“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson
I often heard and thought of the concept of mentoring as a hierarchy: the mentor was above, the mentee below. I help you, you are healed / you help me, I am healed. That kind of thing.
When I was in college, I had three summers of serving as a “Huddle leader” at the Kutztown FCA Camp week. I absolutely loved it. The first few summers, I think the reason I loved it the most was that I felt like I was truly helping kids. And I really think I was. But in my mind, I wasn’t realizing how much those kids were helping me.
Take for example, Tanisha, in this picture. Tanisha was from an inner-city and very, very quiet the first three days. I tried everything I could to make her feel comfortable and willing to talk! I thought my influence would somehow change her. Honestly, I didn’t know Tanisha and I was putting a lot of assumptions on her own happiness/personality/experiences and I was trying to change those for her. I watched her by the end of the week, though, get more comfortable, show off her beautiful smile, and heard a small nugget about her life. I learned that I loved walking with her that week and it helped me to appreciate someone coming from a different experience than my own.
Now, eight years later, as we get ready for Kutztown FCA Camp with our many local Syracuse athletes and coaches going down, I hope and pray the huddle leaders and coaches also realize how much of receiving goes into this kind of “leader/coach” experience. As much as we do give and help, we receive from these kids we work with, whether we realize it or not. Often we receive more of an understanding of God and ourselves. We learn about different experiences and backgrounds. We grow in liberation and restoring ourselves and the world around us as we help others and are bound together in the process.
We’re all taking a journey towards who we were made to be; some seem to be quicker or more narrowly on the path than others, some seem to be heading in the opposite direction, but we’re all human beings bound together and we’re all living this life. May we see every relationship as one where we are walking together, with no one greater than another.