Mentoring Millennials

Tip #7: Be Supportive (1 Tim. 3:14-15)

“Whooooo-hooooo! Goooooo Chargers!” Such were the cries coming from the sidelines at a volleyball match. You would’ve thought this guy had never been to a sports game before. You would’ve thought he had an unending voice box and no max volume. With his thick Western accent, he crooned and cawed at his team—the team my sister’s team was playing against. So not only was he cheering the other team, but he was also extremely vociferous in doing so—if you catch my drift. This is the kind of guy you don’t want to invite to your Super Bowl party. “Nice hit! Nice serve! It’s okay—you’ll get it next time! Gooooo Chaaaaaargers!”

Now, if you tried doing that at your mentoring sessions, it probably wouldn’t work so well. If every time your mentee says something good or shows signs of growth you yell, “Woot-woot!”…then you probably won’t have very many mentees (millennials also don’t like to be embarrassed in a Starbucks). But there is a sense in which you should be cheering on your mentee. Not vocally—but just with your simple presence.

I mean by being your mentee’s biggest fan. Now, I know that’s their parents’ job. The mom is supposed to yell hysterically from the stands when her “baby” gets fouled while the Dad’s supposed to stand up and play Donald Trump to the ref. And you shouldn’t try to replace the parents. But there’s still room for you to play a supportive role as a mentor. If you want to build trust with the millennial generation, one sure-fire way is to be their fan.

What will that look like? Well, it doesn’t mean you’re out to boost their ego, like many worldly wise guys may suggest you do. “Tell them they’re awesome. Call them the greatest.” Blah blah blah…

But it does look kinda like what Paul did with Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, Paul told his young mentee, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that,  if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

Paul was writing this first letter because he didn’t know when he’d get a chance to come see Timothy in Ephesus, and he wanted to make sure he taught him how to train the church members. Paul was passionate about training young men for ministry—he longed to go visit Timothy and teach him in person (the preferred way). But since he could not, he had to settle for second-best—a long letter. Paul understood the importance of supporting his young mentee. He didn’t send him out on his own with no help as he pastored this hefty assembly. No, he wanted to provide all the ammunition young Timothy might need.

And so should you. Support your mentee. If they are competing in some competition, particularly if it has to do with the ministry (Bible quiz or the like), then you better be there with bells on! You could even help them prepare for that—what a great job for the mentor. Or, if they are going to be teaching or preaching for the first time, try to be there in the audience, smiling back. And afterward, be sure to come up to them and compliment them on a job well done. Of course there will be faults that perhaps you may need to discuss—but seek to build them up and remain as positive as possible.

Even if they are playing a sports game, what better way to show you care than to show up and cheer them on (just don’t do it too loudly or too often!). Who knows? Perhaps Paul surprised Timothy by being in the stadium audience when he went out to compete in a chariot race. “Gooooo Timothy!!!!” Or maybe not…



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