I think sometime this concept can easily be forgotten. A lot of times we know the answers to a student’s problems before we know the whole story or the cause of the problems. So we stop listening and we start focusing on our response. We start trying to lay out our response so that it touches the very core of the issue. Meaning we are trying to recall every sound bite that has had a high impact in our lives. We want what we say to touch the students so much that they start to cry and scream out “ I’VE HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND I AM FINALLY ON THE RIGHT PATH”. Haha….
So what’s the issue with that?, you might ask. Well, one point I made earlier is that you stopped listening. The very thing that the student needed you to do, you stopped doing. When we intentionally sit and listen to students, we say to them that they are more than just someone broken in and needing to be fixed. Listening intentionally to a student says to them:
- Someone cares about me.
- Someone thinks I’m important.
- Someone thinks I’m worth their time.
- Someone cares about my feelings.
Listening intentionally will earn you the right to speak the truth of God’s word into their life. I advise when meeting a student for the first time that you are going to give guidance to, that you don’t even give any guidance on the first meeting. Allow the first meeting to set the tone for the rest of the meetings. Here is how you listen intentionally:
- Listen with great eye contact and body language. It makes a difference.
- Ask questions about the things they really care about in the situation. Even if you think it’s silly or shouldn’t matter as much as it does.
- Affirm when you can. You never know how many people have already made them feel stupid, crazy or ashamed before they spoke to you. Affirming them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It just means you validate the fact that the issue they are going through is something that should be dealt with.
- Start and End with prayer. Let them know that you are working on behalf of the only one who can actually help them. God changes the heart.Ezekiel 36:26-27
The bible talks about how we can do nothing without Christ.John 20:15:5 If you really think about it that should take a lot of pressure off of us, knowing that we have to rely on Christ to power and orchestrate the life changing work we get to be apart of. We are just vessels being used by God to spread his love, mercy, kindness and grace to students. I’ve learned that when I don’t remember this I screw things up. Because my focus is not on doing my job as the vessel, it’s on being the power source. The vessel’s job is to house the power and give it something to do. So when we try and be the power that changes people lives we frustrate ourselves when things don’t work out the way we think it should.
There has been times when I have forgotten that God changes the heart, and I feel the burden to be perfect in that moment so that students are changing. I must rest in the fact that God wants to use me to do one thing and that is to spread the gospel (God’s message of love) to students. He did not call me to do his job (which I can’t even do in the first place). So I would encourage anyone in ministry to be at peace knowing that changing the hearts of students is not your job. God commissioned you with sharing his gospel (God’s message of love).
hope this helps!