“Ah, I don’t like Mr Smith, bruv, he’s a ****!”
What a powerful line to start a blog on! However, this is near enough a direct quote from a mentoring session I recently had *. My response, to this line, was a mere smile. The young man immediately apologised “Oh, sorry, sir! I shouldn’t have said that!” My response, “Don’t worry, you carry on. Say how you feel”.
It is perhaps controversial that, in an education based setting, I didn’t immediately rebuke the young man’s language. Nor did I tell him off for his blatant lack of respect for a senior member of staff. However, in that moment, I knew that the young man in question trusted me enough to say exactly how he felt, using language he would use around his closest friends and family. I had gone beyond being a figure of authority, or even a teacher to this young man. He truly sensed the trust that had built in the relationship, and felt free to speak his mind. In its own right, this was powerful moment. **
A quote that has been doing the rounds in the Kick London office’s recently is “They will never care about what you know, until they know you care”. I think if we take just a moment to ponder just how profound this statement is, it can truly take us to a place of understanding firstly, the importance of using sport in mission, and secondly, the impact we can have on a young person’s life once a relationship has been built.
At Kick London, we have a heart for allowing young people to access the saving message of the Gospel. The message we want to share is that God loves you so much, that He gave the world Jesus. That would go down the category of “What we know”.
If the quote above is to be believed, young people will never access that message from any one of us until they understand that we care about them. As coaches, mentors, youth workers, volunteers (and any other job role that may put you in the path of a young person), we can show our care for that young person by simply engaging in their interests (chiefly, football), or taking time to get to know what’s going on in their life. I don’t have a statistic to back this up, but I believe that young people truly know you care about them when you do something as simple as remembering their name!
Jesus himself was all about relationships. Sure, he did the mega-preach to thousands at times, but in the poignant moments of his ministry, Jesus would sit, eat dinner with people, go to their houses, and invest time in the individual. He would even call them friends. Jesus knew that shouting a message, without a relationship, would go no further than noise into the wind. However, a message shared with love, to a person who knew Jesus cared for them, would stand the test of time.
If sport can be the thing that gets a young person to engage with you, and you have an opportunity to show them that you care for them, you stand far more chance of sharing a life changing message with them; either behavioural or spiritual, but none the less, transformational.
Bobby Moore and Pele, a relationship built on mutual respect.
* The word used is unimportant, and of course, the teacher’s name has been changed.
** It is worth noting that with further discussion, the student’s attitude to the member of staff was addressed, as is the appropriate structure with a behavioural intervention/mentoring session. However, the student may not have respected my opinion, or behavioural intervention if he didn’t trust or respect me.