This afternoon a parent came by my office with a request, it’s a request that I get quite often. She was asking me for a mentor for her daughter. It seems like an easy answer, but it really isn’t. I’m a youth pastor with plenty of volunteers who love middle schoolers. Why wouldn’t I want to assign one of them to her daughter? So, what did I do? I said “No.” (well not exactly) Here’s why:

Most of the time a parent who asks for a mentor is coming to you because there is a crisis in their child’s life and they don’t know how to handle it. They believe that a mentor will be the solution to the problem and be able to fix their child. There are some great mentor programs out there, but my experience that in the church forced mentorships don’t develop the intimacy and staying power as natural relationships. This is why I said, “no” to her request.

Instead, I asked her to bring her daughter to one of our small groups (which she excitedly agreed to do). This to me was a much better solution. In a small group her daughter will get to experience community with other middle school girls who love Jesus. She will also get to build a relationship with an adult who wants to spend time with her instead of one who is randomly assigned to spend time with her. This is a much more natural way to bring about a discipleship relationship.

The big idea is this. Sometimes parents want you to fix their kids, but you can’t. Sometimes a parent wants a band-aid for their child, but they need a transformation. Sometimes you will need to say no, but you will have to give a loving and sensitive solution.