Last night I participated in a youth ministry midweek meeting where I got to introduce one of my young friends as the speaker for the evening. I’ve known Juliana for at least four years, and now she’s a graduating senior. She was first up for a month-long “Senior’s Talk” series of youth meetings at this church.
What she had to say blew me away.
She talked about her journey of faith (and even mentioned the role I’ve had in it. I’m so proud!) She talked about the impact that mission trips have had. She thanked various friends and youth ministry leaders for their influence.
And then, she told about a recent family blowup that now has her — along with her mom and siblings — estranged from her father. You could have heard a pin drop as she described what happened, how she reacted, and how God has been a part of the process.
When she finished, we gathered around her, placed our hands on her head and shoulders, and prayed for her.
You would think that after all the tension in her talk, the room would explode with typical teenage energy once the lights came back on and hangout time commenced. But, what Juliana had shared seemed to hit home with a bunch of the kids. The atmosphere stayed subdued and hushed. In the minutes following the meeting, I talked with several students who are trying to cope in less-than-ideal family situations.
Breakups, divorce, blended families, anger, hurt, and bewilderment were a big part of those conversations. “I wish my dad was more like you.” I’ve heard that sentence often in my years of hanging out with teenagers. I bet that even my own kids said something similar to their youth leaders.
So, you can see why we wanted to put together this Youth Leaders Only with the theme, “Parents: Being One, And Working With Others.” Our role as parents of our own children is massively important enough, but when you add the burden of trying to be a godly example to teenagers who might have serious struggles with their parents, the weight of responsibility can become unbearable. Trying to work with the parents of teenagers while we figure out our own home situation can sometimes feel like the blind leading the blind.
That’s why you’ll appreciate the “Being a Parent in Ministry” roundtable discussion between a couple of musicians (Lecrae and Steve Taylor) and several Team interlínc youth leaders. Their insights might prove helpful for you as you navigate this area of life and ministry. You’ll also appreciate that Jim Burn’s article comes from the perspective of a seasoned veteran in youth ministry and family issues.
Being a good parent is of foundational importance if our ministry with teenagers is going to be effective. Working with parents is almost as important! We hope you make the most of the resources in this volume of Youth Leaders Only. We are praying for you!
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