Partnering with parents is a critical piece of youth ministry, but it can often be incredibly challenging. Either we just don’t know how, or we feel like “who are we to speak with any real authority to parents?” In this series, we’ve asked youth leaders and parents alike to respond with helpful tools and experiences in this fruitful endeavor.
In the first piece of this two-part article, I spoke about what I pray for in a youth minister, when it comes to my kids. In the following article, I will address what I pray for in a youth minister when it comes to me, the parent.
As a parent, I pray for a youth pastor who:
- Listens well. Someone who responds from a heart aligned with the Word, rather than reacts out of emotion, opinion, disappointment, or fear. A wise youth pastor invokes the help of the Spirit as he or she listens, hearing what is being said and also what is not being said. Yes, you remember correctly, this is exactly what my kid needs from you too.
- Trusts in the Lord and reminds me to do the same. We parents are often fearful for our kids, and we need our faith encouraged as well. Remind us how God loves our kids far more than we do. Remind us that God has His own relationship with our child, and that a parent doesn’t have to do everything exactly right; He has my family covered. It’s not all up to me. Don’t tell me my kid will outgrow something because most kids do. What helps the most is the reminder that Jesus is mighty to save, and He gave His life for my child.
- Does not judge my parenting. It’s so easy, especially if you don’t have teenagers of your own, to think you would know how to handle discovering a bong in the backseat or pornography on the laptop. Parenting teens is easy in theory and brutal in real life. I constantly question myself because I want so desperately to love my kids well, and I mess up so often. I need a whole lot of grace – maybe even more than my kid does.
- Knows his or her role. You are not the parent, and you are not the buddy.
- Is trustworthy, guided by the Holy Spirit. If my child is a danger to himself or others, please tell me first. And, this may be counterintuitive, but… if my child comes to you in confidence, and is not a danger to himself or others, please pray long and hard before you share his confidences with me. It is so important that you be an adult he can trust. And (God please help me) I myself need to learn that I don’t have to know everything, because He does.
Youth pastors and leaders, you have a high and difficult calling. You have a great deal of responsibility, influence and potential in the life of a young person, and as such, you need a great deal of support, encouragement and prayer. Kind of like a parent needs. Thank you for coming alongside us to love our teens and usher them into the Kingdom of God.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all… (Philippians 1:3)
Leave comments in the section below about what you, as a youth leader, pray for in the parents of your students!
Join us for Rooted 2016, an intimate youth ministry conference, where we will explore the good news that God’s grace is sufficient for our relationships: with ourselves, with others, with the world, and with God. Jesus is our reconciliation yesterday, today, and forever.