You are never too old or young to be a mentor.
Tonight, I am heading to Wisconsin to help with a retreat for 8th graders from different middle schools who will be attending the same high school together. I am going with 5 other students from my school. Throughout the course of the evening, we will be giving talks, leading small groups, playing games, eating pizza, watching movies, praising the Lord, having Confessions, going to Mass, and more. This will be my 3rd opportunity helping to chaperone/lead this retreat in my time at St. Thomas. It is such a blessing to have this opportunity which is a 1x/year commitment every May...and what generosity that 5 other students were willing to come with me too!
Without a doubt, we each will have a unique opportunity to mentor tonight. That is, to be a witness and show, by example, that living a life for the Lord and being in relationship with Him is the best decision that you can make. I look forward to the conversations, the questions, and the fun that we will be sharing tonight. I know that I might have something to teach, and to learn and I am very excited to be a part of this overnight retreat. (even though it means I'll be EXHAUSTED tomorrow morning making the 2 hr drive back)
When I look back on my faith journey, I would not be where I am today (which is far from perfect, but I am striving towards Him) if it were not the presence of genuine mentors who cared immensely about me. Sometimes you meet someone and they make an impression on you.
When I went to "One Bread, One Cup" a liturgical leadership conference at St. Meinrad's in S. Indiana http://www.saintmeinrad.edu/oboc/default.aspx when I was in high school, I made friends with mentors (peers) and college-aged mentors. The retreat was based around learning how to serve at your church back at home, learning different lay ministries (music, lectoring, altar serving, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Homiletics, etc), learning about spirituality types/exploring different prayer forms, and building community with young Catholics from around the country. At that point, I liked being a Catholic and I enjoyed the friendships I had at Church but I did not really have a deep conviction of faith. Seeing these other young people with so much JOY for Jesus Christ left a deep mark on me that made me ask, "How can I have that?" And so I prayed, discerned, watched, and talked...and fully gave myself to the Lord during Eucharistic Adoration the night before we left the conference. My small group's intern kept in touch with me through e-mail, and because of her, I ended up considering, applying for, and attending the University of St. Thomas (where she was currently a student).
Whether its your siblings, the young people you lead in a small group, your friends, the people standing in the movie theatre line with you, we all have a chance to be a mentor. While obviously, the mentors that are most influential are those that commit to us in the long-term, short experiences like this retreat tonight will make a difference. When you surrender yourself to the Lord, He will use you as His instrument for good. Never be afraid to stand for the Lord!