Six Principles of Relating to Adolescents

Today, as I write this, I learned that 704 individuals and groups have registered for Summer Connect. 173 of those applicants, 1 out of 4, indicated interested in reaching out to high school students while they are home for the summer.

Knowing how much those under 18 look up to college students and how responsive they are to the Gospel, that’s awesome!

But there are some things we need to know in reaching out to teenagers. Sensitive and legal considerations come into play in working with minors.

With that, let me share six principles of relating to adolescents that our high school ministry would want us to know.

SIX PRINCIPLES OF RELATING TO ADOLESCENTS

  1. YOU MUST ASSUME A LEADERSHIP ROLE.

Your relationship is not a peer-to-peer relationship. Due to the differences in age, experience and maturity, you must provide the leadership. It can be like an older brother or older sister or as an adult friend. Sometimes it’s much like a teacher-student or coach-student friendship.

As the leader it’s very important for you to be a positive model of maturity. You want to be real, but not if it means stooping to a lower level of mature behavior. High school students are very idealistic. They can become disillusioned easily if you appear inconsistent or immature.

On a college campus, staff and students can disciple each other more as peers. But in a high school ministry, the staff must provide more leadership in the relationship.

  1. FIND WAYS THEY CAN GIVE TO YOU. 

With all the input you are having in their life, it’s easy for the relationship to become somewhat unbalanced. You are helping them in many ways, but they also feel a need to contribute in some way to your life. Figure out what they can do to help you. Think creatively. They can help fix your car, teach you a new sport, help you with a hobby, or give you advice. In every case, your leadership is enhanced when there is balance. It helps to have give and take in the relationship.

  1. DON’T BECOME TOO DEPENDENT ON EACH OTHER. 

It sounds silly, but it happens. Obviously, your best friends need to be those your own age. You can’t expect high school students to meet all your friendship needs. And you can’t rely on your relationship with them – or ministry to them – to build your self worth.

Students can easily become dependent on us. Don’t ever control or smother their growth. They must become independently dependent on Christ. Be sure they are hearing from a variety of godly men and women.

Also, be careful about crushes that can sometimes develop. Watch how you relate with students of the opposite sex. It’s easy for them to grow fond of you and become emotionally attached. Our ministry’s standard operating procedure is for men to disciple guys and women to disciple girls. Serious counseling should also be turned over to a staff member of the same sex.

  1. BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR TRANSPARENCY. 

Imagine how you would have felt if one of the adults you admired had shared too much of himself with you. When we are overly vulnerable with young people, they don’t know how to handle it. Their idealism and lack of experience make it hard for them to understand the more intimate aspects of adult life. Be honest, be real, but be careful.

  1. BE AWARE OF HOW THINGS APPEAR TO OTHERS. 

Keeping kids out too late, telling parents you are going one place and then going someplace else, exaggerated physical affection, or even being alone with a student of the opposite sex can communicate things to other people that would make them suspicious of the relationship. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to avoid all appearance of evil. Ask yourself: “Could this cause parents, an administrator, or any other students to distrust me in any way?”

  1. GET TO KNOW THEIR FAMILY. 

Did you have any significant relationships with adults whom your parents had never met? Obviously, knowing the family will enhance your ministry to the student, as well as give you an opportunity to minister to other family members. It’s important to establish a trusting relationship with them.

Do you want to go further?

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Six Principles of Relating to Adolescents

  1. Mark Michal

    Great article Gilbert. I will be passing this on to my college students who are home working with our Cru teenagers this summer. Keep this stuff coming bro!

    Reply
    1. Gilbert Kingsley Post author

      Thanks, Mark. Just simply passing on what others in the Coaching Center had put together years ago. I was glad to be able to call attention to something of this importance to all the campus staff.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s