Confrontation is not my favorite part of my job, but it is definitely part of the work of youth ministry. Hypothetically, when you have both a student and a parent calling out one of your student leaders for poor choices, it is time for you to step in and deal with it. (Yes, even student leaders can make mistakes…and YEAH, so fun.)
I love my students and I want them to make choices that lead them closer to Jesus and not makes ones that lead them to feel regret and pain. With that in mind it requires me to carefully and gracefully confront students. I can honestly say that there have been times in my years of ministry where I have totally BLOWN when it comes to confrontation and it has led to lots of pain for both the student and for myself.
I am by no means an expert in confrontation but I‘ve learned a lot of lessons when it comes to having hard conversations with people that have helped that process. Here are a few things to keep in mind when confronting a student:
- Begin with love. Confrontation always goes better when the student or leader knows that you love them. Even before I confront a student, I ask myself does he/she know that I love them?
- Balance GRACE & TRUTH. You can’t avoid the truth of what has gotten you to this moment. You shouldn’t avoid the truth of the issue or neglect the consequences of their choices. Yet, all of this is needs to be wrapped in grace. Grace that says your decision may lead to pain but it won’t lead to the end. There is hope…this decision doesn’t define you or define your future.
- Know the next step. Don’t just have a hard conversation for the sake of having one, know the next step. What does the student need to do with the information you are giving them today? Do they need to talk to their parents? Do they need to come clean to someone else? Know the next step and lay it out clearly for the student to be able to understand exactly what is expected of them.
- Let it go. If the student responds positively to your confrontation, let it go. Don’t hold it over them in the future. Everyone needs a fresh start…even us. With that in mind, give your student a fresh start.
I am guessing that most of us didn’t choose youth ministry because we love confrontation, but we do realize the value and importance of doing it the right way. May we approach our students with love, grace, truth and clear next steps as we encourage them forward in their spiritual journey.
Let me know how it goes!
– Neely / @neelym