Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Mentor as Coach
"When would-be athletes are young, a coach begins with the basics. He explains everything. He's not just on the field; he's positioning kids' feet and arms, showing them how to catch the pass or hit the ball. He's involved in every movement, every choice.
"Later comes scrimmage time, when the coach moves from being in the middle of the play to being just behind it. He's still close, but he's not involved hands-on. He lets the players play, calling instructions as needed. At the end of practice, he's there to point out where things went right and where they went wrong.
"When the day finally arrives for a real game, the coach stays on the sidelines. The players take the field. The coach can shout directions, but he doesn't hold the players' hands or demonstrate technique anymore. He waits for time-outs, halftimes, and the end of the game to offer detailed guidance.
"It's the same way with parents who want to be spiritual mentors. In the early years, we may show our children how to pray, even giving them words to say and telling them to close their eyes. Later we might ask leading questions: 'Are there any problems at school we should pray about? What happened today that you can thank God for? Do you want to pray first or should I?"
"Eventually our kids are praying on their own, often silently. We might wish we could elbow our way into those conversations, but all we can do is make suggestions from the sidelines: 'I keep a list of answered prayers; it reminds me to keep praying no matter what.' 'Please pray for Mrs. Logan next door; she just found out her husband has Alzheimer's.' 'If you'll pray about my sales presentation today, I'll pray about your geometry test.'
"Our shouts of encouragement may come at the end of a school day or in a note in a lunch bag. Our halftime pep talks may be delivered on a weekend or during a family vacation. Our postgame analyses may occur at bedtime or over pie at a coffee shop.
"Sometimes we'll find ourselves sharing the coaching duties with others - camp counselors, youth leaders, or Sunday school teachers. But because we're the parents of our teens, we'll be their head coaches - their primary mentors - for better or for worse."
Excerpt from Parent's Guide to the Spiritual Mentoring of Teens.
Posted by Kevin Mahaffy, Jr. at 11:00 AM