One Sunday morning after church, I was chatting with Joe. He was in 7th grade at the time and he loved wrestling and playing soccer. I wrestled in my high school days and I was eager to find out how his season was progressing. I asked him how wrestling was going. He proceeded to tell me that it was terrible. He wasn’t getting any help.
The team got a new coach that year and he had never wrestled a day in his life! He was making an effort to learn by watching YouTube videos, but he had no experience. There was no longer a youth wrestling program in Joe’s town, so he was in a bad place. No one was helping him get to the next level in the sport. I asked him when he was wrestling in the coming week and I said I’d try to make it. Maybe I could coach him up a bit.
A Mentor at Heart
At heart, I’m a coach. That’s how I function best in the world. I’ve coached/mentored many young people over the years through my work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Now I coach parents as a Biblical Parenting Coach with the National Center for Biblical Parenting. And through most of those years, I also coached youth baseball in our local Little League. I tried everything to get my sons interested in wrestling, but they wanted nothing to do with it. Lol!! All they wanted to do was play baseball. So, I learned how to coach baseball.
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Boys Need Mentors
There’s a real art to being effective as coaches or mentors. It’s a lot more than just communicating information and rules. I hear a lot of coaches yelling instructions, but they never teach or demonstrate the skills they’re hoping to develop in their players.
Most boys learn best by doing. I had to learn some hard lessons about this as a father. Long lectures just aren’t very effective. Boys learn when you teach, demonstrate, watch, give feedback and encourage them. They learn a lot about sports and life by observing. Of course, this starts with our example as parents.
The big question is, “Who else are they observing?” Who are they spending time with? If we want to raise Godly boys, we need to connect them with Godly mentors. Growth and change come as we learn from others who love on us and share their life as an open book. Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute suggests that young people could benefit greatly from 5 Godly people in their life.
Let’s go back to the wrestling story and my friend Joe. I started going to Joe’s wrestling matches and we set up some training sessions after church and in his home. He had a lot of natural ability and amazing focus and tenacity. We had a great time working together. I was sitting next to his dad at one of his matches. It was a really close match and he lost in the last few seconds.
The ref made some pretty questionable calls during the match and Joe was very frustrated. He didn’t go over to shake the other coaches’ hand and he tossed his headgear across the room. His dad and I looked at each other and I then asked if he minded if I worked with Joe on this. He thought that was a great idea as part of his wrestling training.
Going deeper in our Mentorship
The Lord blessed Joanne and me with two wonderful sons. They’re adults now and they’ve become 2 of my best friends. When these guys were younger, it became apparent to me that I had an anger problem just like my father. I’m so glad that I heeded the advice of a good friend and mentor and got help. Having struggled in this area, I was in a good place to help Joe.
We decided to videotape 3 meetings so that others could benefit as well. These videos are available for you to watch on my blog. One of the things that was most helpful to Joe was memorizing Proverbs 29:11 which says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person keeps himself under control.” This was very helpful for him. It’s been a great passage for me as well in my life.
I’ve continued to mentor Joe and his brother over the past couple of years. I’ve gone to their sports and school events and we’ve planned some cool outings. We worked together on painting their gazebo and they worked for me on some projects at my home. We almost always talk before or after church on Sundays. But during those times, we always talk about important life issues and where faith and Scripture come to bear.
Do your boys have Godly mentors in their lives? Ask the Lord to provide and show you the way. I’d be very happy to interact with you as well.
Parenting Resource: Parenting is Heart Work Book and the Parenting is Heart Work Training Manual by National Center of Biblical Parenting!
Ed is married to Joanne Miller and they have two grown sons.
Ed graduated from the University of Delaware with a BAAS in Arts and Science 1977. He started as a campus staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the fall of 1977. Ed has focused on leadership development, disciple-making, evangelism and ministry training on a number of college and university campuses throughout New Jersey. He also served as the Area Director for InterVarsity in Central/South New Jersey for 14 years before becoming the Assistant Regional Director for the New York/New Jersey Region. In the regional leadership role, Ed has focused on training program development, alumni ministry and fundraising.
InterVarsity provided a number of sabbatical periods during Ed’s 30 plus years of service. He was able to do Biblical and Theological studies at Regent College in Vancouver, Alliance Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Other experiences included missions trips to Central America and urban ministry programs in New Jersey.
Ed is a good friend of Scott Turansky. He and Scott pastored a church together for eight years and their families have enjoyed living in the same neighborhood and vacationing together.
Ed leads the National Center for Biblical Parenting development of strategic partners. He’s particularly responsible for finding financial supporters who are eager to support family ministry. He is a contributing author to two Family Ministry books, teaches parenting seminars and serves as one of our Biblical Parenting Coaches.