By Gregg Farah
As a youth worker, I’m called by God to love Him and serve others. One of the best ways to do that is to turn the interruptions, challenges, and frustrations of ministry and life into teachable moments.
Teachable moments abound. They’re never scarce. However, I’m not always aware of them or willing to take advantage of the opportunity they provide. It’s much easier to chastise a rebellious student or embarrass an annoying teen than to respond with grace, truth, and a word from God. But I’m learning—mainly because God frequently uses teachable moments in my life.
I hate staff meetings. I’m sure there are deep-rooted psychological issues in my life that explain my disdain for these meetings, but the main reason is they bore me. Several years ago, I knew I needed an attitude adjustment when it came to attending meetings, but I justified my actions—until God provided a teachable moment.
After one of our regular meetings, I was asked to meet with our executive pastor. Once in his office, he jumped right to the point and stated I was disrespectful. I wanted to complain and blame my actions on the way our meetings were run, but I knew the only change I could make was in my attitude. Romans 13:7 says we are to: “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (NIV). I knew that I had not been giving my colleagues respect or honor. Instead of embarrassing me in front of our staff, my pastor showed me respect by discussing the matter behind closed doors. He turned a confrontational situation into a teachable moment, and showed me how I should not only treat my co-workers, but also the students entrusted to my care.
You don’t have to look for or create teachable moments because they will find you. Jesus modeled this type of instruction by using the words, actions, and events of the day as His curriculum. As a leader in your ministry, you have freedom to speak with authority into students’ lives. However, be sure to do so with patience, love, thoughtfulness, tact, and consistency.
These characteristics will communicate care to students as well as prevent you from speaking impulsively. Take some deep breaths before speaking truth. Allow yourself time to think through what needs to be said and—most importantly—what should not be said. Seize the moment and in the process, let them learn about God’s love and care for them.