Sufficient Grace For The Heaviest Burden- A Story Of Mentorship
“Through her service at Apex, Alathea has witnessed the immaculate work of the Lord’s redeeming power in all of their lives and rejoices in how His Holy Spirit works through her despite her shortcomings.”
Alathea Young is a worship leader, a mentor, a friend, and above all– a woman with her eyes fully set on Christ. She has a passion to serve by making a positive impact on others, especially teens and young adults through Christ. She currently mentors college youth and works at her alma mater, Cedarville University.. Interestingly enough, the genesis of her calling into youth ministry was while she was a student herself.
Alathea grew up in Massachusetts as a pastor’s kid in a very conservative household. As such, she was very conscious of avoiding any perceptions of her which could be a negative reflection on her parents. While she was typically considered a good child, the burden of other people’s expectations grew too strong for her to bear. She particularly struggled with this burden during her high school years. Thankfully this drove her deeper in her faith in Christ and eventually she was redeemed from the hold of the fear of man had on her life; Alathea now has the assurance that she no longer has to face this fear alone. Her path led her to attend Cedarville University to major in student and youth ministries. She possessed a deep passion for the Church, and a desire to mentor youth during their critical developmental years between 13-23 years of age. At these ages one tends to starts thinking abstractly on his/her own faith and values, and may be the most susceptible to peer and societal pressures. Often, teens are also vulnerable to gaining a false sense of bravado based on outward signs of adulthood. Without proper guidance and mentorship, a young person may be easily led to making reckless decisions with potentially life-altering consequences.
Having served for the high school ministry at Apex for the past 10 years, Alathea has found that most of the teenagers just wanted a judgment-free atmosphere to discuss their issues or the anxieties worrying them– “A person doesn’t necessarily need to be a licensed professional to work with kids; having an open heart and listening ear goes a long way.” During her time working with the youth group she walked alongside young girls going through heavy issues from eating disorders and abuse to self-harming and questions about their sexual orientation. Alathea even met with her students and their parents outside of the normal youth group settings to pray and just be a friend. Through her service at Apex, Alathea has witnessed the immaculate work of the Lord’s redeeming power in all of their lives and rejoices in how His Holy Spirit works through her despite her shortcomings. Alathea attests that youth ministry is a commitment to establishing a friendship and being a consistent source of encouragement and growth in Christ. This is the same commitment to discipleship Jesus required of all His disciples as their primary duty in Matthew 28.
Alathea embraces this commitment fully and truly finds joy in seeing the smallest impact of growth in people. While she seeks to mentor young ladies from not feeling burdened with the world’s expectations; she also seeks to be mentored to as well. She has seen first-hand and understands from scripture the equal importance of mentoring and being mentored (Titus 2:4-6). Thus, for the past 8 years Alathea has been intentional on meeting with an older woman to discuss a lot of her life’s decisions. Her mentor speaks truth in love which is very important to Alathea.
At the same time, Alathea does feel the heavy burden of ministry at times. Interestingly enough she likened herself to Martha, the sister of Lazarus in the Bible. Similar to Martha, Alathea has a big heart to serve but yet can feel discontented at the same time. In Luke 10:40, while Martha was serving she complained to Jesus for her sister Mary to help. Like so many of us, it’s easy to get caught up with the outward effects of Christian service instead of focusing on the inner effects and like so many of us we start comparing ourselves, which always leads to discontentment and feelings of being overwhelmed. In Alathea’s case, despite the impactful service she’s continually involved in and the mentoring she gives and receives, she expressed feelings of loneliness. Alathea states, “sometimes those who are the most active in ministry can be the most lonely.” The below excerpt attributes this dilemma to the burden of the cross and that such a feeling is to be expected as we walk the path of Christ; yet we must find joy in His grace and peace which we can find only in Him. It is that grace that makes the burden of service light.
The Bible Treasury: Vol 18, The Burden of the Cross
“The child of God who prefers the simple but infallible word of scripture to the diversified creeds of man, bolstered by custom, tradition, or convenience, must expect the isolation that invariably accompanies faithfulness. Nevertheless, the Lord is always present (even at the loneliest of times as Paul affirmed in 2 Tim 4:16-17) to give sufficient grace for the heaviest burden that may have to be borne for his sake.
Joy by no means is confined to a future Day (the returning of Christ); even now we can glory in tribulations. If in the world we have tribulation, in Him we have peace.”
Reflecting on the parallel of Martha from the Bible in John 12:1-2, we now see Martha serving again without the discontentment. So what had changed? In John 11, Jesus had shown Martha and others that He is the present-day resurrection and life– her focus had changed from the personal effects of her service to the life and restoration only Jesus can give. All things become new when we are focus fully on Christ!
A Reflection- Are you currently a mentor and being mentored to? Though the word ‘mentor’ isn’t mentioned directly in the Bible, there is a clear Biblical model for mentorship. Spend time in prayer today about entering into a mentor/mentoring relationship. Consider these steps when starting this journey.
Author- Bola Sobande
Photographer- Hilary Tebo