In honor of National Mentoring Month, we asked STRIVE mentor Jerry Maynard, Jr. to reflect on his 3+ years working with 12th grader Cardale Emmery. STRIVE matches high school boys with Christian adult male mentors for all four years of high school and the first year post high school. Over those 5 years they build a relationship, create and work towards goals, and learn about God’s love together. Here’s what Jerry had to say:
How has your relationship with Cardale changed over the last 3.5 years?
It feels like our relationship has grown so much over the past 3.5 years. In the beginning our times together were primarily me asking Cardale a question and him answering briefly. Now we just talk. He jumps in the car and starts telling me about something new. We talk about school, relationships, TV shows, Jesus, music, Fortnite, and everything in between. A snapshot of our relationship for me will always be when he asked me on his football senior night to accompany him on the field with his mom. I’ve come from brief exchanges to being able to stand with him in important moments in his life.
A snapshot of our relationship for me will always be when he asked me on his football senior night to accompany him on the field with his mom.
What are your favorite things to do with Cardale?
My favorite things to do with him right now include playing video games at my house, particularly Madden or FIFA. He may beat me one of these days. I also enjoy just having chances to talk about life over a Cook Out tray or Roots bowl and getting a chance to support him at a football game or drama performance. More recently, it has been a joy to be a part of helping Cardale prepare for getting his license soon. I’ll admit I was a little nervous at first for my car but he has quickly shown me I have nothing to worry about when he is behind the wheel.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a mentor?
The most rewarding thing has been to see Cardale grow and mature into the high school senior he is now. I was initially interested in the STRIVE program because of the four-year commitment and it really has been a privilege to walk with Cardale through his time in high school. I can see now the ways I have influenced him but also the ways he has influenced me over the years that we have been together.
What is the hardest thing about being a mentor?
I think the hardest thing for me has been to consistently help Cardale move towards his goals that he wants to pursue. Naturally, I am not very goal-oriented, so that comes out in our relationship. In connection with that it has also been difficult at times to find the balance of encouraging Cardale but not trying to control ultimately what decisions he wants to make.
I know from personal experience that mentoring not only is a way to serve and love others, but it shapes the mentor as well.
What do you say to people considering being a mentor?
Do it. It won’t always be the most convenient or sunshine and rainbows but committing to something like mentoring is worth it. I know from personal experience that mentoring not only is a way to serve and love others, but it shapes the mentor as well. You give and receive in a mentoring relationship.
What is the best advice you can give a new mentor?
Be patient. You can ruin a relationship very fast, but it takes time to build a quality relationship with someone. Early on I would say just make yourself available, be consistent, and listen well to your new mentee. Lastly, ask God how you could love them well in the beginning.
Featured photo courtesy of Jared McComb Photography