So apparently tomorrow for means days later…..
I talked in my last post about the right kinds of relationships that Jesus formed and how we can make the wrong relationships for the wrong reasons. While those relationships are not evil they are certainly more edifying to our self than to the Kingdom.
In my ministry obviously I want to build relationships with all students and all parents but that blanket approach yields minimal results and impact. I want to be strategic and smart about the time I am pouring into a students life so as to multiply the kingdom. With that in mind let me address the types of students I have encounter and the types of relationships I build. I want to talk about the least critical and move into the most critical.
–The strong Christian student with two godly parents– I have several of these in my group and they are all precious to me and my relationship focus with them is to empower them to continue on the path to godliness and to encourage them to stand out as leaders. I intentionally spend the least time with these students( least doesn’t mean none) because I have confidence in them.
–The strong Christian student from a broken home but with at least one godly parent– These require a little more time and energy than the previous because they are dealing with hard questions and deep hurt. However, they have a good background to hold them accountable and help them deal with issues. My time is spent as an outlet for these students to deal and vent their pain and anguish but at the same time I am pushing them to keep their pain from deterring them from their walk. I find ways for them to further their walk by encouraging them to develop themselves as leaders and servants
–The student with troubles at home- Sadly, this is a very common student. This student is one you will lose quickly if you do not invest. They are in church but they are being distracted by problems and because of their spiritual immaturity they are struggling handling those issues. It does not matter the number of parents at home or if the parents are involved in church this student has made a profession, is attending regularly and is involved with your programming but is teetering on the edge.
–The student with post Christian parents– These Students have a good home and their parents have strong values and were raised in the church but to them the church is just an option and is blown off in favor of other activities. These students are the hardest to spend time with because they are never around but you know that without reaching them they will likely grow up to and never go to church because they see no need. Sometimes however you will have a student that breaks the mold within the family and desires to be at church and is being used by God. These kids need your time!! Do not waste any opportunity to share with them and develop your relationship with them.
– The student in a broken home with no parents involved in church– I will stop short of saying no “godly” parent but if parents are not in church it does not bode well for their spiritual growth. What you see from these students is sporadic attendance and lackadaisical commitment to the ministry because their is no reinforcement at home to attend church.
–The male student with an absent/abusive father– These next two break my heart. A young man needs a positive role model in his life and he longs to receive love and acceptance from his father but when that father is not present or is abusive a whole host of issues presents themselves. Self esteem, rebellious behavior, anger, lashing out, lack of motivation etc. all rear their ugly heads in this situation I try my best to be there for these guys spend time with them encourage them do things with them that their dads should be doing with them. Ultimately becoming that role model that the student so desperately needs.
–The female student with and absent/abusive father– This is the most dangerous and hardest relationship to cultivate and navigate. Girls need their daddies and with out them they become self destructive. They long for the affection that their dads owe them and when it is not available their self esteem and self worth bottoms out. After they lose their worth they become free game for any man who gives them faux affection. This leads to multiple sexual partners at an early age and further damage to their self worth. These girls are in our youth groups and many times very active and that is where the danger begins. Many times that same need for affection leads to an infatuation with a youth leader or youth pastor and attempts at cultivating a relationship is misconstrued. This is trouble for all parties involved and can ruin a youth workers life and career. Be very careful with this relationship. The best approach is a team approach typically with the youth pastor AND his wife together investing in that student helping to build confidence and understanding and helping them find their worth in Christ.
This is a lot of information and I could probably write twice as much but this is my approach. Do you differ do you change it up? Do you reverse it? I am interested in hearing your thoughts.