The Imperfect Youth Leader

Everyone wants to be heard and known. We all have the desire to be understood in a light that doesn’t make us seem crazy. Now magnify these needs by a thousand and you have teenagers. Two main things that teens need in their lives are number 1: JESUS and number 2: imperfect adults who care about them. The reason I say imperfect is that one of the biggest disservices we do to the youth population in the church is making them think we as the adults have it all together. For some reason, youth leaders think that if we pretend we’ve never had a beer, said a curse word, or made a bad choice as a teen (or even as an adult for that matter), that we are somehow painting them the right picture of the Christian life. Now there are some adults who haven’t done any of the aforementioned things and that is awesome but I would take a guess that many have done at least one if not all of those things. When we start to be fake with students that’s when they start to be fake with us. I am crazy passionate about youth ministry and youth leaders that can really help the student along in their faith journeys. I have run into lots of different types of youth leaders of the last five years and early on I decided to be the imperfect youth leader. The one that maybe parents didn’t always understand but students did. These are 7 things that I have found to help be an imperfect youth leader.  

1) Connect 

Before you start throwing scripture at them, you need to connect with students. Connection is key in becoming a godly influence in the life of students and young adults. Find common ground. Relate to them on their terms at their level, not yours.  

2) Listen 

There is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening should be followed by an action. Remember their birthdays so you can mail them a card. Remember that time they told you their candy and bring them some to cheer them up or celebrate an accomplishment.  

3) Invest 

Put in the time. Time is one of your most valuable gifts to give because you can never get that time back. Students truly appreciate that sacrifice of choosing to spend time with them then at another commitment. Also the more you invest in them the more trust they develop which can lead to a stronger godly influence in their life.  

4) Authenticity 

Be who you are. This has a dual purpose. By being who God created you to be they see you living out all that the Christian life has to offer. Teens already tend to feel a sense of outsiderness and awkwardness with you, so what a beautiful picture it can be to see someone living out their unique brand of awesomeness! God made us all with quirks, unique personalities, and passions. Show those things to your students. Let them know its okay to be who they are.  

5) Share 

If you aren’t letting students get to know you then they are never going to trust you. Not only will they not trust with the easy stuff but they certainly aren’t going to come to you when it matters most. It’s important to listen as mentioned above but it is also crucial to share (when appropriate).  

6) Use Social Media 

This can be a hot-button issue for some church leaders but I feel that when used properly social media can really proud great insights into your student’s lives. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat can provide you little snapshots into their personalities and what matters to them. Nuggets of truth and cries for help can be seen in social media postings. Social media posts can help with conversation starters because you have seen a glimpse into their weeks  

7) Stay the Course 

Don’t abandon them after high school. Just as they needed you in those formative years of finding their faith, your students need you in that next stage of life as well. One of my favorite things to do is send handwritten letters within those first few months of college to let them know how much I miss them, I’m still thinking about them, and I’m still here. Stay with them!! 

 

Perfect people don’t bring students to Christ, imperfect people do. 

 

in grace and love,

amber

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I am not alone

I’m sitting in my pajamas covered up with a quilt I made drinking coffee and reflecting on what I’ve been feeling lately. God has put on my heart to really examine myself and be honest with my feelings and today I feel like others may be able to find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. The enemy uses isolation to make me feel like I have no one to turn to because no one has been there , but 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse that has taught me that I’m not alone.

When most people think temptation I feel like they maybe think about sexual temptation but we can be tempted in lots of different ways by lots of different things. One definition of the word temptation is “a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise”. For me something that I do is unwise is to doubt who God made me to be and to think I am less then a daughter of the most high. I read in a book (perhaps by Lysa Terkeurstt) that constantly thinking negatively of yourself is still thinking of yourself. So while I constantly think to myself I’m not a good enough wife, mother, daughter, friend, i’m still thinking of myself. In the days of Facebook, Instagram stories, and Snapchat  I get to caught up in what I don’t have and who I’m not that I forget to thankful for all that I have and all that I am. God is faithful! God is the midst of everything, even my personal chaos.

As believers I think we get caught up portraying the Christian life and not walking it out. You see when Jesus got a hold of my heart and I was so excited to learn more and to grow and build community in Christ. Now I feel like portraying the Christian life has clouded the redemption of the cross. What I found is that just because you know Jesus doesn’t mean that everything is magically perfect. The longer I live in Christ the stronger I feel to live in authenticity. We need to be authentic in the all aspects of life. That doesn’t mean airing all your dirty laundry but instead showing others they are not alone. We have the chance to comfort each other in our struggles and celebrate in our triumphs. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13  says that there is “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity”.  I won’t be tempted by something that isn’t common to the rest of humanity which means I am not alone. You are not alone. We have brothers and sisters in Christ. Have the courage to be authentic in your life, it can be an encouragement to you and to others.

