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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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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Making Space

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I started an intensive bible study last Friday that has already been eye opening. One of the things I read was about in order to to be disciple of Christ you need to be disciplined. It defined discipline in one’s spiritual walk as making space for God to work (at least that’s the gist). When I read that a huge lightbulb went off. I’m often complaining and wondering where is God and why isn’t He doing anything. The problem isn’t God, the problem is me. I do not provide God space to work and do what He does. I have become addicted to the busyness of this world. When my calendar is full and I’m constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off I’m pushing God out of the way. My goal for the rest of this year and for 2017 is to make space for God. Making space for Him FIRST will allow all the other things in my life to fall into place.

In order to try and be as successful as I can be I’m going to iron out a few action steps. First off, I’m going to start by writing in time with God in my planner. I’m a HUGE planner person. I write everything else in there so why wouldn’t I carve out time for the one who created time. After that I need to have a plan with how I’m going to spend that time. I don’t need to schedule it in detail but at least have a general idea of how that time is going to be spent in His presence. Whether that be journaling, praying, scripture dissection, etc. Finally, I need to make sure that I have everything I need to make the time successful: bible, notebook, pens and whatever else I find useful in my quiet time.

I hope this post gave you some food for thought and some practical tips to help you make space for God so he can work in BIG ways in your life.

in grace and love,

amber

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