First of all, there are no quick fixes. Had a conversation with one of my life group leaders that was having issues with one of her students. Her student has been through some very tough things in her life, and my leader wanted to know how should she began to care for and support her student. I shared with her a few things she could do and so I thought I’d share them with you.
- Prayer – Praying for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the conversation is so important. The bible says in Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. So you’re not just talking things through and everything’s all good. You are going to battle with forces in the student’s life that wants to keep them where they are. It’s a spiritual battle not a physical one. You need to be prepared and ready. You need wisdom only God can give (James 1:5), so prayer, prayer and more prayer should be your weapon of choice.
- Active listening – The currency to being heard. Active listening is more than just not talking and hearing the other person. There is a certain posture you carry when you actively listen. You are sitting and/or standing facing the person. You are looking them in the eye, and if you are sitting you are sitting on the edge of your seat giving them your undivided attention. When you are actively listening you are very slow to speak.
- Empathy – You don’t have to fix or give instructions right away. Mourn with them/cry with them/sit in silence with them. Allow your presence the opportunity to comfort them. We might not even know it but God uses our presence in peoples lives to just be a comfort to them. Which is not easy because we want to say that word or sentence that puts them back on track. The bible says in Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Sometimes students know what they need to do but just need the presence of someone as comfort.
- Give Holy Spirit inspired guidance – The reason why I used “Holy Spirit inspired” is because you should be seeking God to give you what they need to hear. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say what you say that makes the difference. Sometimes you are just there to help them find the answer themselves. Allow God to guide. Whatever guidance you give them think baby steps.
- Refer when necessary – Don’t be afraid to refer students and parents to professionals. Even though you refer them you still have a job to do. You support them with prayer and your presence.
- Set Boundaries(Very Necessary) – A lot of times we get all the other points but then we forget to set boundaries and we burn out. Students who lack attention from the proper channels will abuse the attention you give them. They don’t do it on purpose, its just the way it is. You must set boundaries for the sake of your spiritual and relational well-being. You will be spiritually drained and all of your relationships will be affected because you are literally being drained by one person who is dealing with issues that must be dealt with responsibly.
- Don’t do it on your own – This must be a group effort between you and the parents. Bring other trusted leaders into the mix to pray and maybe even spend time with the student. The parents need to be in the loop every step of the way. How much you share with the parents depends on the situation. My rule of thumb is “when in doubt, tell them”.
What would you add to this list?
hope it helps