Did you ever have a mentor through playing sports while growing up? If so, you know that mentoring a kid through sports can change a life.
A Different Path
It was a high school coach that changed Paul Henderson’s life trajectory. He wasn’t a Christian mentor, but he believed in Paul and had influence over him. He helped Paul believe that he could run at the collegiate level, and that belief changed his plans and his future.
Paul grew up in a family devoted to ministry. His grandfather was a pastor, and his father was involved in youth ministry. But it wasn’t until right before college that he fully committed his life to Christ. That changed everything for him, and it “messed up” his college plans for the best.
Because of the encouragement he received from his coach, he pursued running in college. He walked on to the VCU track team, and from there, he got involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That path led to working with FCA for eight years, where he began speaking to college athletes up and down the Atlantic region and had the opportunity to speak at three NFL chapel services.
From the Track to the Classroom
Every staff member at Elijah House Academy is assigned a student to mentor and meet with regularly. As Dean of Students, Paul meets with all students as needed.
Recently, a staff member approached him with a particular circumstance. A second-grader was finding himself in a lot of trouble and headed down the path of having to leave the school if he didn’t change his course. The two invested in him, and the child opened up to Paul, talked honestly, and took responsibility for his behavior. It led to a drastic change in the boy’s life.
It Begins at Home
In every avenue that Paul is able to apply mentorship principles, it requires his time, care, intentionality, consistency, and high expectations for himself and others. He abides by the old truism that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” With a house full of boys, Paul has a full-time job applying these principles under his own roof. “I am my children’s primary discipler.” He and his wife, Kierra, are thankful for children’s ministry programs and school mentors, but the couple takes on primary responsibility for the discipleship of their boys.
Because of the mentorship of a coach that changed one decision in Paul’s life, he is now discipling the next generation on the field, at school, and at home.
Have you considered becoming a coach? If you find yourself spending a lot of time watching your kids play their chosen sports, think about how you could turn that time into an investment in your child as well as others on their team. It could be an effective way to maximize your time if you’re going to be on the field with your kids anyway. I’ve seen a number of dads who don’t consider themselves experts dedicate themselves to an Upward team, a YMCA team, or even volunteering at a camp experience so they can open a doorway with children and families in their community.
I’ve talked about my high school football coach before. Like Paul’s coach, he didn’t claim to be a believer, but he influenced me in a positive way. Even if your time volunteering with the kids isn’t wholly dedicated to spiritual mentoring, you never know when something you say or do will be the encouragement a child needs.
Take the initiative, the bold step to make yourself available. You never know the lasting impact it will have.