A Struggling Mentor

So this is kind of hard to talk about. I don’t know what to say and not say, but even people in this position struggle. And it’s difficult because some days I want to just get up and psych myself up and tell myself it’ll get better. Other days I tell myself it’s not and I should just give up. But I know I can’t.
I’ve been a mentor for middle school and high schoolers for close to a year now. Yes, it’s at a church which is an instant turnoff for a lot of people, but so many times, I feel like there’s so much work to be done in these young people’s lives that has nothing to do with spiritual things. It’s just flat out a morality problem. It’s living with what this community stands to fight against. I’ve been given a responsibility to more or less in a church setting teach these young people right from wrong and that choosing the right will ultimately lead to a better lifestyle (for the sake of everyone here, I’m leaving so much out of the picture. There’s so much more to it, but that’s for a different conversation and for the ones who want to have it)
But so many times, I just see these students walk in, learn something that they can do to better their lives, and then walk out and do absolutely nothing about it. In fact it seems like they’ll do worse. I’ve been told so many times that it just takes time, it takes a development of friendship and trust before they’ll listen. It takes so much before change will happen. But too many times I just wonder, “am I the problem? Am I not doing it right?” I found out some news about one of the young people in my youth group that I won’t share here because I promised to keep it confidential. But it just breaks my heart that these youth, this generation lives and struggles with so much, that they blatantly watch the wrong things in life happen, and they think it’s okay. Because that’s what society tells them. And I can’t change it. I can’t change their mindset. I can’t show them that there’s more to life, there’s a better way. There’s a better plan for them than just following the dark, old, beaten path that everyone else is destined to go down. It makes me feel like absolutely worthless. Not always helpless on my own, but helpless to them. It just hurts. I don’t want to see the ones I’ve grown to love, like the One who loved me most, fall into a pattern of bad decisions because that’s what they’re told is okay or that’s what they feel is the only thing to get by or be accepted. We were made for more than this.
I love you all so much. Thank you for listening.

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Hey man, it’s not your fault. It really isn’t.

Youth mentors in a church setting can be really important people in the lives of youth, and I’m sure you are a great mentor. You’re showing here how much you care about it, and that says a lot. That already puts you above all the mentors who don’t truly care to practice what they preach or to have people actually listen. That passion and genuine character is crucial, and I commend you for that. I’m sure it has helped people in your youth community.

But here is the thing. People will not always listen. My friend dragged me along to my first church camp and I met a lot of cool people. I loved the whole week, and it meant a lot to me, and I still consider lots of those people friends. There is a really tightly-knit friend group that came out of it that still exists today. We had a GREAT youth coordinator/mentor and I’m sad she is not doing it anymore. Even still, there are so many different types of people, and not everyone seems to listen or live out what they are being taught or shown. One of the people in this group is in college, can’t function normally without weed, and has probably slept with have the kids at her school (not kidding, small school). We still love her, and I still love our youth mentor. Another one joined a frat and was forced to do cocaine. I still love him, and I still love our youth mentor. Another one, the one who brought me along to the camp, is having some alcohol problems and I’m pretty worried about him sometimes. I still love him, and I still love our youth mentor. If kids are making bad decisions, it is not your fault. This world is a scary place and people fall victim to lots of the things that plague the world. You could teach them everything there is to be taught and they could still succumb to the world. It is not your fault. Please, please just keep up this passionate attitude and do your best to support and guide these kids. You are doing a wonderful thing, and you seem like a great person to be doing it. Keep it up, man. You’re not doing anything wrong. You are not the problem. I wish you the best <3

Hey there,

I can tell you really have a heart for helping young people and truly want what is best for them. So, I can see how you would feel discouraged putting so much effort and love into them and still seeing them make the same bad decisions over and over again. I agree with @zleif in that people will not always listen. Although we can’t make people make better choices for themselves, we can choose to give it to God and know that He has His hand on their lives just like He does on ours. So with that being said, I would encourage you to trust in God and rely on Him and pray for guidance that He would continue to speak through you to help reach these kids. You can only control your actions and the choices they make are not because of you or a reflection of your ability to encourage and guide them. Know that God has it all under control and will use you just as He intended to help these kids. We believe in you friend! Know that I am thinking of you and praying for continued strength and guidance!

Hold Fast,

Hannah Rhodes