It was a running joke in seminary for my friends to guess which professor would offer to take me out to lunch next. Being the academic overachiever I was (usually at the expense of everything else in life), at least once per term a teacher would want to chat with me. A few just wanted to get to know me better after reading some of my papers; one had books to recommend; and two (one in particular) wanted to urge me on towards doctoral studies. Regardless, they all had one thing in common: a personal desire to invest in the next generation.
That's something each of us should share. We can't live forever in this world, after all, and it's up to us to prepare our successors to take the helm. To that end, we need to take up the role of mentor. I have been blessed with a number of incredible mentors in my life, but even as I continue to learn from them, I should be sharing that wisdom with the next generation, too. Younger people thrive on relationships, and in our broken world, they need women and men of God to help disciple them, to love them, and to show them how to become mature Christians, all within the context of friendship.
That loving relationship is fundamental. A teenager won't listen to a stranger (just ask any high school teacher). As one of my own mentors once said, "They don't need a sage on the stage; they need a guide alongside." Our church is blessed with many experienced, mature Christians capable of being a guide alongside. Will you be one of them? Are you willing to become a mentor and a friend to a younger Christian -- or a younger person in need of Christ's salvation? If you are, go do it! And may God bless your investment in the future.