Today’s guest post if from Brendan Tedford. In addition to his work life, Brendan volunteers as a leader of a youth group for 6th-12th graders at Webster Groves Christian Church in Saint Louis, Missouri. Today Brendan shares some words of wisdom he gained as he has started his journey as a youth mentor.
I wanted to write a few words about what it means to begin my journey as I become a Youth Leader. I sat with it for a while not knowing what I was going to say about it. I am currently one of the youth leaders over at Webster Groves Christian Church in St. Louis, MO. We are a group made of youth from 3 different churches. I used to be a youth in the group from 2002-2007, during my time in the 6th-12th grades. Then, in the fall of 2012, I came back to begin a new journey as a mentor.
Only a few months later, in the spring of 2013, the Associate Minister of Webster Groves Christian Church announced that she was leaving to work at another church. Not too long after that the Associate Minister of one of the other churches that made up our group announced that he was leaving as was another one of the other adult mentors.
Suddenly it was just me, the lone mentor, for the upcoming fall, in which I had a total of 10 youth. When I heard about the changes in mentors, I was speechless. For the first time I was nervous about being a mentor. The journey seemed to have changed a lot.
The first thing that I thought was “How do I make this easier for these youth, and how do I help them?” It was a little unnerving having to figure out what the fall was going to look like for these youth.
I prayed only once through the entire process of starting this difficult year because everything just fell into place after my prayer. I guess you could say that my prayers were heard. I had to construct a new team of mentors and we had to construct a new program, it wasn’t the easiest thing but we did it. I did it because I love these youth & that helps guide me because I want to make this the best thing I could ever make it for them.
Whenever people ask me about how I can work with teenagers or something similar to that effect, my response is, I don’t feel like an adult half of the time anyway…I feel like an older brother to these kids and I love them as if they were my own younger brothers and sisters. It wasn’t too long ago that I was a teenager myself since I am only 25 now. I believe that having been a youth in this group and being only 8 years older than most of them, helps me connect to them.
Being a mentor and teaching faith is not an easy thing for me to do, it wasn’t easy to begin and it certainly wasn’t easy to begin this year. It has been quite a journey, but someone once told me to never ignore my own faith journey as I help these youth, because, in a lot of ways, I’m walking the journey with them.