Hiding In Plain Sight

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,[ …..] teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19,20

In 2021, I want to affirm the commitment to help others mentor the next generation through this blog.  This is the time of year where people make resolutions, usually about making yourself better, losing weight or reading the Bible through in a year. 

All that is good, but often it becomes personal navel gazing. I have a suggestion.  Consider focusing not on yourself but invest in someone else’s life to make them better. We are consumed by our need for self-improvement and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

But we often ignore that Jesus last command on earth was a call to disciple others. It’s a call to an outward, not inward focus. Sitting in church worshiping (or virtually these days) and Biblical learning are good disciplines.  But becoming a discipler of others is equally if not more important.

The next generation is starved for mentors.  One of the things I’ve had to do over the past several years is study millennials and Generation Z.  If you’re going to help the next generation, you need to know where they are, or often where they aren’t.

So, if you want to get into their minds, why not listen to what they are saying.  The following is from a Quora post by a 16-year-old girl and was titled “What We Won’t Tell Our Parents.”

Sixteen year old girl here. Woo, this is going to be an interesting answer. Possible trigger warning.

  1. Relationships – if we know that you (our parents) are going to disapprove of the person we’re seeing, then we’re likely to hide it from you. We can be crafty in hiding messaging and time together.
  2. Friendships – basically same as #1, except no romance involved.
  3. School – I might be a straight A student, number 4 (out of around seventy students) in my class, but does that mean I will share everything about my academics with you? No. Some of it is embarrassing (like not doing great on a test I studied my behind off for), and [it] shall remain in the confines of my thoughts.
  4. Bullying – If we’re being bullied at school, we’re probably not going to say anything because we think either you’ll handle it in a way that will embarrass us, or you simply won’t care.
  5. Mental health issues/conditions – Variety of reasons for hiding these. Maybe we don’t feel we can talk about this with you, we don’t want to burden you with our problems, or we don’t want to change the way you look at us because of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. This ties in with the next couple.
  6. Eating disorders – These can be hard to recognize for the affected person, and also, we may hide this for reasons above.
  7. Self-harm/suicidal thoughts – We want you to think we’re fine. We want you to believe you have the happy child you always dreamed about.
  8. Social media – If you don’t think we should have it and everyone around us does, we’re going to want to fit in.
  9. Sexuality – I’ve never had to deal with this so if anyone has, please add on to this. You might have beliefs against being LGBT but since we’re not you, we could be.
  10. Religion – I’ve been raised in a Christian home. Church every Sunday, yadda yadda yadda. I walked the lines of apostasy for almost two years before anyone found out. Now I’m somewhere in between deeply devout and an apostate.”

Those 10 topics cover a lot of waterfront. It makes you wonder what they do discuss with parents. I’m pretty sure it is very superficial. 

If you are not familiar with Quora Digest, you should know that it is a hangout for many in the next generation. It is instructive to what they are thinking or feeling, but not telling their parents.  

I have often said that parents can tell the actual moment when their children become adolescents. That moment is marked by their turning deaf overnight.  It’s a humorous way to say that at some point in time, your kids will tune you out. 

But they may confide in someone else.  Someone they trust.  Someone they have developed a relationship with, like a mentor.   I have had mentees open up about topics like those above with me. One even said that he would never think of discussing certain issues with his own parents. 

So, if you are looking around for someone to invest in, you don’t have to look very far. They are all around you and hiding in plain sight.  Their parents would love to have you involved in their lives as a mentor and positive influence in this day and time where social media is a pervasive influence.

Below is a list of some topical mentoring posts from the last five years. 

MENTORING RESOURCES:

Influence – a model for mentoring.

Moses – the first Mentee – Part I – Biblical principles of mentors

Moses – Jethro Principles Part II

Selfie-Esteem – The impact of social media

Spirituality – a look into the spirituality of the next generation

Communication – how to communicate with the next generation

Millennials – a profile

Fine – asking questions to get beyond pat answers

Gen Z Distinctives – Gen Z profile

Fingerprints – a strategic view of mentoring.

Why Not? – a call to get off the sidelines

Pay Attention – the impact of shortened attention spans

Gen Z Trends – more insights

Google GIGO – the next generation getting wrong answers from the internet

WORSHIP: Overcomer – Mandissa

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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