Modern Youth: A generation yearning for mentors.
Once when I was a child and had transferred to a new school, two boys made it their hobby to harass me every lunch time and evening. For half a term, they made me feel and live like a guilty child. They set the rules that I had to follow both at school and in the neighbourhood, and appointed themselves as cops to watch over me. Looking at them, following them, being on my own without them and even failing to talk to them were unforgivable crimes.
One afternoon as I was tilling the kitchen garden, the bad boys came for me. They had secretly arranged a fight for me with some boys and I didn't like it. This time round, being within my home compound, I reasoned I could easily dash into the house for safety. Unfortunately I hadn't reached the door when the boys started throwing stones.
As I headed to the bed room, dad intercepted me. There was anger on his face: "What kind of man are you to show others your back? If you run away from them today, what will you do tomorrow? How do you hope to live, boy, if your style is cowardice?" he charged at me.
Frankly, this was a side of dad that I had never known. Unlike other times when he urged peace in the neighbourhood, this time round he commanded me to go out and fight! I obeyed. From that day on, the burying stopped.
For the modern youth, life is a tough battle against a myriad of evils. We fight everyday against negative peer influence and desires that don not edify God. In our spiritual lives, as well as in our quest for success in careers and business, we fight even more and need empathetic and strong willed people to nurse our wounds.
It is unfortunate that the gap between the elderly and the youth in our churches has never been wider; thanks to the many pressures that life has put on us. We get bruised and hurt in our quest for life partners and in our struggles to survive in our jobs in today's secular world.
Sometimes we feel ill equipped for the battle but we soldier on nevertheless, for lack of a mentor who has been there before, faced the challenge and conquered. As a result, we have stumbled where we should have been strong and lost battles we should have won.
Looking at the many challenges that we face gives me the conviction that enough is enough; we can not make it on our own! We can preach to ourselves, yes, but we can not counsel ourselves on issues beyond our experience and understanding. We cannot hold forums where we brand some sins as relative and others absolute; neither can we lock ourselves in a new age and assume the words of Ecclesiastes 1:9 "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" do not exist.
If the above scripture is true - that what we are going through today is the same thing that those elder than us went through in their times - then there is much we can learn from them. But it is unfortunate that the very passion with which we love pleasure is the same with which we loathe taking responsibility for the consequences of our acts.
Fear of being corrected has led to the current situation whereby few young people have respectable adult friends, but seek them only in times of need. We fear being followed up, and in so doing, we have blocked channels through which counsel and wisdom from willing mentors could reach us.
Having taken this route, the biggest question now is whether we realise just how much we need mentors, and how willing we are to accept counsel. Going back to my childhood anecdote, I am glad that dad never asked whether I was in the mood to fight. He met me halfway the room and challenged me to return to the boys and sort out whatever issues there were.
In the book of Hosea 4:6 the Bible says: "my people perish for lack of knowledge." We could be facing hardships in life but have never known that besides presenting them before God in prayer, we need someone to walk through the storms with us.This is echoed in Proverbs 29:18a which says: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
In the absence of someone who has gone through what we go through today and made it, who will help us set visions for a brighter future?
Hard as we might deny it, we need spiritually mature role models. We need people we can confide in and listen to without being intimidated, people we can walk through hard times with and not feel like a burden, as well as people who will not judge, but correct us in wisdom when we go wrong. In a sense, we yearn for spiritual parents and a place we can call home, though away from home.
First Published in the July 2007 issue of God's Champions magazine, Nairobi, Kenya.
© Copyright 2016 John Wanjora. All rights reserved.