WHY YOU WILL FIND THIS STUDY USEFUL
The relationships we develop with students as we minister and provide leadership will differ in some ways from other relationships we have. It’s important to understand these differences so we can avoid problems and help ensure healthy relationships. In turn, this will help us have the maximum impact on many young lives for the cause of Christ.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO LEARN
- You will learn six principles to strengthen your leadership with young people.
- You will identify any needed adjustments in how you relate with students.
DRAWING ON PAST EXPERIENCES
We are going to look at some special principles to keep in mind in our relationships with students. Let’s start by drawing on some of your experiences. Take a little trip back in time – back to when you were a high school student. Recall for the two or three adults who had the greatest influence in your life at that time, and why they had this effect.
Who were three adults outside of your family who had the greatest influence on you in those years?__________________ __________________ __________________What was it about each one that influenced you the most?__________________ – ________________________________________________________ – ________________________________________________________ – ______________________________________What was your relationship with them really like?__________________ – ________________________________________________________ – ________________________________________________________ – ______________________________________
Suppose you were to give a talk to young adults about things to consider when relating to high school students. What would your three main points be? Draw on your experiences with these adults who influenced you. Give the reasoning for each point.
Point #1: __________________________________________________
Point #2: __________________________________________________
Point #3: __________________________________________________
How do you think relationships between adults and adolescents differ from adult-to-adult relationships?____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The following are some very important principles to keep in mind as we develop relationships with high school students.
SIX PRINCIPLES OF RELATING TO ADOLESCENTS
- YOU MUST ASSUME A LEADERSHIP ROLE.
Your relationship is not a peer-to-peer relationship. Due to the differences in age, experience and maturity, you must provide the leadership. It can be like an older brother or older sister or as an adult friend. Sometimes it’s much like a teacher-student or coach-student friendship.
As the leader it’s very important for you to be a positive model of maturity. You want to be real, but not if it means stooping to a lower level of mature behavior. High school students are very idealistic. They can become disillusioned easily if you appear inconsistent or immature.
On a college campus, staff and students can disciple each other more as peers. But in a high school ministry, the staff must provide more leadership in the relationship.
- FIND WAYS THEY CAN GIVE TO YOU.
With all the input you are having in their life, it’s easy for the relationship to become somewhat unbalanced. You are helping them in many ways, but they also feel a need to contribute in some way to your life. Figure out what they can do to help you. Think creatively. They can help fix your car, teach you a new sport, help you with a hobby, or give you advice. In every case, your leadership is enhanced when there is balance. It helps to have give and take in the relationship.
- DON’T BECOME TOO DEPENDENT ON EACH OTHER.
It sounds silly, but it happens. Obviously, your best friends need to be those your own age. You can’t expect high school students to meet all your friendship needs. And you can’t rely on your relationship with them – or ministry to them – to build your self worth.
Students can easily become dependent on us. Don’t ever control or smother their growth. They must become independently dependent on Christ. Be sure they are hearing from a variety of godly men and women.
Also, be careful about crushes that can sometimes develop. Watch how you relate with students of the opposite sex. It’s easy for them to grow fond of you and become emotionally attached. Student Venture’s standard operating procedure is for men to disciple guys and women to disciple girls. Serious counseling should also be turned over to a staff member of the same sex.
- BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR TRANSPARENCY.
Imagine how you would have felt if one of the adults you admired had shared too much of himself with you. When we are overly vulnerable with young people, they don’t know how to handle it. Their idealism and lack of experience make it hard for them to understand the more intimate aspects of adult life. Be honest, be real, but be careful.
- BE AWARE OF HOW THINGS APPEAR TO OTHERS.
Keeping kids out too late, telling parents you are going one place and then going someplace else, exaggerated physical affection, or even being alone with a student of the opposite sex can communicate things to other people that would make them suspicious of the relationship. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to avoid all appearance of evil. Ask yourself: “Could this cause parents, an administrator, or any other students to distrust me in any way?”
- GET TO KNOW THEIR FAMILY.
Did you have any significant relationships with adults whom your parents had never met? Obviously, knowing the family will enhance your ministry to the student, as well as give you an opportunity to minister to other family members. It’s important to establish a trusting relationship with them. (See the Ministry Skill: How to Work with Parents)
Let’s review the six principles of relating to students:
- You must assume a __________________________ ____________.
- Find ways they can ______________ _______ ______________.
- Don’t become too ______________________ on each other.
- Be careful with your ______________________.
- Be aware of how things ______________ _______ ______________.
- Get to know __________ __________________.