One of the most profound books that I read over the past five years is The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. This book is not just a book for understanding your spouse (which I didn’t even have at the time of reading) but I believe understanding the love languages will transform how you minister to students, and your whole family. This is a must read for everyone and it has changed how I view my students as a teacher and as a youth director.
The whole premise of the book is the idea that each person has a primary and secondary love language. It is through that type of love that our “love tank” get filled. Each person is different and gives and receives love differently.
There are five love languages that the book talks about. Acts of service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch (platonic touching, not necessarily sexual) , Gift Giving, and Quality Time. Often the way that you give love the best is also the way that you recieve love the best, however that is not always the case. There are several online tests that you can take to help you figure out your love language, but I do recommend you read the book because it details each of the love languages, how to best understand them, and how to best incorporate those into your day to day life.
You may be wondering how this goes beyond your spouse – well I believe that the more we understand how our students give and receive love, the better we are able to minister to them in a way that they feel as though they truly are loved. So many of our students come from broken homes or unhealthy relationships when all they have ever learned is put up your walls and protect yourself. We can help break down those walls by learning first how they love, and filling their love tanks. We can then help them learn how to best love others regardless of their love languages.
For me it changed how I taught my students, it changed how I ministered to my students, and it helped me to better individualize my ministry to help connect in a deeper way with my students. To me it was revolutionary!
Jana Snyder is a youth pastor and a good friend who blogs at www.tarajaministries.com.