Just before Christmas, I had a conversation with the current director of a post-prison ministry called FreedomWorks. We discussed the impact that other people have in our lives when they intentionally speak into our lives even in the smallest ways. This man also teaches a class at Northwestern College.
Each semester, he poses a question to students, “Who made an impact on your life as you were growing up?” His students often can name 3-5 people without pausing to think. When he poses the same question to men in prison, most cannot even name 1 person. And – more startlingly (in my opinion), many do not even understand the question.
The Search Institute, a secular research and curriculum non-profit located in Minneapolis, has developed a list of 40 common sense “developmental assets” that assist youth in becoming successful adults. Asset #3 states that a young person receives support from three or more nonparental adults. Asset #14 states that the parents and other adults in the lives of youth model positive, responsible behavior. Essentially, the Search Institute has put a secular stamp on what we already know in the Church.
The Bible bursts with examples of older people mentoring youth: Eli mentored Samuel; Naomi mentored Ruth; Elizabeth mentored Mary; and Paul mentored Timothy. The youth in these situations had lives that were changed because of the influence of the older people in their lives. Scripture (Exodus 20: 5-6) attests to the fact that our choices today impact future generations.
I am super excited to discuss this further this weekend at the Empower Ladies Conference 2013: Live Your Story! I get totally jazzed when I think about being able to share this truth – not only that our story matters but also that its impact on the lives of others has eternal benefits. We were created for purpose, and that purpose often means sharing of ourselves and our own stories to be there for others and – quite often – to a part of the change in others.
After we talk through this together for a brief break-out session, I hope that others will feel encouraged to share themselves with one new person – that person may not even understand the question: “Who made an impact on your life growing up?”
Side note: Registrations are still being taken for this conference. Consider if God wants you to attend the one day event in a Minneapolis suburb this weekend!