My of my great joys in ministry is being able to train volunteer and youth workers from different Churches and work to equip them to leader better. One of the most important things that I try and help them understand is that they have a voice in their student’s lives that is unlike any other. Students have all kinds of people that influence them and when it comes to adults in their lives, teachers, parents and youth workers are often the big three.
But it’s important that we recognize that our voice is unlike any other in the life of High School students and here is why:
Our Voice is Unique: When it comes to adults in a teen’s life, at some point they have to listen to their parents and they have to listen to their teachers as well. Students don’t have to listen to us, they choose to. They have to go to school, have to live at home, but choose to go to youth group. The fact that students choose to listen to us means that our voice has weight and influence. We can meet a student for coffee; something they might be mortified to do with their parent and not allowed to do with a teacher, it’s a great setup for us.
Our Voice Is Respected: When students choose to listen to us, it’s a statement of respect that they value what we say. Being a youth worker is a bit of a hybrid of the friend / mentor role and with that comes the ability to speak into the life of a student with wisdom and life experience. When our voice is respected, our lives are as well so be mindful of what you endorse, intentionally or accidentally.
Our Voice Can Be Objective: Being slightly removed from life at home and life at school coupled with the relationship we have with students gives us a unique perspective that has little obvious bias other than to uphold Biblical values. Helping students to look outside themselves and to look at a situation in a different way is challenging but doable. This is a keen opportunity for us to help students experience Matthew 5 conflict resolution and encourage them through the process as a supportive third party.
Recognizing my unique voice was a bit of a Spider-man moment for me, you know? – With great power comes great responsibility, but a better example would be in Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded”. You have an incredibly powerful and influential voice in the life of a young person. Use it wisely to pour into them, challenge them and build them up into young men and women after God’s own heart. We need to know this, our leaders need to know this.