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Charges but no Offense

Last Friday I went to a bible study and we read a portion of Acts. When we discussed what we observed from reading this passage what jumped out at me is that charges were brought against Paul but he had committed no offense. I started to think about my teenage years and how I would believe anything anyone said about me. If someone said something negative that wasn’t true after continually hearing it I would just start to accept as truth. This cycle of thinking still haunts me as an adult. “Charges” but no offense. Acts 25: 7 really stood out to me.

Just because someone brings a “charge” against you doesn’t make it so. Charges were brought against Paul but with no proof. Paul had committed no wrong doing. He stood firm in his faith. He knew who he was in Christ and what the truth really was. As Christians we have to remember we are who God says we are, not the world. We are his sons and daughters. Another thing that came to mind while reading was what God can do with you and for you when he gets ahold of you. Paul used to be a persecutor of Christians and then he became a champion of the faith. God can transform anyone for his glory. I need that reminder so much today. The past, the “charges”, the world doesn’t define me but Christ does. Be strong today for God is fighting for you.

in grace and love,

amber

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Obedience

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Over last year God has been working on my obedience to Him. Not just in some aspects of my life but all of them. What I’ve learned so far is that the spirit of obedience is most necessary when it’s the most difficult. When God calls you to do something that you love and want to do, it’s simple. But when he’s called you to be obedient in adverse circumstances that’s when your spirit it stretched the most. It makes me think of my kids and if I ask them something easy to be obedient to like go pick out a cookie they’re going to willingly do it but when I say hey go clean your room there is resistance because it’s not with they want to do. The same scenario can be applied to us as believers, there’s resistant in being obedient to God’s calling when it’s something that we don’t want to do. My life looks very different then it did before Jesus got ahold of me. Being apart of HIS kingdom means following HIS will. I might not always want to do to what he is leading me to but I know that the Holy Spirit would not lead me against His will or against His word. His is continually stretching me and pushing me to become who he has called me to be, my job in all that is to get out of his way and be obedient.

 

in grace and love,

amber

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Boldness

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Today I was doing my write the word journal  and a verse that continues to speak to me was included in the today’s verses of Hebrews 10:35-39. After I wrote down the verses for today and moved on to the next page I became flooded with thoughts. I really feel that is the main purpose of the journal, to get you thinking about scripture and how it applies to your life. Right off the bat I wrote BE BOLD!! God wants us to be bold in his name. Who benefits when I retreat into myself and shy away from my faith and purpose? the devil (he does not need any help from me). As Christians we need to be confident in the Lord, His truths, and His promises. He is Holy, He is sovereign, He is Lord. I need to remember I am a daughter of the most high God.

I wilt at the sign of darkness instead of standing tall to catch the light. I need to BE BOLD, STAND TALL. The darkness is not our chance to wilt and die but to stand up in faith and love. God is light. God is love. When the darkness of the world creeps in I must be bold in my faith and my love of Christ. I need to stand tall to let the sun reach my face so that I grow in the love of Jesus.

in grace and love,

amber

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Overwhelmed

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I am typing this bundled up on my couch feeling sicker than I have in awhile, a double ear infection and a gnarly cold will do that to you. The word that has been constantly at the forefront of my mind in the last 8 weeks is OVERWHELMED. I am a person who doesn’t mind to busy and generally prefers to be doing something but lately even I have felt the weight of this kind of schedule and lifestyle. We have been living at a break neck pace for months and I can’t keep up. Typically after I dwell on the thought of being overwhelmed I hear God say, “BE STILL”. I have forgotten what should be at the forefront of my mind HIM. In all the ups and downs, scheduling conflicts, and strain to family time I forgot that, “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14

This verse draws my attention to that the fact that the Lord is with me and he will stand up for me. The biggest struggle for me is being still. I need to be still in all aspects of my life. I keep trying to take on all the hustle and bustle by myself and shelving my time with God because I tell myself that X,Y, & Z are more important, and if I don’t get this done so and so will be disappointed, and if I don’t sell this we can’t pay this off. The list goes on and on. The Lord is present in all these things regardless if I acknowledge it the difference is if and when I acknowledge Him in all aspects of my life then I am inviting Him into a relationship. A relationship where He is for me not against me and I no longer have to shoulder my burdens alone.

