youth ministry, student ministry, youth worker, mentor

Friend vs. Mentor

By Doug Franklin December 10, 2012

Often times adult volunteers want to be liked by students, so they cross the line between friend and mentor. They tell students what they want to hear instead of hard truth they need to hear. Below is a list of a few of the finer qualities taken from a friend or mentor relationship. Think about what the student gains from having this kind of relationship with a leader.

1. The Hard Truth: Students get plenty of honesty from their friends, but they need a leader who tells them the truth out of love. They need someone who sees God best for them and will work with them to bring it out.

2. Unconditional Love: Love is one of the most confusing and often misunderstood words to students. Leaders need to model what it looks like to love unconditionally, start by telling students that you love them and that you won’t leave them. I often tell them that I am not like other adults, I will not let them stay the same, I will push them to grow.

3. Humble Honesty: Students will be blessed by having a leader who shares their life story with them, not someone who only preaches at them. Tell them the redemption story of your life. Allow them to see and understand your mistakes and let them know the peace you have from forgiveness.

4. Challenge: Paint a picture for students of what they can do for God. Let them see how God has used students to accomplish His goals. Help them understand what God wants to do in them and through them.

5. Selflessness: Students have one great love; themselves. It is a vital responsibility of the leaders to work at teaching their students the act of selflessness. By putting others’ needs first, leaders have the opportunity to consistently show students that life is about more than just themselves.

6. Value:  Students are bombarded daily from every direction about who they should be in the eyes of the world: smart, attractive, wealthy, funny, etc. A leader building intentional relationships challenges them in areas that reach deeper. Remind students of their potential in Christ, show them what is important by how you spend your money and how you give your time.

7. Consistent: Empty promises are hard to forget. What if our students had a relationship with someone they knew they could always count on? Leaders who are consistent, they do what they say and they keep their promises.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More