I am in the middle of my second summer of full-time ministry and I have been seeing a ton of the fruit from long-term student development. I sure have messed up a few times along the way, but I thought I’d share a few things that I found to be musts in student ministry:
Believe in them. The most important thing you can do is believe in a student and recognize their potential. Believing in a student is what helps us see past who is in front of us and look ahead at who a student could be. If we don’t believe that God has created them for something more than what they are, then we have no business in their life. We need to believe that God has gifted every student in our ministry and wants to do incredible things through their lives.
Help them believe in themselves. One of the hardest but most fruitful things you can help a student do is believe in themselves. It is so important for us to be able to point out the things in them that they don’t see in themselves. Highlight their gifts, shower them with intentional encouragement, and never say any empty flattery. Help them see their gifting, find their purpose, and execute their ministry.
Be consistent. Developing students is a slow build/high reward process. It can be so easy to get discouraged and give up. Students will mess up. They will stumble. But remember that there is no such thing as too broken. Remember what you first saw in that student. Remember what made you want to take interest in them in the first place. Don’t give up after a few months. I just had my first real breakthrough with a student I have known for 3 years this year at summer camp. I have been so discouraged and wanted to throw in the towel with him but that one moment that I had with him this summer made the whole process worth it. Stay strong. God is faithful.
What are some tips you would give to a youth worker trying to develop students?