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WANTED: Adults With Attitude!

 —  May 8, 2012 — 10 Comments

While certain youth ministry “skills” are good…when it comes to ministering to junior highers, a certain mindset, or attitude(s) is arguably much more important. Skills can be learned, but attitude is often something that can’t be taught. Give me an unskilled, but properly attituded (is that a word?) team of adult volunteers any day!

Here are five attitudes that I think are toward the top of my list for junior high youth workers:

- An attitude of OPTIMISM!
Adults who can see the best in a situation, and believes that good things are always on the horizon is a big deal in junior high ministry. Ministering to young teens is undervalued, misunderstood and draining. Pessimists need not apply!

- An attitude of ENCOURAGEMENT!
Simply put: Young teens are dying for encouragement. They need a few extra cheerleaders in their lives.

- An attitude of EMPATHY! While things like a new pimple, getting dumped by our girlfriend of two days and wearing the exact same top as your best friend to the school dance may seem small….almost laughable…to us; they are a BIG deal to our junior highers. Junior highers need adults in their lives who truly “feel their pain” and want to walk alongside them as they navigate the many ups and downs, highs and lows, twists and turns of their journey through early adolescence.

An Attitude of GRACE! Very few people will try your patience like a junior higher. Junior highers will grate on even the steadiest of nerves. They will make the same foolish mistakes again and again and again. They need to be surrounded by grace-giving adults.

An Attitude of PERSEVERANCE!
Don’t give up. Your current junior highers need you…and so do the ones who will follow in their footsteps.

What attitudes would you include if you were making your own list?

Kurt Johnston

Kurt Johnston


Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

10 responses to WANTED: Adults With Attitude!

  1. Larry Darnell May 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

    An Attitude of Randomness! While I am not certain randomness is an attitude, I do know that breaking out of the predictable is appreciated by junior highers. There are times I am intentionally random with junior highers and to my surprise it not only works but they like it.

  2. Kurt Johnston

    An “attitude of randomness”….I like that, Larry! Would “flexibility” be another way to say that?

    • Larry Darnell May 10, 2012 at 8:32 am

      Flexibility is probably more workable than randomness…I was just reinforcing an “out-of-the-box” experience.

  3. I’d add an Attitude of Patience. There’s no way to work with junior highers without having some level of patience to handle certain behaviors or some of the questions that they like to ask.

  4. Brooklyn Lindsey

    An attitude of flexibility.

    I’d like to add to the “attitude language” convo and submit “postures” that are great for JH youth workers.
    A posture of learning. A posture of sharing. A posture of perseverance. A posture of humility.
    A posture to have fun (even when you’ve had a long day and don’t fee like it….jump in!)

    I like the posture metaphor as well because it suggests that we’re not far from where we need to be, a little straightening a little adjusting, a conscious effort and we are there!

  5. An attitude (or posture :-)) of trust. It’s easy to become discouraged when it seems like your jr. high students aren’t growing or getting anything of spiritual substance, so we must remember to trust that the Holy Spirit is present and working in their lives at all times. Jr. highers can be crazy, unfocused, and all over the place, but when they come together for church or small group, God is the powerful constant in the midst of the chaos.

  6. I would add an attitude of flexibility. I find that volunteer leaders who are flexible find middle school ministry to be more fun. I mean, how much of what we plan actually goes down like we plan it too? Not much.

  7. that was dumb…i didn’t read any of the comments before I commented. Maybe, I need an attitude of detailness. I agree with brooklyn and kurt.

  8. an attitude of teach-ability. Can this person learn well? None of us are just really good at doing ministry. We learned things along the way. I expect the same attitude of my volunteers. If they have this attitude, it’s easier to have those tough conversations. This could probably fall into the humility camp, just a different take.

  9. I would add an attitude of commitment. It seems to me that kids have enough people in their lives that bail on them and youth ministry should not be one of those places that this happens. The hurt of trusting someone and then having them only show up occasionally in you life or not at all…This is hard enough for us as adults, but for kids can be a damaging experience. So, getting into the role of teacher, leader, confidant, friend, guide, and sometimes, partner in mischief, needs to be taken on with an attitude of commitment. For someone wanting to get into the thick of things with Jr. High kids…plan to stay and be committed for a while.

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