I See You

I attended a Youth Ministry Symposium at Gordon College the other day.  Andrew Root, the author or Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry, was the presenter and he was addressing the topic of Relational Youth Ministry.  Something he said has really stuck with me.  When dealing with conflict and helping teenagers deal with hurt, disappointment and other such emotions we can’t be afraid to speak what we see in them.  Our role, at times, is to look beyond the facade that they wear to look as though they have it together and point out what we see in their lives.

This can often times be difficult because we fear that the teenager may push us away or be upset by what we say.  We must push beyond this fear and speak to the heart of the matter.  There are times when a teenager will bring on a victim mentality and take the perspective that everyone is against them.  When we see areas in their life where they are bringing the pain and conflict upon themselves it is our responsibility to push them out of the victim cry and into the reality of who they are.  We can’t be afraid to say, “I see you.”  When we see things in their lives that bring upon these conflicts we have to allow ourselves the freedom to speak to these issues in order to try and bring about lasting change in their behavior that will bear good fruit in their lives.

I’ve walked down these roads.  I’ve had some teenagers walk away from direct relationship with me because I have been the one in their life to say the hard things that needed to be said.  Over the ten year span that I have been pastoring youth I have had some of the youth that had walked away come back and thank me for saying what I said to them.  There are others who have not – I still haven’t given up hope that my words did ring true in their ears after thinking it over – but I will not allow fear to keep me from speaking the truth in love to young people.  One trap that far too many leaders fall into is the road of friendship.  We need to be very clear.  Our role is not so much as a friend as it is a pastor and leader in their life.  Relationships bring about trust and care but to define these relationships as friendships can blur the lines of where we will go with youth and what we are free to speak to them.  Before even thinking about having these conversations with teenagers you must first have a relationship established.  The old adage, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is absolutely correct.  Yes, say the things that must be said and don’t be afraid to “call a thing what it is” as Luther says.  But first we must know that teenagers are open to us speaking to them in this way.

We owe it to the youth that we lead and pastor to say the hard things with the ongoing prayer that they will hear and accept the things that we say to them because they know we have their best interest in mind.  Before even thinking about having these conversations with teenagers you must first have a relationship established.  The old adage, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is absolutely correct.  Yes, say the things that must be said and don’t be afraid to “call a thing what it is” as Luther says.  But first we must know that teenagers are open to us speaking to them in this way.  Build the relationships with them and you will have an open door to their hearts that will allow you to help them with the issues in their lives.

Ever had to speak something to a teen that went poorly?  Ever had it well received?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: