Listening to the podcast of a great role model, Paul Tan Chi, in my last post reminded me of a conversation I had with my eldest daughter, Lynn, a few days after she came back from our church’s SOLD OUT youth camp.
We were driving, just the two of us, and I wanted to strike up a conversation with her about her first experience with the youth (remember, she’s only 11, too young to be in the youth but I let her join their camp anyway). The topic eventually happened upon who she likes and admires in the group, which led her to mention several names, such as one student of mine who she became quite close to, and a daughter of the woman in the Garage Sale for A Cause blog I did a while back, among many others.
However, when I asked her who was the one person she wanted to emulate, without batting an eyelash she mentioned a certain girl’s name. Smiling, I asked her why she considered this girl her hero, and Lynn started her reply with the overly clichéd, yet still meaningful, Gen-Y expression:
I smiled because that “awesome” girl, let’s just call her Angelica, was also my student. Another reason why I smiled is because it brought me back to a time when Angelica was a few years younger.
I was serving in the youth ministry that time and Angelica, if I’m not mistaken, had just entered high school, maybe a year or two older than Lynn is now. While we were hanging out after one of our youth ministry gatherings, in comes a friend of hers, a former member of the group and an alumnus of the same school, back in town for a week long break from one of the country’s top universities. Let’s just call this girl Katrina.
As Katrina was saying her hellos to the girls in the group, Angelica told me, “You know, sir, I want to be just like Katrina. She’s so awesome!” (There’s that cliché again)
Well, Angelica has recently also gone on to graduate, and indeed she ended up much like her hero. Both got into the best universities of the Philippines. Both led the school in championship winning endeavors. Both have earned the respect and admiration of peers and faculty alike (Katrina is still being used as an example by our boss, years after she’s been gone). Most importantly, they both loved and served God passionately.
Katrina was a greatly positive influence to Angelica, whose character and excellence then became an inspiration for Lynn. Surely, they are far from perfect, but I hope one day Lynn will be able to follow in their footsteps and be an “awesome” role model to younger girls.
It goes to show how great an impact M&M could be. What’s M&M you ask? Modeling and Mentoring. I have my own “awesome” M&Ms in my life, and I think we all need that. More importantly, for our own children and for the glory of God, we need to BE that.
So what are the characteristics of a great model and mentor? I have some answers for you, coming from our 2nd module of our Parenting That Makes a Difference study.
First off, modeling is lifestyle teaching. The adage “Do what I say, not what I do,” doesn’t work because the truer phrase is “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you’re saying.”
No bones about it, kids and teens can sniff out hypocrisy like a bloodhound, so you yourself have to be what you want them to be. If you don’t walk your talk, then don’t talk!!
Philippians 3:17 – “Brethren, join me in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”
For the mentoring part, here’s the Law of Relationship: the closer the relationship, the greater the influence.
I remember Angelica writing a note to her teammates on Facebook after the girls’ varsity soccer championship win, which ended up being her very last match. Here’s a small part of what she said:
Not only was my heart warmed by her urging them to play “for His glory and His alone” (not the glory of the school or their own person), but also by the flood of heartfelt comments on the note, thanking her for her leadership and example, that things wouldn’t be the same without her, that they’d be lost if she weren’t there.
She was obviously a large part of their lives…just like a mentor should be.
Parents, here’s a warning: biological relationship does not automatically mean a good relationship. Sadly, many kids are closer to their friends then they are to their parents, and a lot of it is because of lack of time and lack of relationship nurtured by the latter. No wonder there’s so much rebellion.
Remember parents, “our values become their values if they like and respect us. If they don’t like us, they will oppose our values.”
Both Katrina and Angelica were very close to their dads, both Godly men who served Him in great ways…and their daughters followed suit. Furthermore, Angelica becoming so much like Katrina is due in part to their friendship, having been friends since they were young kids and lately sharing a tent in the aforementioned youth camp.
How about you? Are you a role model to your kids? They will follow you whether you’re a good example or a bad one; and that’s true whether you like it or not. Furthermore, do younger kids consider your children as role models? These are big, heavy questions, and I hope you’re honest with your self assessment here.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
Personally, I have decided to give my professional life and much of my personal life to the effort of mass-producing these “awesome” role models, be they teens or peers. Some, like Angelica and Katrina, don’t really need a whole lot of work, but there are lots of broken young people out there who do need someone to turn to…a hero. May I be used by God to be one such person.
Man, I think I should be a Life Coach, hahaha!
I'll close with one of my favorite songs...it's as if it was tailor made for how I feel about this.