Kurt and Josh

Your attitude can make all the difference in the world.

Both of us are optimistic by nature—our typical response in most situations is hope, belief, and excitement. There are times when our attitudes are tested, but we’ve learned optimism wins almost every time.

There is a time and a place for pessimism, perhaps. Being a realist is a good characteristic of many people. But choosing to respond with a sense of “optimistic wisdom” could change how you deal with students, parents, and your supervisor.

Lurking Student
HOW I WANT TO RESPOND: Argh. I swear this kid stalks me every week at youth group. Doesn’t he know I need to visit the new students who came tonight? If I don’t get over there and say hi to them they may never come back—and that one kid has a varsity football jacket on! He could be a huge influencer. How fast can I ditch this student and dismiss them, maybe give them an empty promise about connecting at Taco Bell this week sometime…

99 Thoughts on Leading Well: Insights for Leaders in Youth Ministry

HOW TO RESPOND: This student is special in God’s eyes, even if they grate on me every once in a while. I know God wants me to love them and care for them, so I’m not going to merely act like I care—I am going to love them. Give him great eye contact. Really respond to her with thoughtful answers and wisdom.

Angry Parent
HOW I WANT TO RESPOND: It seems like every time I see them they have something to complain about. Their daughter didn’t get into the right small group. The discipleship course was too shallow. They don’t like the new mural on the youth room wall. (Okay, I agree with that one; Jesus looks more like Prince than the Son of God.) This church sucks; my job sucks. Make this go away!

HOW TO RESPOND: This is tough for me to hear, but I need to soak this in. I need to improve and do a better job. Sure, there might be things I need to discard that were said in haste or were inaccurate, but I need to lower my defenses and let God speak to me through this painful interaction.

Senior Pastor
HOW I WANT TO RESPOND: I’m pretty sure the senior pastor has a flask under his corduroy sportscoat! This guy is nuts! This is the dumbest decision I’ve ever heard—if he wasn’t so old and out of touch I would try to reason with him, but I’m pretty sure he’s singlehandedly trying to run this church into the ground. I can’t wait to let my friends know how I feel; won’t be long before I run this place—I’ll show them how it’s done.

99 Thoughts on Leading Well: Insights for Leaders in Youth Ministry

HOW TO RESPOND: That decision was a tough one to hear, but I know that God put my pastor as the leader of this church, and I will follow him/her as I follow God. After I process this for a while, I think I’ll maybe bring up a few considerations with them behind closed doors.

Blessings as you respond with grace today!

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