The teenage life is a huge time of transitions, from safety and security in their family to finding out who they are in school and life outside of the family. From a teen’s eyes, it might seem like an endless series of crisis events. And to make it worse, no two crisis could be the same. They can face anything from bullies to divorcing parents, failing grades to friends who cut.
As youth workers to see hundreds, maybe thousands of students a week, how do we interact, work with, and serve those students who are going through a crisis? There are three things that every situation will need you to do, regardless of the situation: you need to be ready for crisis to happen, we need to give them time and space initially instead of fixing immediately, and we need to see it to the end.
We will further address each of these this week, but here is a brief description of each:
Be Prepared for Crisis [read more]
Preparation of a crisis that could (and will) happen involves three things: leaving time in your schedule to give it your full attention, knowing the resources available to you to best handle the situation, and creating an environment that is safe to be open and talk with adults and others about their problems. These allow us to effectively and fully engage with the student, preventing deeper wounds being created from our own shortcomings.
Giving Them Time And Space, Instead of Fixing Anything [read more]
Our first reaction to working with students is the desire to fix what they are facing because of any three things: we need to quickly fix their crisis so we can face our own, we are uncomfortable with the pain, or we assume that we know what the whole story is that has led to this crisis. But if we give them the time and space, this will allow them to work through their emotions (no matter how hard that is) as well as establish a deeper relationship between you and the student.
Creating A Comfortable Environment For Students [read more]
So many crisis are never told to an adult because of the fear that they will be judged, ignored, or rejected because of the problem. Yet, we can create a safe environment for them to share their hearts with us instead of hiding it away by developing deep and authentic relationships that start with sharing your own hurts and wounds from your past, regularly telling students that adults in the church are hear to talk, and consistently preach and teach on the tough topics like suicide and bullying.
Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years — check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.