Cameron, the young boy I mentor, and I were standing in the aisle of a toy and craft store the other day. The Youth Mentoring Ministry had given us a model car recently and we were now ready to begin assembling it. He has never put together a model car. I’ve built nearly a hundred of them, albeit long ago.
We were discussing paint choices for our little Honda Civic rice rocket when he looked around and saw a wall stacked high with model cars, ships, tanks, airplanes, spacecraft and the like. “Wow,” he reacted. “Look at those!”
I turned around; It was like looking back through a time machine. There were the same old WWII battleships, fighter planes and army jeeps I had built, the very same street rods with flaming stripe decals and fat rear tires, and a large replica of the Saturn rocket, too. I pointed to a P-51 Mustang, the very plane I once dreamed to fly. “I had one of those hanging above my bed,” I recalled.
“Who taught you to do models?” Cameron asked.
“My dad,” I said.
Soon we were in my office over the garage, sitting at a table covered in newsprint and sorting out all the parts of our model. I explained how to read the assembly diagrams and then we finalized our color scheme. In the backyard I taught him how to paint with a spray can and not get bubbles or runs on the doors and hood. In my office I coached him not to squeeze the tube of glue so hard, and to always point an X-Acto blade away from his face. He smiled large as we completed another step and he sat the bucket seats aside for later.
An hour passed and our car engine was neatly assembled, the two-door body was painted red and we had glue smears on our fingers. We snapped chrome wheels into rubber tires, and examining the underbody, I explained how shock absorbers worked and what the transmission and driveshaft are for. Cameron absorbed it all. We were having fun.
“Now I’m understanding what I need to do when I have kids,” he said.
It took me a while to clear the lump from my throat, but when I did, right after I dropped Cameron off at his home with a promise that we would finish the model in a few days, I reached for my phone.
I called my dad.
Yes, God has indeed blessed me as I’ve worked as a mentor. I’m hard pressed to discern who’s getting more out of the experience, Cameron or me. Come to think of it, my dad is getting a little out of it too.
Consider mentoring. There’s a young boy or girl out there waiting for you.