of spiritual worth. On the other side of the coin is how children generally, and boys specifically, should go about choosing a mentor if the family structure isn’t as sound as it should be. First and foremost, someone with morals and upstanding mannerisms, with a strong community presence, and certainly someone who knows what the inside of a church looks like must be in place. The willingness to be taught where discipline is not spared should be qualities that all mentees should adhere to. I take mentoring serious and pride myself on making it a positive experience when I can help give the younger generation a better starting place for whatever they are going to pursue. Being a mentor means men should be about looking inside and outside of your Diaspora and thinking creatively in finding someone who needs direction. This can be done by helping a young boy to pull up his pants, or by coercing a young lady to keep her panties up, and to give both a helping hand to make the best decisions for career development. It means leading by example and exemplifying a model to be emulated and a wherewithal to be respected. I’m doing my part, what about you?