It’s Wednesday morning at 11:15 a.m. The freshman class pours into the gym with some juniors and seniors thrown into the mix. Coach hands me the mic, and I ask the students, all 100+ of them, to circle at half court. As they settle, I ask the ladies to pick out the Mr. Ladies man. Several of the girls point to a Justin Bieber lookalike.
He’s asked to step up and we tie the end of a yarn ball around his wrist. After we loosely tie the end of a yarn ball around his wrist, we go to the girl closest to him and, in sequence, wrap the yarn around her wrist.
After everyone is connected, we ask them to sit down and we start reading some Centers for Disease Control stats on risky teenage sexual behavior out loud. “Did you know that in 2013, half of all the 20+ million new STD cases reported in America involved 15- to 24-year-old’s…?”
After we share the stats, I begin to paint the picture of how our ladies man went “roping” with one chick who then “roped” with another and so on and so forth. Following me? The students followed. They followed so much that one of the upperclassmen bursts out, “It was never made for this!” You could hear a pin drop. The silence is deafening.
Next, we split up by mentor groups. In groups, the upperclassmen mentors lead a discussion on best practices for dating and how to avoid risky situations in dating relationships.
Oh, by the way, this really happened one morning, April of this year, at a high school in north central Alabama.
The power of a relationship:
Relationships are a powerful thing. Like a natural force of nature or an unexplained phenomenon, the influence and power that a person can wield with the heart of their friend is amazing, almost beyond belief. Think about it even in terms of when Jesus walked the earth. There were all sorts of people who witnessed his miracles, who realized that there was something very different about this guy, but only those closest to Him stood up to be heard and accounted for when His name came into question.
Case in point, remember in Acts when Peter stood before the courts? Surely there were people all around who had an idea of what was going on. It’s even quite feasible that a generous number of them had either seen or heard Jesus speak from a distance. Yet, it was Peter who stood up and defied the status quo on behalf of his friend, Jesus. A friend is a powerful thing to be reckoned with.
Peer-to-peer mentoring is that. It’s taking this powerful force of influence through peer relationships to be very intentional about conveying life-changing truths. Isn’t that what we want to accomplish? I think it’s safe to say that so much of what we labor to do is so that students learn how to make better and healthier decisions for the best possible long-term outcomes for their lives.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk peer mentoring: its benefits, effects, and the next steps for you to bring this culture-changing program to your area.