How To: Student Ministry
How To: Student Ministry
“Talk Less, Live More..”
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation” – Plato
First things first, can we admit student ministry can feel like trying to run a triathlon..in the sahara…while fasting.
Students might be the most exhausting demographic to work with but also the most rewarding. I worked in student ministry for several years and now I’ve been removed from it for several more. A couple of things I learned are this:
Reflection 1: Students are exhausting
Reflection 2: Leaders are Messy
As imperfect as both parties are, there is hope.
Here’s the two sided coin of student ministry.
1) Good side: Students will mimic their leaders 2) Bad Side: Students will mimic their leaders.
Ever hear the phrase: “Leadership is being.” As in, it flows out of who you are?
Well spend enough time leading and the people who look up to you will begin to reflect your being – who you are. That means they’ll reflect your insecurities, your behavior, the things you applaud, the things you shun and much more.
The best way I learned to navigate through this terrain of exhaustion and messiness are as follows:
Talk Less, Live More
If I could go back and change how I led as a campus minister, I would’ve shut my mouth more often than not. I would’ve invested more time into hearing my students share their thoughts. I would’ve eased back and let the natural flow of friendship and life take course and treated those groups like relationships instead of classrooms. Making a particular effort to talk long whenever I was giving encouragement or support and trying to keep my words few otherwise. As few as I would keep them in a casual friendship.
I would’ve led more by how I lived rather than trying to give lectures on principles from the bible. My boss always says “If you teach a seminar on measles but you have the chicken pox, the people are going to catch the chicken pox.” Because people are malleable and when you lead, who you are as a person becomes contagious. I would rather mold leaders who learn to influence by how they live rather than leaders who try to speak more than they act – I think the body has enough people giving their opinions on life issues, it’s time for more of us to begin spending our efforts on influencing by how we live.
Often as leaders when we speak on matters of life in Christ we tend to speak aspirationally and very seldom acknowledge the very slow process of life that it takes us to reach those aspirations. Do the students you lead a favor and lighten the burden of expectation you unknowingly place on them, you can do this by living aspirationally which means actions and a lifestyle that reflects a desire and progress towards sanctification as well as constant acknowledgement of your shortcomings, imperfections, missteps and laborious effort towards those aspirations.
At the end of the day, we can’t change that our flaws are going to permeate into how we lead. But we can make a particular effort to lead out of who by striving for high goals in action but acknowleding to ourself and those we lead that we always come up short but never cease striving.
Trust me when I say one of the best encouragements you could give to a student is to let them know that the leader they look up to is a imperfect person just like them.
“Elijah was a man, just like us..but he prayed fervently” – James 5:17
Talk less and live more..lead more.