I have to admit, I am what you would call an affectionate person and if you know me, you have probably have received a solid hug or two or ten. I am sure that many of you have heard of the five love languages, which are Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts, and if you haven’t you should check them out but if you, its eye opening stuff. When the dust settles, I am a Words of Affirmation & Acts of Service type guy and this has implications on ministry and how we engage our students.
Last week one of our students came up to me while my colleague Emily and I were visiting her school and she ran up and gave us both big hugs and said to me “Geoff, I want you to know that I love you, thanks for caring so much about my life.” I was taken aback by what she said, I mean having someone come up and say that they love you for the first time is a big deal. I was surprised, not by what she said, but why she and many other students before her said it.
This student said it because the finally GOT IT! For years now we have placed a high value on living out the example of 1 Thessalonians 2:8 which is the verse that we base our Ministry around.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us”
This verse is a core value of our ministry and we remind students often that they are loved. Loved by our leaders, by our church and by my wife and I. We care so deeply about them and try and reflect the Agape love that God shows us to our students. So hearing a student say that they “I love you” or “I love you too” is not something strange, in fact each time it happens its for us a validation that our students are getting what we are about and that Loving God and Loving our students is more than an attitude, it’s the words that we say and they are sincere. The guys in my small group, the worship team, the rowdy eighth grade small groups they all know that we Love them!
Over the past few years one of the things I have noticed is that there are certain students who can get a little uncomfortable with this, but often times its because they come from families where expressing love is not common or doesn’t happen at all. For these students it’s even more important because for them to be able to understand and embrace the love of the Father, it needs to start with us. Sooner or later most of them warm up to it and start to understand why we do it.
We accept that there are risks of making people uncomfortable or weirded out by having leaders living this out but the pros far out weigh the cons for us and we are committed to fostering a community that reflects Gods love through action and words.
We love our students and for us part of that is telling them that. Is this a value for your group too? How do you show your students that they are loved?
-GS - Twitter