So, you’ve signed up to be a Buddy to a child who needs extra support. You’re helping them learn to love, trust, and follow Jesus. You’re helping them to be included with their peers and to feel a sense of safety when they’re at church. These are just amazing, amazing things! What if you could partner with your little buddy’s parents outside of church, too? You can—and it’s probably way simpler than you were thinking.
First, why do parents need other voices speaking into their child’s life?
At LifeKids, we often say we partner with parents to lead kids to become fully devoted followers of Christ. A LifeKids Buddy has a unique opportunity to partner with parents and become a spiritual mentor to a child who especially needs their Buddy’s voice and influence.
Kids with disabilities often have many adult voices in their lives encouraging their physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. They need someone who will support their parents in fostering spiritual development, too.
Kids with various disabilities or kids who come from hard places often have many adult voices in their lives encouraging their physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. They may be on a first-name basis with their pediatricians, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, special educators, physical therapists, case workers, etc. But, too often, there aren’t other voices speaking into their spiritual development.
Here are some ways you can further your role as a Buddy to become a spiritual mentor.
- Talk to the parent. Let them know you’d like to be a spiritual mentor to their child. Ask them if you can start taking an active role as a godly leader in their life.
- If you haven’t already, exchange numbers so you can send encouraging texts, songs, or Bible verses for parents to read to their child from you.
- Offer to listen. Tell the parents you’d like them to feel free to call you if their child ever wants to talk something out. Are the parents working through a discipline challenge? They can call you so you can speak some encouragement to their child to follow God’s path and obey their mom and dad! Is the child going through a patch where they’re especially lonely or anxious? Remind parents you’re only a phone call away and would be happy to talk to their child and remind them how much both you and Jesus love them!
- Ask to be invited to special events in your little buddy’s life.
- Show up! Once you’re invited, make an effort show up if you can every now and then to baptism, school events, dance programs, pizza parties, basketball games, craft nights—whatever. Show your little buddy that you’re in their corner and are their fan!
- Do a Bible Plan together. What’s the Bible Plan your LifeKids room is working on this month? See if you can go through it with your little buddy! You can leave notes for them to read (or for their parents to read to them) each day.
- Pray in print. When you find yourself thinking of your little buddy and praying for them throughout the week, try typing it out and texting it to Mom and/or Dad. You can even ask them to read your prayer aloud to them.
- Check in. If your little buddy hasn’t been able to make it to see you on the weekend, send a quick text to Mom and/or Dad to read to them to let them know you missed them.
- Assume the Holy Spirit is moving in and through your little buddy. It doesn’t matter if the child you’re working with can communicate to you that they believe Jesus is God’s Son. What matters is that you’re speaking life and love to them. God knows what’s happening inside their heart, mind, and spirit.
- Be ready to receive. Read point number nine again. God will work through your little buddy to reach areas inside you that need to be reached, too. Isn’t that amazing? And you thought you were the one serving and reaching out! The way God works, you’ll receive lessons of love from Him every time you try to give. God’s just that generous with us.
You can be a very special part of the spiritual mentoring in your little buddy’s life. Parents are usually more than happy to have an additional godly partner and influence in the life of their child. And remember, God will surely work in you as you work on His behalf for others.