Danger: Trusting everything a student tells you. I know most dads want to think the very best about their student. So, for example, if (insert your student’s name) says that they are reading their Bible, most dads take that for face value. When what the student really may be saying is that they are spending one minute looking at the Bible so that they can tell their dad they are reading their Bible.

Solution: Actually engage your student in conversation. Talk with them. Ask questions. Probe the statement they are making. In every arena. Not just Bible reading, but talk with about school, and other activities. Take time to go have Starbucks, cast a line, or go for a drive time and really talk to them. They need it. You need it! This is a form of spiritual protection…knowing about your student.

Danger: Spiritual health is just another aspect of our busy life. Corporate worship, Christian fellowship, and Christian accountability are just other items on our long list of things that we do. In fact, we typically do those things when we don’t have anything else to do (homework, sports practices/games, family trips, attending sporting events, etc…). Students are taught through this behavior that spiritual health is something that we are ultimately concerned with when we have nothing else to do.

Solution: Make spiritual health a priority for your family and its members. Don’t miss corporate worship. Don’t allow your students to make excuses for missing church (i.e. no one else is going, I have too much homework, I have a game, etc..) There are certainly occasions when families miss church (which should be rare). The idea is to promote the importance of Christian fellowship and accountability. When you are forced to be out of town as a family, find a church to attend on Sunday mornings. Communicate to your students that they cannot be involved in extracurricular activities that draw you as a family away from church by playing/performing on Sundays. This reinforces the fact that our spiritual health is the ultimate priority in your family. This too is spiritual protection!

Danger: Tell them what they should be doing, but don’t model it in your own life. They need to see it in you! When is the last time your students saw you tell yourself “No” to something? Yes, you tell them no to things (which by the way is, in many cases, the right thing to do), but they never see you telling yourself “no” for the sake of the gospel and glory of the Lord. In my opinion, this is the greatest exposure to spiritual danger for students. A hypocrite. If there is one thing that a student can recognize and see instantly it’s a hypocrite. Satan can use that to either push them totally away from the faith or damage their faith significantly.

Solution: Students need genuineness. They need to see you talk a big game and live a big game for Christ. They need you to be open and honest with them. They need to know areas in which you struggle and when you mess up (you will!) they need you to man up to your mistakes, ask the Lord and your family for forgiveness, and commit to doing better for the glory of God. Too many dads either don’t allow their students to see who they really are (which makes them hypocrites in the eyes of their students) or they simply aren’t really who they say they are (which is the definition of a hypocrite).

Tony Richmond is the High School Pastor at First Baptist Church Keller in Keller, Texas.

I did a survey here on the blog not too long ago asking youth workers to share about their Bible reading and personal time with God. The results from the more than 400 votes were staggering — almost 10% of youth workers hadn’t cracked their Bibles in a week and only 18% considered their Bible reading “solid”.

Here’s the deal — we get it…there are certainly seasons where you are closer to God than others. Certain times of the year or patterns that lend themselves to spending time with God, or that make it tough to do. But if we were honest …it’s fair to say that if youth workers aren’t reading their Bibles, the whole thing is going to collapse sooner rather than later. And if we’re being really honest … we would admit to you that from time to time we’ve been caught up in the pace of youth ministry and not connected significantly to Christ either. And if we’re being really, really honest…we would admit it happens more often than it should.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me,
and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing …”
John 15:5 [
Continue reading in YouVersion]

Youth pastors are great fakers. That’s pretty harsh, but honestly — most Christians are good fakers. We pretend that we’re walking with God by using the correct Christian subculture language. We count listening to Gungor on our 4-minute commute to the church office as our devotions for the day. We subscribe to the Verse of the Day on Twitter (@abibleverse) and every once in a while even look at it.

You can fake it for a while … but not forever.Too often we hide behind charisma, talents, gifts and abilities when the real us is dying in a spiritual pile. This type of shallow spirituality makes us an easy target for the Enemy and prime candidates for a sudden stumble or fall. God has gifted you, but don’t arrogantly think you can lead without him. Follow THE leader!

Recommit to a genuine, ongoing relationship with Christ as you minister in His Name. Good youth ministry starts with a leader whose heart is sold-out to Christ. Good youth ministry is done by youth workers connected to the vine. Let today be the first day when we start to change the statistic and t is rare the youth worker who isn’t connected to Christ daily.

Here’s some practical advice from youth workers in the trenches who are finding creative ways to spend time with God:

  • Before you look at any screen, spend time with God.
  • Take the first few minutes of your office hours in prayer
  • Pray with your spouse before bed each night [Is it okay for me (Kurt) to admit that this one is tough for me?]
  • Block out one afternoon a month to reconnect with God
  • Use one of YouVersion.com’s reading plans on your Evo

May God bless your ministry this week as you serve and stay connected to Him!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.