youth worker, youth ministry, mentoring

The Weights Students Carry

By Doug Franklin October 24, 2012

If you mentor a student, you will often discover that your student is carrying a weight that is dragging them down. There are two main kinds of weights to focus on when mentoring students; the first one is the most obvious, including character flaws and sin. The second kind of weight that students carry includes fear, regret, worry, guilt and bad patterns. In a culture where it’s more normal to have broken families than not, addictions are commonplace, and there’s easy access to any temptation a student might have, we can expect our students to be carrying these types of weights.

These can be hard topics to broach. Not many people openly admit their short falls or fears. A student will really need to feel like the relationship they have with you is a safe place to be vulnerable. This isn’t something you can manufacture, or simply state; creating a relationship that is built upon care and trust takes time. Throughout your mentoring relationship (and especially in the beginning), spend time thinking of how your mentee would know you care about them and go the extra mile to communicate that. Show up at their games or events, invite them into your own life or over for a family dinner, send them texts or Facebook messages during the week. Ask intentional questions, listen well and be authentic. When your mentee knows you really care about them, they are more likely to reveal to you the weights that they are carrying.

This can be one of the best parts of a mentoring relationship. When a student shares their burden with you, you have a golden opportunity. You can share the grace that they are refusing to accept from Christ, offering second chances and showing them Christ through you. You can set up accountability that will keep them from picking up the same weight further down the road. At times, you can even take their hand and walk with them as they face and overcome fears or insecurities. And in the sad circumstances when you find a student carrying a weight that was put on them by someone else, you can actually take it from them.

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