I had a parent call concerned about her teen. The student had done something the parents didn’t see coming and it really rocked their relationship. So the parent called and told me what happened and that they wanted me to talk with their teen. Before we got off the phone the parent said, “oh and by the way, they don’t want to come talk to you. I’m making them come anyways!” Shocker right! The reality is that this is the nature of all the calls I get. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to talk with someone either if I’ve done something wrong. Especially if my parents are going to make me. Well, I’ve seen God work miracles in the lives of students through our conversations. So after I work through things with the students I started asking them what were their thoughts about meeting with me. These are some of things they said:
- I was just going to try and fix them.
- They would share as little as possible and give short answers.
- I can’t help them because I don’t know the whole story.
- They feel judged.
- I’m going to help their parents control them.
- The most common response amongst the students I’ve asked was that they think I have automatically taken their parents side on the issue so why bother?
I’ve used this information to help me navigate conversations with students. Here are a few of the many steps I take in response to the way the students are thinking:
- First, I remember only God can change the heart. So I take time to pray for the time I’ll be meeting with the student.
- I do not jump right into talking about the problem.
- I intentionally ask questions about their family relationships, school, sports or a hobby of theirs. -The problem tells you nothing about who the student is, so I ask questions in these areas to give me a more holistic view of the student.
- I’m not here to add onto the guilt or shame the student already feels. I’m here to connect the student to Christ. So I’m careful to use language that encourages and pushes them in the right direction. Speaking the truth in love just like Christ did. You don’t want to add to the people in their life speaking negative to them.
- Ask questions about their walk with Christ or the lack of their relationship with Christ. I’ve found that a lot of students problems stems from problems in their relationship with Christ or the lack there of. Of course there are practical steps the student needs to take but Christ is the ultimate solution we must push.
- I’m transparent with my own life when the holy spirit leads me to be in relating with the student. – Students respond when they know you can truly understand them. Word of Caution: “Be lead by the Holy Spirit”.
- I’m very conscious to the fact that I need to see the student the way God sees them and not allow anything that they have done to alter my view.
There is definitely a lot more that I could say as I think about this topic. Interacting with students can be easy when they think your awesome, but can be very challenging when you have to be the leader who has to speak the truth. I’ve seen God work miracles in the lives of students. I’ve seen God change their hearts and instead of being a hassle to their parents they become a blessing to their parents.
hope it helps