Here are my thoughts on 5 things student pastors can’t fully teach from a stage, but MUST teach with their lives.
- A Genuine Love for the Word: If you don’t genuinely love the scripture, your teenagers will see straight through your lame attempts. If you gush scripture at every opportunity, they will see that too. Teach how to memorize and cherish God’s word to your students, not by telling them to do such, but by memorizing and cherishing it yourself! A group will never exceed the level of their leader. Learn to cherish the bible of yourself and watch your group follow suite.
- A Real Love for People: When you interact with students outside your cozy youth room, what example do you set for the teens watching your every move? Set the standard by loving the unlovable. Teach by example by genuinely being concerned for others and pushing your group to do the same. How impactful would it be if while pumping gas in route on a youth trip, you took a teen aside gave them some money and told them to go inside the store and pay for the gas of that frazzled single mom on the next pump over? I feel confident saying, your leadership in that moment would permanently change that teenager! Take the lead! Really love people!
- Be Humble and Teachable: Admit it! We aren’t perfect. When you mess up, the opportunity has arisen to show how a real follower of Christ owns up to their mistakes and makes biblical steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation. By modeling humility and a teachable heart you will show a generation that is saturated with pride how a real Christians should act. These moments are not fun, but gain you great respect by responding in a mature and biblical manner. By living a life of humility you will earn the right to speak to teenagers in their moments of need.
- Have an Imitable Faith: The way you handle your faith should be possible for teenagers to put into practice in their own lives. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” As teens watch the way you live, do they see the fundamentals of faith in a way that makes it clear what they should be doing? Do they see you praying? Do they see you correctly handling the scripture? Do they see a love for talking about Jesus? Make your faith a model for them to follow! Don’t cheat them into thinking it’s about degrees on the wall or charisma on the stage? Not all people will have those. But all can love Jesus in a practical, everyday way. Are you and I showing that way?
- True Loyalty in a Fickle Generation: Teenagers need to see stability modeled. In a culture with 50+% divorce rate sometime that is not seen at home. Be the model of how to love your spouse. Be the model on supporting your senior pastor. Remember (and use) a teenager’s name the next time you see them after their first visit. Show your group that some things are truly important in life and it goes way beyond your favorite sports team. Longevity in youth ministry is a rare thing. I’ve heard it said that the best ministry comes after 6 years. When every student in your ministry is a product of your teaching alone you will see the fruit of your labor! Hang in there. Be loyal to what God has called you to.
Praying you will teach these things and more to the teenagers in your area of influence.
Your fellow worker in the field, Adam