This week, we’ll take a closer look at the third need…BEING PRESENT. We cannot ever underestimate the power of presence in a young person’s life. For a variety of reasons, students today often feel alone (and are left alone). Even with the rise of social media and the number of apps/ways available to see and talk to people online, there is still a yearning for more meaningful face-to-face relationships. Students need to be seen and heard and cared for, and our consistent presence as mentors communicates that to them.
Students need you to be consistently PRESENT in their lives.
And, here are a handful of practical tips & reminders for how you can do that well in one hour…
Be consistent. We need to be this all of the time, but especially now in a year where so much of what students have counted on and looked forward to has been taken away. Think of that hour that you have with your student as something that resembles and even feels “normal” to them in a world where what is now “normal” is being constantly redefined. Your consistent presence is like an anchor for them right now. Something that they can hold on to and count on even as things continue to get canceled, shut down, or remain uncertain. So, show up and be consistent!
Be normal. This was already alluded to, but it’s worth saying again. The hour that we have to mentor our students can either add to their feeling of angst over all that is going on in their worlds, or it can give them some space and relief from it. If we bring our own angst or if we let the everyday fallout of COVID-19 dictate the mood of the hour, it will just add to our students’ angst. But, if we look for ways that we can bring a little bit of normalcy back into their lives, we can actually do a lot of good. So, what does a little bit of normalcy look like for you and your student? Maybe it’s playing a favorite game together, or doing a favorite hobby together, or learning something new together, or even eating together. Whatever it is, just be normal!
Be all in. The power of your presence is huge, and so is the power of your investment. So, the level of investment that you make with your student will ultimately impact how much (or how little) difference you make in their lives. If you go into each hour with your student distracted or disengaged, you’re not really investing that much. Plus, students can tell very quickly if you are giving them your full attention or not. On the other hand, if you go into that hour “all in” with your student, you are communicating that you care enough about them that you are willing to invest one hour of face-to-face time with them every week. Sadly, some students don’t even get that from their parents or adults at home. So, invest well…and be all in!
Check back next week as we take a closer look at the fourth and final way that we can bring hope to the students we mentor….
-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor.
- Students need you to HEAR them.
- Students need you to be OPEN with them.
- Students need you to be consistently PRESENT in their lives.
- Students need you to EMPATHIZE with them.
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to network with other youth workers.