Wise Beyond Their Years
When we think of a mentor, we often picture someone older than our own age. A mentor is someone we look up to and model after, so shouldn’t our mentor have more life experience and a few more gray hairs? The answer is no.
Mentoring is an understanding between two people. It is a way to learn from someone who possesses qualities that we would like to have. Age doesn’t matter. What matters is that our mentor gives us the desire to be a better person.
I have been impacted by many older mentors throughout my life, but the mentors who have influenced me the most are younger than I am. My little sister, Beth, is 13 years old. Not only do we have a significant age difference, but also completely opposite personalities. To give you an idea, Beth taught me how to put on makeup, and she is the first to change my 1960s radio station to Beyoncé or Justin Bieber.
Despite our differences, every day Beth makes me want to be a more loving person. She is at the age of middle school cliques and bullies, but I watch as she befriends everyone she meets. She taught me what it truly means to pursue your passion when she performed the role of Clara in the Nutcracker with the utmost joy and humility. Beth has been through more than the average 13-year-old, but she never lets her light burn out. She possesses a strength and inner peace that reminds me of God’s sustaining power in times of trial and hardship. Even on the darkest of days, Beth keeps pushing forward and shining her light for all who cross her path.
The young teenager I nanny for has also served as my mentor. Her mother is a Presbyterian minister and because I’m interested in becoming a pastor as well, my intention was to use this as an opportunity to gain a new mentor in the field of ministry.
What I did not realize was that 14-year-old Abigail would also point me in the right direction. Abigail has a mischievous personality and keeps me rolling on the floor with laughter. One of her latest pranks consisted of putting two dead catfish in a watermelon under her teacher’s desk. Abigail’s sense of humor has shown me that laughter really is the best medicine. It can heal even the heaviest hearts, and it binds people together.
I admire Abigail’s ability to use her gift of humor to renew and heal, but more than anything, I look up to Abigail because of her righteous and humble heart. During a recent after-school Starbucks trip, Abigail saw a homeless man she knew, so she walked over to him and greeted him by name. This is something that many adults struggle to do, let alone a teenager. It’s just one of many examples of how Abigail treats every human she encounters with equality, dignity, and respect regardless of where they come from or where they’re going. I have been deeply influenced by the vitality and selfless desire she has to make the world a better place.
Beth and Abigail embody the compassion of Christ. They have taught me, and continue to teach me, how to live a life of grace and truth through service and in relationship with others. They have shown me that sometimes the youngest mentors are the most life-changing. There is so much to learn from those younger than we are, but we often forget to listen. I challenge you to not let age be a factor in finding a mentor because the truth is, sometimes the older are not always the wiser.
Anna Grace Claunch recently joined the NorthPark staff as a summer intern. Anna Grace currently attends Rhodes College and is a rising senior majoring in Religious Studies.