Trust grows best when you are willing to be vulnerable.
Mentorship often includes a process of introspection on the part of both parties involved. However, if this becomes more of a gripe session, or a time where either the mentor or the hero is overly criticized for past failures, or current struggles, then we must refocus ourselves on the primary theme of mentoring. It’s about progress, not perfection. When sharing past mistakes, the tendency of many people is to highlight their own depraved mind. Many times, this is a subconscious attempt to garner favor from one’s audience by exaggerating your vice to a ridiculous degree. However, if we are honest, accurate, and precise with our recollection of past mistakes, we are far more likely to be able to illustrate our progress. This helps your mentee/hero relate to your journey.
Growth is about progress, not perfection!
That’s a really easy thing to say, but it’s a hard theme to live out every day. I once heard a pastor speak about the concept of our choices leading us to perfection, as if it was some kind of attainable goal, but that is a falsehood of epic proportions. It’s not possible to become perfect if you aren’t already perfect. And it’s impossible to become perfect if you are already perfect.
The concept of perfection is our enemy because it supposes that there is something that I can do to achieve it. There isn’t. We’ve got to get that out of our heads!
Nowhere else is this more important than in the mentor relationship. The person who is leading out in the relationship has to understand that it is often their failures that teach the best lessons, and the one learning has to grow from their own missteps. So exposing our shortcomings is a critical part of the growth process for mentors and heroes.
However, we must caution ourselves against self-deprecation.
I try to help the young men I mentor learn from my mistakes. I try to provide them with enough context that they understand why I made the decisions I made without attempting to excuse the behavior altogether. And I’ll be honest with you, this is a really hard thing to do. Your stories have to make sense. They have to have a relatable setting for your mentee. Your motivation has to be understandable. But most of all, your failure must have consequences.
You want to display exactly what your decisions cost, and to understand how difficult it was to walk through the mess you made. You aren’t trying to convince them that you were the worst person on the planet, you want to show them that every decision we make in life has a real, and measurable cost. Your goal is to help them recognize how broken you were, and how healed you are now.
May is National Foster Care Month, a time designated to recognize foster families, volunteers, mentors, child care workers, and members of the local community who help foster children connect with area resources, and hopefully, adoptive homes! Throughout this month, you will likely see a variety of organizations making significant efforts to raise awareness about the foster communities in your area, and across the nation. I know that there are a number of organizations in the Lubbock area that serve the foster community, and I have been impressed with the work that is being done by each agency I have encountered. I think that an investment into any of our area organizations is worthwhile, and will directly benefit the foster children of our area.
As a Foster and Adoption Agency, Texas Boys Ranch consistently relies on our donors to support the ongoing ministry to our children in care. As a result, we have a variety of systems set up to make donating easy:
1. You can bring new and gently used clothing to our campus to be sorted and distributed to our kids as they have needs.
2. You can donate more worn out clothing and shoes in the Red Recycling Boxes located across the South Plains.
3. You and your church/social group can organize a resource drive through our Advancement Department.
4. You can even donate online.
Our regular supporters make it possible for us to serve our children with more than the basics. We are able to provide them with a variety of services that are not available without the help of a generous local community! We provide them with regular counseling, therapeutic indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, not to mention being able to keep the ratio of children to staff far below state regulations. Each and every resource we are given are prayerfully funneled to the children we serve. Nothing goes to waste!
But we need more than money.
Foster kids need the one thing that our society values most – time.
We have programs that only function through volunteers, and we almost never have enough volunteers to meet the needs of our students. We need: Mentors, Tutors, Homework Helpers, and Advocates. We need people who are skilled in areas like: arts and crafts, sports and recreation, music, cooking, or party planning. As a working ranch, we need people who can help out on the ranch by building fence, maintaining buildings, caring for horses and cows, mowing lawns, bailing hay, and any number of other things that have to get done so that our kids can receive the highest level of care possible.
Every time we have a volunteer provide a service, we are able to provide more for our children. Because the fact of the matter is, our kids will benefit more from seeing how much you care for them, than they ever will from the act itself.
If we ever hope to help these kids break out of the generational cycles that led them here, we will need them to meet you!
More information about how you can get involved in the lives of our children can be found at www.texasboysranch.org