I don’t know if life and ministry has ever been as messy as it has been over the past 11 months.  I imagine your story is similar.  If we, as grown people are struggling to process all of the change, as resilient as teenagers are, our students are facing things that no one has ever had to face before.  It’s messy. Here are four tips that were brought back to me from the 2017 GLS that can help you lead well through the mess.

  1. Be Close

We have so many students who are running through the gauntlet of life and if we are not close to the students we are ministering to we are not going to have earned the right to really influence their lives.  This is why our “Sunday to Sunday” or “Tuesday to Tuesday” ministry is so important.  If we are engaging with our students at some point during the other 6 days of the week our students are far more likely to open themselves up to us when they need it.

  1. Change Lenses

COVID has taken its toll on everything and everyone. Even the individual issues that our students face on a day-to-day basis seem to be significant ad constant.  As we are ministering to our students, we get the really cool opportunity to bring the perspective of God into their situations.  If you and I are struggling to keep perspective on Jesus through this whole ordeal, you can be sure our students are too.  If you have done #1 correctly, then you have earned to right to gently guide your students’ perspective of a situation back to an eternal one.

  1. Stay Hopeful

The world is hopeless.  Any hope that our students have outside of Christ will not last. But that’s not for us.  We have the hope of Jesus. Any situation. Any story. Any sickness.  We have hope.  If our students look at us and see us floundering in the deep, then they will flounder as well.  We must lead our students by example.  With our hope firm resting on the anchor that is Christ. For us to do this effectively, we must maintain our spiritual disciplines.   Whatever it takes for you to find your refuge in Jesus.  Be sure to stay connected to Jesus so when the storms of life hit your students, then can you as a rock, a safe person they can trust through the circumstance.

  1. Be Willing

This is the same drum that everyone has been beating since COVID hit.  But we must be willing to change.  Change is uncomfortable.  Change is scary.  But change is absolutely necessary.  I came to a realization sometime around late summer that we were essentially hitting the reset button on our ministries.  I had to grief what we lost.  But then, we got to praying.  Asking God for a fresh vision.  We couldn’t go back to ministry as usual and we changed up some significant things in our ministry.  Some haven’t been great.  Others have been amazing.  At this point, we just have to try.  Trusting that God is on His throne and that the word of God will never return void.

What do you think? Are you doing these well?  Can you do any of these better?

David Wood is a wizard.

Before I lived in Modesto, my wife, my three daughters, and I lived in Belize as missionaries. Before that, we lived in Southern California where I had an awesome opportunity to travel the U.S. performing at colleges and churches sharing the gospel through my illusions for about 3 years. I’ve experienced a whole lot in my life, and I love to share God’s story through my life as often as I can.