Let me start #3 with this:
Mentorship has always been a value of mine. I realized at a very young age that I could invest into many different things in life but people is where you see the greatest return. I’ve been mentoring teen girls for over 17 years, but about 2 years in; I learned a valuable mentorship lesson. One thing I noticed about the life of Jesus was that he had his 12 disciples, but then there were 3. Three that he truly invested his time and heart into. Peter, James, and John... I sensed that God was showing me that I could spend time with lots of young teen girls, but who were the ones that I would really pull in close and share my life with? I asked God to highlight a few girls with whom I knew my time would have the greatest impact. I wanted it to be time well spent and to be with those who they themselves had influence. Bonnie was one of those girls.
I had the privilege of being a youth leader at the church she attended. I was assigned to help lead a small group that she was in and I committed to leading that group for 4 years. Bonnie and I immediately hit it off. She was funny. Really funny. We had some really great conversations as she went thru her teen years. We shared laughter, and some tears. There was something about her that always told me; ‘there’s more inside of her, God’s hand is on this one.’
She and I began to have a weekly breakfast appointment and we would share about family, boys, future goals and I would ask her some tough questions and, honestly, she didn’t hold any punches either. I watched Bonnie develop from being a young, silly, happy-go-lucky girl into a mature leader ready to go, ready to invest her life into others the way I had for her.
Bonnie graduated high school, was enrolled into a local community college that next fall. My job of being her youth leader was officially ‘done’. But before the summer was over and college was about to start, she was looking for a way to give me a gift to say thanks for the last four years. And a pretty smelling candle just wasn’t going to cut it.
(Ok- get ready for this.)
One evening at our local church, Bonnie was having her alone time with God. While she was there, some song lyrics came to her, so she wrote them down. God had given her a song to thank me- except she didn’t even play one single instrument or had never written a song. And quite honestly, I had never heard her express much interest in music or had ever heard her sing. So she had a friend help her put notes to it and play the piano behind her vocals. Bonnie’s original plan was to sing it to me in private, but through some changing of circumstances she was given the opportunity to sing it at our youth service that Wednesday night- in front of over 400 kids. Mind you, she had NEVER sang in public before, let alone a song that she had personally written.
After that night, the rest is history.
Through her prayer times within the next six months, God taught her to play piano and she was flooded with worship songs that just kept coming out of her. She had found her God calling.
Since then she has led worship in some amazing churches and just recently released a worship album in partnership with her husband. Let me tell you, it is powerful.
You can hear it on iTunes here:
Lift You Up by Matt and Bonnie Greene
I find myself singing these worship songs in the car, when I’m in the bathroom getting ready and now my kids are starting to sing them too. I love that this young girl that I invested into for 4 years in high school is now a grown woman ministering to me and my family over 10 years later.
God was equipping and preparing Bonnie throughout those years to give her a platform. Now her words of love written to Jesus influence and motivate me and others to love Him more. Her songs take me to His presence. What I helped do for her as a teen she now does for me as an adult. Her act of gratitude back towards me took Bonnie on a God journey that she NEVER expected. Me neither.
You see, mentorship isn’t about us trying to mold people into looking like us. Mentorship is about being available to a few girls that you see potential in. God never filled me in on what He would do through Bonnie (or any other young girls for that matter) in the years to come. What He did fill me in on was the opportunity to invest in them.
So can I say something else about mentorship?
Never underestimate the small beginning, the small moments, the simple times when it seems mundane and that God isn’t producing big miracles right away.
I spent four years of weekly breakfast at the Waffle Shop, Monday night small group Bible study, Wednesday night youth. In those 4 years I don’t recall some big turn around moment or crazy God experience in Bonnie’s life. But it was the constant sense that she had more. It was the belief that I was to play a role in helping her find her niche, her God calling. So many times we want to mentor to become someone’s savior. That they have some horrible life situation and we need to save them from it. But God isn’t calling you to save them, that’s His job. He’s called us to disciple. To invest in a life so that God has the OPPORTUNITY to reveal His plans to them.
One of my favorite quotes is this:
GOD OFTEN USES SMALL MATCHES TO LIGHT GREAT TORCHES.
So those early morning breakfasts?
Those Monday nights at Bible study?
Those Wednesday youth nights?
Those late night talks?
Those prayers invested into her life?
Those hand written encouraging notes?
The money spent on pizza and candy?
The weekends away for youth retreats?
A great torch of a young woman burning for God and His light shining through.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
A Word to Teen Girls:
I realize that you are in a place in life that is supposed to be full of fun, laughter and making memories! YOLO, right? So do that! Can I help you think about that a little differently? God says ‘you only live once’- do it right. Put the time into things that shows great return. A detail I didn’t share about Bonnie’s story was that in that six months when she was learning piano and God was teaching her- it didn’t just happen over night. She spent HOURS practicing and God leading her through different notes and giving her songs. (Think of a video montage here: playing piano, writing lyrics, hours of practice, not hanging out with friends to play, more piano playing) But after that little bit of time- God showed her the purpose and plan that He had marked out for her. I don’t know the plans God has for you, but He does. I don’t know what God is calling you to do, but He does. I don’t know what miracles He wants to perform through you, but He does. So, um, YOLO. Live it for Jesus.