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In my first few years as a youth pastor I keenly remember a faithful student named Scott. He was the child of a single parent, and like many students he struggled as a result of not having a father figure at home. I was like a father to Scott, and he looked at me the same. I was a voice of encouragement that took pride in his efforts and successes. He required extra care and time and in many cases grace as they things you would expect that he know were not fair to assume.

So many students are fatherless, motherless, spiritually orphaned or from a home that claims to be rich in their spiritual lives but in actuality is bankrupt. Your encouragement to them, your willingness to pray for them, to value their opinion and to be a good role model to them can make a world of difference. Don’t take lightly the fact that you are the best example of a man or a woman in their lives and that can have lasting implications on who they become and eventually marry.

It is for these students that we need to remind them often that in the midst of a void in the area of an earthly father that there is a heavenly father and He is the father to fatherless. While pointing our students to Him, you need to know that these are the students that need more of your time; they crave it to know that they are acceptable and loved. This is an incredible opportunity to show these students who Jesus is and what He is about and I challenged to seek out these students and make time for them.

4 quick takeaway points to think about today as you youth pastor-parent:

  • Think like a parent — What are the needs of that student? If they were my son or daughter, what would I say or do. Be that spiritual voice of truth like they were your own kid.
  • Share your pride of your students — Tell them you are proud of them and why. Notice the little things they say and do. Balance correction and hard truth with lavish and genuine praise.
  • Remind them that they are loved — By God, by your leaders, by you.
  • Be a solid role model — You might be the best image of what a man or a woman is to them.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. –Psalm 68:5

JG

2 COMMENTS

  • Ben Denen says:

    So true. I know I’ve recently made a push to stop attempting to be a “surrogate spiritual parent” for students who don’t me to be (i.e. they’re parents are ready, willing, and able to take on this role). I am doing this because I can see a real need for me to be this role for certain students. Your practical advice is right on.

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