We have been wired for community. We have been created by God to seek out a community, to seek out belonging where we are known and where we have a purpose. While teenagers will seek a place of belonging among peers, as youth workers we must remember that teenagers desperately need godly adults in their lives as well.
In fact, over the course of adolescence, young people need multiple significant adults who know, love, and guide them through the peaks and valleys of adolescence. However, this raises the question, “What characteristics should the adults who work with youth have?” Conventional youth ministry wisdom has said that adults who work with teenagers need to be …
- Good looking
This list eliminates most adults (it certainly eliminates me). Dr. Tim Elmore recently posted on his blog about how the younger generations need adults in their lives who act like adults and who don’t try to act like teens. I agree wholeheartedly.
What do young people need from the significant adults in their lives? We could come up with a long list, but I want to summarize what I think are the primary values and characteristics of adults who effectively relate to young people with what I call the 3C’s.
The 3Cs of youth ministry
Compassion: An effective youth worker is moved by compassion to journey with a young person and share life with him/her. This involves going to where they are, taking an interest in what interests them, and patiently taking on their hurts, joys, victories, and defeats. This also means honestly seeking to understand the new challenges that young people face today. This is what Jesus did when he took on flesh and dwelt among us!
Bottom Line: Adults must be moved by compassion and share life with young people.
Consistency: An effective youth worker is a consistent presence in the life of a young person. It is great when an adult is moved by compassion to know, love, and guide a teenager, but if he can’t be a consistent presence over an extended time period he will not be nearly as impactful as the compassionate adult who is a consistent presence in the life of a young person. Trust is key to discipleship, and trust is developed by being consistent.
Bottom Line: Adults must be consistent in their support, encouragement, and presence in the lives of young people.
Christlikeness: An effective youth worker is a christlike presence in the life of a young person. Ultimately our goal in discipleship is to guide young people into a deeper trust in Jesus, and this will only happen when we too are trusting and walking with Jesus. Andy Blanks, co-founder of youthministry360, says it this way in a recent post, “We teach, and speak, and minister out of the overflow of what God is doing in our lives. If we aren’t actively engaging with God on our own, our ability to minister to students will suffer.”
Bottom Line: Adults must be a Christlike presence and point young people to a deeper trust in Jesus.
[tweetthis]Adults must be a Christlike presence and point young people to a deeper trust in Jesus.[/tweetthis]
What characteristics should the adults who work with youth have? The 3 “C’s” answer this question succinctly and powerfully: they must be compassionate, consistent, and christlikeness
This is a simple list to remember. This is a simple list for evaluating yourself and your ministry. However, this is an impossible list to do without the love and grace of God who saves, transforms, and sends us in His power.