Have you ever experienced one of the following scenarios in youth ministry?
- The student you have poured your heart and soul into makes a devastatingly poor life choice.
- Taking a missions trip where you have to send a student home due discovering they have not only brought drugs with them, but are sharing with their friends. (Or having to send a student home from a trip for any other horrible choice they have made.)
- Looking at a youth and in your heart of hearts you can’t imagine them ever really having a vibrant relationship with Christ.
- The constant nagging feeling that apathy is impossible to conquer, and that your constantly taking 5 steps forward and 6 steps back in your ministry?
I have been through each of these, some more than once (or twice, or multiple times.) It can leave me disgruntled, disheartened and wondering why on earth I remain in youth ministry at all. The bottom line is it can feel more like we are falling and failing some days than doing a mighty work with and for the Lord. There can be a tendency to cling to the one kid who graduated and fits our mold of having “made it.” We think it’s alright because at least there was one. However, is that really the way the Lord wants us to look at it? He is looking to each student as one he longs to be His, fully and totally, in spite of what we see. So then what is success with students?
Personally I Start Here:
1. A Searching Heart
When the students are asking questions that cause them to wrestle with who this Jesus is to them, it is powerful. They may still not be making awesome life choices, but are they wanting more? Can we see a spark that the Holy Spirit is working?
2. A Changing Attitude
Sometimes we are so focused on the future of a student we forget to look at the small strides they are making. This is the student you have a deep conversation with, they appear to not listen, and all of a sudden you see something starting to transform in the way they see life. Look for an attitude in process as a sign the Lord is changing a heart.
3. Willing and Eager to Learn
Part of adolescence is to appear aloof. Are they asking questions? Do they pull you aside and want to know more about how to live for Christ in any way? Do they tell you about mistakes they are making with an eye to a remedy? It is a major push forward when our students desire to know more about who Christ is and how to know him past their time at church or youth program.
In the end we can never forget to celebrate every victory, no matter the size. To our inability to perceive it might seem minute, to the Lord he is treating is like the winning touch down. It is less about how much scripture they can memorize or their ours in service. Truly success is all about choosing to see every student as the Lord does: His.
How do you see your students as a success?