Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTUDENT MINISTRY: Loving Our Students, Even When They Continue to Mess Up

STUDENT MINISTRY: Loving Our Students, Even When They Continue to Mess Up

Back in September, my furry freeloader, Claude, did something stupid. He ate a pair of underwear. (I know that’s a wild way to start a story.) While we might call the act ignorant because he didn’t know better, by human standards, it was stupid. After a trip to the vet, surgery and $2,000, we had our dog back. He had less intestines than when he went in, but he was back causing chaos in our home. I’ve come to the conclusion that is his job. I might even go as far as to say that he is my thorn in the flesh, but that might be taking it to an extreme. If you meet him, you will love him. He is cute, cuddly and just wants to make friends; but to me, there are times I want to take him back to the breeder and see if we can get a refund on one slightly used doggo.

Recently, Claude made me think about taking him back again. After the pain and headache of doggy surgery, he apparently decided once wasn’t enough and he needed a return trip to our vet. This time, it wasn’t underwear. His taste has apparently been refined and he moved on to a sock. As I sat in the examining room looking at the x-ray, I started wondering if I could afford another surgery. I had told my wife that if he did this again, he was going to find his way to doggy heaven. However, as we waited to find out what to do, that goofball just looked up at me with his big puppy dog eyes and I knew I would have to do whatever it takes. Ugh. I’m a softy. Fortunately, this was a smaller piece of clothing and finally managed to find its way through. After a couple of nights at the vet and only $400 this time, we had our crazy Havapoo back at the house.

Gross story? Yes, but it highlights something. God has called us to love on the students in our lives when they make stupid mistakes and even go back to them again. He loves us like that. The work of sanctification happens in a moment and takes a lifetime. When we accept the free gift of salvation, we are sanctified positionally before the Father. Over a lifetime, we grow more Christ-like through progressive sanctification and that is rarely a straight line. But through it all, God loves us. We are to love our students, even when they come back to us time and time again saying, “I did it again.”

So how do we keep a heart bent toward our students even when they keep doing the “stupid” things in life? Our patience may run thin, but Jesus’ does not. We want to emulate Him in this process. Here are some suggested ways to do that:

• Pray for your students on a regular basis. The work of student ministry can often be very task driven, and we forget to pause and pray for our students. Whether they are in a public or private school, they face the challenge of peer pressure and other difficulties. Pray that God will work in their lives and help them as they seek to honor God in all they do.

• Stay connected with them. There are all sorts of ways to do that. Technology has made it easier than ever to contact a student and their parents. Send out cards, texts and emails, to name just a few. This process will help your students know they are loved and will keep your students on your minds.

• Talk with the parents. Your students may be struggling in ways you never see. Partner with your parents to know what is going on in your students’ lives. We must embrace a mindset of “family” ministry if we want to better love our students and help them achieve the life God has for them.

• Study how God loves you. This last suggestion is probably the most important. If we understand how God loves us, it becomes much easier to love the “stupid” people in our lives — both students and adults. Spend time studying, meditating and embracing what God has done for you and how He keeps forgiving. It will make it much easier to love the teenagers in your life.

Will Claude continue to aggravate me? 100%! However, he has chosen me as his person and now I love that little fur ball. (Just don’t tell my wife.) Will students irritate you as they continue to take God’s love and great sacrifice for granted? I’m pretty sure they will, but that is part of the job. We love them and continually point them back to Jesus. Why? Because student ministry matters.