On this week’s Student Ministry Matters podcast, Chris Vines and I interviewed my favorite podcast guest ever, my wife Temple. Temple is a leading expert in Northwest Arkansas in the area of counseling families and children. In addition to her weekly work with clients, she is an adjunct professor at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in the field of play therapy.
During our interview, she shared a great piece of information from Dr. Garry Landreth, who is internationally known for his writing and work in promoting the development of child-centered play therapy and teaches four attitudes to have as you work with clients. He calls them the “Be With” Attitudes. These attitudes are great for all of us who work with students or simply want better relationships in our lives:
• “I am here.” Sometimes, it is a matter of simply being present. When a student’s life is falling apart, they need people who are there for them. You don’t have to have tons of advice. Simply being present can make all the difference.
• “I hear you.” As I have shared before, listening is key to good ministry. We should take time to really hear what our students are going through. Don’t try to come up with an answer for them while they are talking. Take time to hear the story they are sharing. Use active listening techniques. Ask questions. Make sure the person sharing knows you are here for what they are giving you.
• “I understand.” While we may not have gone through their circumstances, empathy is a powerful thing. Think through what they are sharing and be honest in your responses. Be self-aware enough to know that their experience is different from yours, but you can find some common ground.
• “I care.” I don’t know how many times I have heard “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” but it as been a lot over the years. And there is a reason that it is shared so much — it is true! Your students need to know that you truly care about them. It isn’t just a part of your job. It is who you are. If you can’t muster up care and concern for your students, you may need to check your own heart.
Whether you are a full-time student ministry worker or a volunteer who is filling in because someone is sick, God wants us to be “Be With” the people under our care. Take time to listen and invest in your students. They need adults in their lives who truly care.
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