Erin. John. John (a different one). Henry. Margie. My Mammy. Jim. Kevin. Barry. Olin. Jan.
These are just some of the people in my life who are older than me. Some are old enough to be my grandparents (and one is!). Some are only old enough to be my older sibling. Some are in between–maybe old enough to be my aunt or uncle.
They have one thing in common: they have all imparted wisdom at an important juncture in my life.
Erin encouraged me to use gifts I didn’t know that I possessed.
John saw a calling when I didn’t.
The other John I count as a very dear friend, almost a grandfather to me, who will always be a listening ear and will always, always check in with me about my spiritual life.
Henry is a dear professor who I can always count on for keen insight about my vocation.
Margie is an excellent advisor on all things, both personal and vocational.
My Mammy is quite possibly the kindest person and best example of a Christian life I have ever known, whose door is always, and has always been, open for her grandchildren.
Jim is a fantastic college professor who opened my eyes to the beauty of literature and always has the best one-liners.
Kevin is another fantastic college professor who helped me wrestle with my faith, but maybe more importantly, helped me through the most difficult week of my college years, when my family was in crisis, and I had finals.
Barry and Olin are ministers under whom I worked. Both are men of vision and integrity, and gave me wisdom in both of those areas.
Jan is a trusted Christian Education mentor who sought me out and spent time with me even when she was busy.
Did you notice that none of these people are my parents? That’s not because my parents aren’t important (I know that I’ve written about each of them individually); it’s because every kid/adolescent/young adult needs adults in their life that are imparting the same values as their parents.
Some of us on the staff are reading Think Orange, and in it, Reggie Joiner posits five things that every kid needs. One thing is:
Another voice saying the same things parents say.
I was listening to a podcast recently by another children’s minister, and he shared what this has meant for his family.
He and his wife have already chosen these voices for their children. He is not leaving them up to chance. They are already actively forming relationships with his young children, so that when they get to be teenagers, they will already have responsible adult mentors who don’t have to start from scratch with them.
I wonder what it would look like for you to do that. Who would you ask? How would you ask them?