When I was 15 years old, there was a young man in his early 20’s that offered quite of bit of time and effort in mentoring me and encouraging me. He was a leader in a youth group that I regularly attended and he walked the walk as well as any person I had met. He consistently helped me and called out the best in me. As a teenager trying to figure out who I was and where I fit, his investment in me was enormous.
We moved away and I lost touch with the man. Over the years, many of the things he encouraged me in got lost in bad choices. If you would have taken a snapshot of some of my behaviors ten years after the time in which the mentor invested in me, you might have drawn the conclusion that his effort had been a waste of time.
I connected with him through facebook a few weeks ago, after almost 30 years of no contact. The amazing thing about the situation was that we met and lived almost 1200 miles from here and now we live within a half hour of each other. The man is the Executive Director of an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and mentoring of young men who have struggled with addiction or life-controlling issues. This is an area in which I am passionate and actively engaged, so the “coincidence” of proximity and vocation leave me amazed.
Anybody who has done any youth mentoring can tell you that one of the biggest challenges is staying motivated even when a young person messes up following significant investment into their lives. The temptation is to take a snapshot at a point in time and determine whether or not the individual or the mentoring was successful. The problem with that is that the story isn’t over yet.
My 30 year journey proves that none of us can be judged by a moment in time. The things that Cary imparted in me stayed with me even in times when I was not immediately considering them. The seeds had taken root and eventually bore fruit, although but for the facebook connection Cary would never have had an opportunity to know the outcome. His steadfastness in his calling has undoubtedly produced numerous men and women who have benefitted from his investment. His Trust in the Truth and willingness to carry that Truth as an ambassador has resulted in Eternal consequences.
None of us want to be judged at our lowest points, yet so many of us are quick to draw conclusions about the core of a person based on their worst mistakes. So many times, there are labels such as “loser,” “thug” or something related which fail to recognize the potential in others. If the potential is called out without a need to see an immediate return on the investment, the long-term impact would be significant. If there were an intentional effort to speak Truth into even the least of society, the least of society would carry the seeds of Promise that might also take root and bloom into what they were intended to be in the first place.