 

in grace and love,

amber

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Rise Up

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I just returned from a long weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina where we attended 2 days of Code Orange revival. God used this revival to encourage my spirit and I have tons to unpack from this trip. The first thing that I heard that really stuck with me was something Dharius Daniels said (I took two pages of notes during his sermon), “Could it be that God will allow us to live on whatever level we settle for.” This struck me so deep that I even wrote MIND BLOWN in my notes next to this quote. I struggle a lot with how I see myself. Often beating myself up with how I could’ve done something better or said something differently and this has really impacted how I see myself and how I view what happens to me. Love others is something I often tell my kids and is preached about on Sunday mornings but loving myself needs to happen first. I need to start seeing myself as God sees me. I am a child of God. I have been settling for who I think am versus rising up to the challenge of who God has called me to be. He didn’t call me be self loathing and critical. I need to RISE UP to God’s call not settle for the low opinion I have of myself.  The song Rise Up has been on repeat for me and these lyrics help me remember that I am to serve God regardless of bad days & self loathing:

I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

I have been living in my doubt and not in God’s delight. Psalm 149:4 says, “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” He delights in us and I should focus on His image of me not that image I’ve let the world create of me. I am a daughter of the most High God and today I am rising up to be who has he called me to be for the glory of his kingdom. 

 

in grace and love,

amber

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Mind Your Business

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This morning I was working in my write the word journal this morning and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Verse 11 really was trying to tell me a lot this morning. I struggle when I read the words “quiet life” because I immediately equate a quiet life with a boring life. I know that is not what it means but that is always my first reaction to that phrase. Quiet I believe in this sense means without drama. Being a woman I feel that drama is 10x more prevalent than it is with men. Women are often portrayed as busy bodies which to extent is true but I think as Christian women we need to redefine what it looks like to befriend one another. There is a fine line between gossip and discussion and I flirt with that line often. Gossip is defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true” and discussion is defined as “the action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.” While each definition is distinct they often overlap in my mind. What needs to start happening is talking things out with one another through a Christlike lens. I know I like to get my friends opinions on what is going on in my life and 99% of the time that involves other people. How I discuss these people and the lens in which I filter my conversation and actions is the key difference I believe in gossip versus discussion. I am not great at this by any means, minding my own business is something I fail terribly at daily. There is a fine line between gossip and discussion and I flirt with that line often. What I am taking away from my reading this morning is to have grace filled words and actions so that I may have a quiet life in the eyes of the Lord.

in grace and love,

amber

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Persevere

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Even though this scripture just came into my life it has actually been the scripture that’s in guiding my choices over the last several months and I just didn’t know it. Had I heard this scripture months ago I don’t think it would have meant as much to me as it does now. I realize that as a wife, mother, daughter, and friend I have responsibilities but at some point I decided that God was the first thing to be cut from a long list of things to do. Finally I feel my priorities are starting to be in order. God first, family second. When we are pursuing God I think the devil gets scared and then gets busy. Life has been throwing me some interesting curve balls lately but I have been trying my best to catch them and throw them back. I didn’t realize that all this time that I was persevering because that is what God has called me to do. Not just trying to survive for my own selfish benefit but pursuing God’s will despite the devil’s games. I feel like many of us miss out on what God has promised us because we aren’t willing to stay the course. This scripture also reminded me that you get what God’s promised you when you have done HIS WILL. Today remember to persevere towards His will for your life.

in grace and love,

amber

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Building Our House on God’s Word

We are currently building a new home which has been a stressful yet fun process. When we finally decided to build I started looking all over pinterest about new home decor and ideas. I can come across writing scripture on the frame of the house which I knew immediately we would do. I have not so patiently waiting for the framing to be done so we could do this as a family. A few weeks ago we were able to drive over to house and write some of our favorite scriptures on the house. It is so special to me to know that underneath the walls and paint is God’s word surrounding our house. Another thing I love is that one day when we move from the house those words will still be there. We made sure to discuss with the kids that all blessings come from God including our new house. The kids each picked a favorite part of the bible and then I chose a verse from it. Presley chose Noah so the verse I picked was Genesis 9:13: “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Carter picked David and Goliath, the verse I chose was 1 Samuel 17:47: “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lordsaves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” Here are a few pictures of some of the verses we chose:

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